After recent seat time with the midsize Hyundai Sonata and the subcompact Hyundai Accent, it only makes sense that Hyundai sent me the middle child for its sedan lineup, the compact Hyundai Elantra. The current Elantra sedan was just introduced for the 2017 model year, and the hatchback Elantra GT was added last year.
With competition coming from the likes of the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Chevrolet Cruze, we drove a 2018 Hyundai Elantra to see how Hyundai’s compact sedan stacks up. And as an added bonus, we were also given the opportunity to tour Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) in Montgomery, Alabama where the Elantra is built alongside the Sonata and the new Santa Fe. Read more about the plant tour following this 2018 Hyundai Elantra road test review.
2018 Hyundai Elantra Sedan Exterior
In terms of styling, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra is a carryover from 2017, which makes sense since it’s just the car’s second year on the market. Hyundai’s current design language looks exceptionally well in this small package. The best styling element is up front, though, where the low, wide grille and angular headlights give the Elantra a clean and sporty design. The overall look allows the Elantra to standout from most of the compact sedan market without looking like some of its boy-racer-looking rivals.
The top Limited trim level adds even more to the Elantra’s styling with standard features such as the adaptive-bending HID headlights, split-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, LED taillights, chrome beltline molding, chrome grille surround and LED turn signals built into the door mirrors. The 2018 Hyundai Elantra is available in a variety of colors, but this tester’s Lakeside Blue might be the best acting as a dark and subtle contrast to the restrained amount of bright trim.
2018 Hyundai Elantra Sedan Interior
The current Elantra is almost an inch longer and an inch wider than its predecessor giving this compact sedan enough interior space that the EPA actually classifies this compact car as a midsize car! This gives the Elantra a roomier cabin than the Ford Focus and all-new VW Jetta, and its 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space is one of the biggest trunks in this segment. On top of that, Hyundai’s cabin design is clean, stylish and functional with a mix of materials and technology that had us doing a double take of the car’s actual price.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that this tester was the Elantra Limited, which comes standard with leather seats, dual automatic climate control, proximity key with push button start and heated front seats. Adding even more content, this car had the Ultimate Package delivering more content than some compact buyers will be expecting. This package, albeit pricey at $4,350, packs a lot of high-end content into one convenient bundle such as an eight-inch navigation system, eight-speaker Infinity premium audio system, 4.2-inch color TFT instrument cluster display, integrated memory system for driver’s seat and outside mirrors, power sunroof, heated rear seats and some high-tech driver assistance safety features (which are listed below in Safety).
2018 Hyundai Elantra Sedan Powertrain
The 2018 Hyundai Elantra sedan is offered with three engine options depending on which trim level you choose. The Eco uses a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 40 mpg on the highway, while the Sport upgrades to a 201-horsepower, 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder; the Elantra SE, SEL and Limited are powered by an Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. With the six-speed automatic transmission, the Elantra has EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway**; the Elantra SE does even better with its base manual transmission.
Since compact cars are still the best commuter cars, it’s no wonder how easy the 2018 Hyundai Elantra is to drive. This starts with a chassis that is lighter and more rigid than the outgoing Elantra, which improves the car’s overall ride and handling. You’re not going to get the sporty feeling of rivals like the Mazda3 or VW Jetta, but this Elantra can still be surprisingly fun to drive. With passenger comfort in mind, Hyundai gave the new Elantra added noise insulation, thicker front door glass and improvements to the suspension components resulting in a smooth and remarkably quiet ride.
2018 Hyundai Elantra Sedan Safety
With its new chassis and lengthy list of standard and available safety features, it’s no wonder that the 2018 Hyundai Elantra scores top safety marks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Elantra an overall five-star crash rating, and the Ultimate Package adds even more safety content including Hyundai’s Smart Cruise Control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, and automatic high beam assist.
2018 Hyundai Elantra Sedan Overall
Compact cars have come a long way since their days as basic transportation, and the 2018 Hyundai Elantra sedan shows that affordable cars can be stylish, fun and offer all the latest technology. The Elantra sedan is priced starting at $16,950*, while the Limited trim level starts at $22,100*. Factor in the upscale amenities of the Ultimate Package, and you’re looking at an as-tested price of $2,460.
Perhaps even better than my seat time with the 2018 Hyundai Elantra sedan was my opportunity to tour the Montgomery, Alabama plant where this car has been built since 2010. But this was no media-only event; unlike many other car production facilities in the Southeast (including Mercedes, Honda and Kia), HMMA gives tours of its plant that are open to the public and completely free. With the exception of the paint area, you get an unrestricted, up-close look at how these cars are built from rolled steel to a final product.
No matter what part of the plant you’re in, the employees are all friendly with about as many waves and smiles that you’ll get at a Disney theme park! I’ve been on numerous plant tours over the years (including visiting HMMA when the Elantra line started), and I think I had just as much fun as my wife and six-year-old daughter – who were both first-timers. Tours can be booked up to six months in advance, and perhaps the only downside is that no photography is allowed inside the plant during the tour.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Hyundai dealership and test drive the 2018 Hyundai Elantra Sedan today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.