In this week's review I find myself back behind the wheel of the Hyundai Elantra. A compact sedan that was the 2021 North American Car of the Year following its all-new redesign. This year is what they call a carry-over model, so no major changes to the lineup.
One of my favorite features of the Limited trim I'm reviewing is its color. Scarlet Red Pearl is just a gorgeous hue - both in direct sunlight and in the shadows. I can't decide which I like better, it or the N's Intense Blue. The Elantra is designed with athleticism in mind - featuring strong angles with a chiseled look. The Limited's 17-inch alloy wheels are just as bold as the rest of the exterior.
The Limited features dark chrome grille and chrome window moldings. It's equipped with LED headlights with automatic high beam assist and daytime running lights, with LED + bulb tail lights in the rear. You'll find body-colored door handles and heated two-toned side mirrors host turn signal indicators.
Under the hood, you find a 2.0-Liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 147-horsepower and 132-pound feet of torque. (You'll get just a smidge more with the hybrid model.) It's mated to a Smartstream Intelligent Variable Transmission. Unlike in the SE trim I've previously reviewed, there is no stop/start system.
The Limited features leather-trimmed, heated front seats with slight side bolsters. The 6-way power driver's seat offers lumbar support. I love the comfort of the seat cushions. The black interior features a mix of materials including glossy black trim. I'm a fan of the Elantra's multi-function leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic steering wheel both in terms of design and its mix of materials.
A large infotainment screen is slightly angled towards the driver. Something bothered me a bit this go-round in the Elantra. It was the slanted angle of the media controls underneath the multimedia display on the center stack (pictured below.)
The volume knob didn't work for me ergonomically... it just wasn't a comfortable position for my hand. It also was quite a stretch in terms of distance. This time, I really noted how far I had to reach to get to the center stack. To shorten the distance required moving too closely to the steering wheel - which wasn't comfortable either - so this might be better suited for someone shorter than my 5'5"-ish frame.
Lower down on the center stack there are easy to use climate and audio controls. A grab handle is a nice touch for the front seat passenger.
On the center console you'll find an available wireless charger, the leather-wrapped gear shift knob, buttons for various functions like Auto Brake Hold, and adjustable cupholders.
Limited's standard features include a sunroof, dual-zone climate, electronic parking brake, a 12-volt, 64-color ambient interior lighting, and dual USB ports.
I found the 60/40 split rear seat very roomy for a compact sedan especially in terms of legroom. Headroom isn't as generous. It's outfitted as you'd expect for the price point - a bit of soft touch material on the door panels but a lot of plastic surfaces including the seat backs.
Passengers get an armrest with (small) cupholders. The seats are cushiony though the adjustable headrests seemed on the firmer side to me. I'd also note the smaller windows in the rear seats due to the car's design. The door panels come up quite high.
Cargo area is ample in my book with plenty of space for groceries and such. It was nice to see a seat folding release located in the trunk.
The Elantra Limited features a dual digital screen setup which really brightens up the whole cabin. Hyundai's 10.25-inch digital driver's display never disappoints, it's bright, easy to read and filter through.
A separate10.25-inch navigation multimedia system with a high-res touchscreen delivers great map and graphics quality. Not much rearview camera real estate though, but you do get dynamic gridlines. The multimedia system is compatible with non-wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM, Bluetooth and more. It pipes sound through a nice-sounding 8-speaker Bose premium audio system with stylish speakers to go with it.
Dynamic voice recognition works well overall although the response time varies. You can ask things like "How's the weather".
The Limited also features Hyundai's Android OS-only digital key.
Ride and Drive
The Elantra has driving characteristics of a sporty vehicle that sits low to the ground. You're going to feel the potholes and bumps in the road a bit more in town, but on smooth surfaces like the highway it's smooth sailing. I was quite impressed with the smoothness of the transmission. There are Normal, Sport and Smart drive modes to choose from, and I did notice a marked difference among the three in terms of steering response. In Sport mode, from a stop, acceleration is smooth and quick on the highway on-ramp. While I missed paddle shifters, I found found acceleration surprisingly pleasant despite just 147-horsepower. Probably because of its roughly 2,800 pound curb weight. It's so-so on road noise and you'll get more engine noise in Sport mode.
The 2023 Elantra Limited comes loaded with impressive safety tech that includes available Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist w/ Pedestrian, Cyclist and Junction-Turning Detection and Parking Distance Warning – Reverse & Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist – Reverse. Standard lineup driver's assistance features include Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Warning w/ Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Warning , Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist w/ Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist ( & Lane Following Assist, Driver Attention Warning & High Beam Assist and Safe Exit Warning & Rear Occupant Alert.
The Limited is also equipped with Hyundai's semi-autonomous Highway Drive Assist system -- while it's not the latest version that was introduced in the Hyundai IONIQ 5, I still find it impressive. It follows curved lines on the highway very well, though it'll beep at you if your hands are off the wheel too long.
The only option on my test vehicle: carpeted floor mats ($210).
The Hyundai Elantra is a compact car with a lot of personality and technology to go with it. It also offers one of the most remarkably smooth transmissions I can remember coming across. Its price point at just under $28,000 is terrific, too, in today's market.
- What I liked most: Its red hue, comfortable seats and wow-worthy smooth transmission.
- What I would change: Give me paddle shifters and a horsepower boost.
- MSRP: Base price: $26,350; As equipped $27,655.
- Fuel Economy: 30 city/40 highway/ 34 combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: about 1,346 miles.
- Weight: 2,725 – 2,868 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Compare Spare Tire.
- Length-Width-Height: 184.1” long/71.9 wide/55.7" high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 12.4 gallons with the filler on the driver's side.
- Official Color: Scarlet Red Pearl.
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- 2023 Hyundai Elantra Limited in a few words: Style meets substance in a compact four-door.
- Warranty: 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty, 7-year anti-perforation warranty.
- Final Assembly Location: Ulsan, Korea.
- Manufacturer's website: Hyundai