$7,424 - $9,639

2013 Hyundai Elantra Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Hyundai Elantra was new.


Performance: 7.3

Since it’s an affordable small car, reviewers aren’t too surprised that the 2013 Hyundai Elantra’s engine gets loud when passing and climbing hills. For the 2013 model year, coupe and GT hatchback models join the model line, and test drivers say their steering is more responsive compared with the Elantra sedan's. All models have some of the highest fuel economy ratings in the class.

  • "The Elantra GT is just as nimble as the Coupe. In fact, on the twisty roads that surround Mount Palomar northeast of San Diego, we enjoyed the balanced feel of the GT more than the Coupe." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The Elantra GT is for real human beings who want nothing to do with the Mazda 3's busy ride. The Elantra GT doesn't offer the steering feel, control, precision or fun factor of its main rivals and that's OK." -- Edmunds
  • "Overall, there's more than enough oomph for daily driving duties, on highway or off." -- Motor Trend (2011 sedan)

Acceleration and Power

All Elantra models have a 148-horsepower, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine and a standard six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is optional. The Elantra has good fuel economy ratings for the class. The base Elantra sedan averages 28/38 mpg city/highway, regardless of transmission, according to the EPA, while the GT hatchback averages up to 27/37 mpg.

Reviewers say the Elantra’s engine provides adequate power in most situations, but notice that it needs more horsepower for passing on the highway and climbing hills. With either transmission, the Elantra doesn’t accelerate with a lot of pep, but that’s not surprising for an affordable small car. Most reviewers say the manual and automatic transmission shift gears smoothly, but one test driver thinks the manual feels clunky.

  • "The 1.8-liter engine has plenty of pep for daily driving, and the six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and willingly downshifts." -- Edmunds
  • "The Hyundai's manual transmission has a sticky, chunky-gated feel that's a ways off the smooth standard of Honda or Mazda sticks." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "After heading back out onto the road, we were faced with less-engaging roads, the sort of stuff that the majority of drivers will experience day in and day out. Here, the Elantra's powertrain woes weren't nearly as noticeable. Sure, it still feels sluggish while revving low in a gear, but there's ample get-up-and-go off the line and the engine soundtrack doesn't sound wheezy and strained." -- Autoblog (GT)
  • "The manual transmission has easy shifter and clutch action. The automatic is smooth, but summoning more power for passing and merging maneuvers takes a deep stab of the gas pedal." -- Consumer Guide (2012 sedan)
  • "Whether cruising along at 70 or wringing it out to redline, it never exhibited that thrashy feeling you get with lesser four-bangers. The only time we noticed a significant power deficit was while trying to pass on the freeway during a hill climb." -- Motor Trend (2011 sedan)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say the 2013 Elantra sedan stands out for its strong brakes, composure on the highway, accurate steering and smooth ride, but they recommend the coupe and hatchback models if you want a small car that’s a little sportier. In particular, the hatchback has a sport-tuned suspension and three selectable steering modes (comfort, normal and sport). Test drivers agree that the different modes improve steering feel compared with the sedan, but several also mention that its handling still doesn’t match the Ford Focus and Mazda3.

  • "If you're looking for some driving fun in this class, know that the Elantra doesn't have the outright handling abilities of the Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus and Mazda 3. Those cars simply feel a little more sophisticated. But in general, the Elantra's balance between ride and handling is one of the best in the segment." -- Edmunds
  • "Activated through a steering wheel-mounted button around the 4 o'clock position, your DSSM choices are Comfort, Normal, and Sport. Each alters on-center tension and effort weight (but not the steering ratio) when you pull the wheel off-center. It's no Focus or Mazda3 equivalent, but effort ramp-up and feel in any mode is more honest than in non-GT Elantras." -- Motor Trend (GT)
  • "This is the sort of steering feel we wish were standard across the Elantra board: good on-center feel with plenty of feedback, though a slightly quicker steering ratio would be welcome. Still, for a company not known for great steering feel - especially when incorporating electrically assisted setups - this is a huge step forward." -- Autoblog (GT)
  • "The steering is path-accurate. The brake pedal feels positive, with immediate bite and response. Handling is excellent on smooth surfaces. The ride quality is surprisingly supple, with excellent body control." -- Automobile Magazine (sedan, 2011)

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