2018 Hyundai Elantra: Increased Tech and Safety to Shake Hands With Car Buyers

By Mike Blake Carlisle Events
Thursday, December 6, 2018

Shaking hands with American car buyers, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra ranks as the No.7 top-selling sedan and No. 21 best-selling vehicle in America this year (up 6 percent) and two years into its sixth generation, Elantra has garnered more than 2.9 million sales since its launch in the U.S. That handshake refers back to Hyundai’s badge, its slanted, stylized “H” logo that Hyundai says, expresses two people shaking hands.

A favorite of those organizations who bestow awards to carmakers, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra has again been named a top compact family sedan in AutoPacific’s annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, and has once again earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ honors.

Last year, Elantra began its sixth edition with two trims (SE and Limited) and expanded during the year with Value Edition and Sport trims. In this sixth incarnation, Elantra’s demeanor has changed to an arguably more conservative design style from earlier looks, as the "fluidic sculpture" design that persisted across the Hyundai portfolio since 2011 is gone. The car is now more like a fastback, with its roofline sloped from the windshield to the rear of the car, and it has less curves overall with pentagonal head and tail lights, a hexagonal grille, and redesigned body panels and bumper emphasizing straight lines along the body.

And new for this year, Elantra’s trim lineup grows to six with the additions of the 35mpg ECO turbo and the tech-adding SEL. Also this year, the line-up adds a variety of improvements now available on most trims including; blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist, rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, four-wheel disc brakes, heated outside mirrors, auto headlamp control, 7-inch Display Audio system AM/FM/HD Radio/SiriusXM with six speakers, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, 16-inch alloy wheels with 205/55 R16 tires, new machine gray exterior color choice and several trim-specific upgrades.

The 2018 Elantra is packed with a wealth of standard amenities including remote keyless entry; iPod®/USB and MP3 auxiliary input jacks; multifunction trip computer, six airbags: advanced dual front airbags with Occupant Classification System, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags, and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags; driver's blind spot mirror; dual-power and heated bodycolor side mirrors; motor-driven power steering; Electronic Stability Control with Traction Control System and Anti-lock Braking System with Brake Assist.

Elantra’s sculpture is confident, elegant and rounded, from its chiseled front end, eye-slit headlights and prominent grillework to its sloping rear window and abrupt rear. That artistic aesthetic comes in a compact package that measures 179.9 inches long, 70.9 inches wide and 56.5 inches high, on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, with a minimum ground clearance of 5.3 inches. The vehicle is confident, with a curbweight of 2976 lbs. for a sedan with an automatic transmission.

Elantra power comes from a Nu 2.0-liter MPI Atkinson Cycle DOHC 16-valve engine that puts out 147 horsepower and 132 lbs.-ft. of torque for an EPA estimate (automatic transmission) of 29mpg in the city driving and 38mpg on the highway. My week of mixed-use testing yielded a surprisingly high (for the niche) average of 32.0mpg.

Two0 Elantra trims offer other engines: the Eco trim employs a 40mpg, 128-hp turbo engine and the Sport trim utilizes a 201-hp turbo engine.

The Elantra ride is worthy of higher-segment comfort and quietness, but handling is vague and displays some challenging understeer during autocross maneuvers. Uphill grades are conquered with good acceleration in mid ranges, and my track tests showed an 8.4-second dash from zero to 60mph and a 16.5-second quarter-mile.

The Elantra Limited cabin is refined with intuitive design and lighting. Its standard leather seating surfaces offer a premium look and feel. Elantra provides adequate front headroom of 38.8 inches and 37.3 inches in row two. Front legroom is a comfortable 42.2 inches in row one, but a tighter 35.7 inches for second-row passengers. Shoulder room is generous throughout with 56.2 inches up front and 56.3 inches in the rear.

Available in six trims, The 2018 Hyundai Elantra in Base SE trim with a manual transmission starts at $16,950 – automatic is $1000 extra; the Elantra SEL starts at $18,850 (adding rear view camera, 7-inch touchscreen and Android Auto™ & Apple CarPlay®); the Value Edition at $19,850 (with leather-wrapped steering wheel, proximity key with push-button start and hand-free smart trunk); Eco starts at $20,550 (with the 40mpg 128-hp turbo engine); Sport starts at $21,600 (with its 201-hp turbo engine and LED lights); and the Elantra Limited, as was my test ride, started at $22,100 (and that includes an automatic transmission and the 147-hp engine, leather inside, HID headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels).

The Ultimate Package added $4350 for a Navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen, Infinity® Premium Audio with eight speakers including center channel and subwoofer; Clari-Fi™ Music Restoration Technology; 4.2-inch color TFT instrument cluster display; power sunroof; heated rear seats; Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection; Smart Cruise Control; Lane Keep Assist System and more. An Interior Light Kit was $250; Cargo net, tray and trunk hook added $185; mud guards added $95 and Freight added $885 for a final invoice of $27,865 before Hyundai promotional opportunities are deducted.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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