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2016 Hyundai Elantra Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Hyundai Elantra was new.


Performance: 6.1

The 2016 Hyundai Elantra has stable handling but isn't especially fun to drive, according to reviewers. They caution that the ride is uncomfortable over rough roads. The base four-cylinder engine has adequate power in most cases, and acceleration is stronger with the larger available four-cylinder engine, according to test drivers. With the base engine, the 2016 Elantra gets good fuel economy for a compact car.

  • "Hyundai's 2016 Elantra sedan and GT 5-door split the difference between the firm ride of the Mazda3 and Ford Focus, and the softer uninspiring performance of cars like the Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The popular 1.8-liter engine, meanwhile, can struggle a bit when climbing hills or dealing with a full roster of passengers. Opting for the Sport with its stronger 2.0-liter engine could be wise, but you'll lose some fuel efficiency in the process." -- Edmunds
  • "Most notably, performance has improved thanks to the Sport model's stronger 2.0-liter engine, and there's more refinement too, thanks to a variety of added noise-suppressing measures. However, just because Hyundai has addressed some concerns doesn't mean that the Elantra is perfect. The car's structure still feels a little less solid than the best in this segment (you can feel a difference on rough roads. …" -- Autotrader (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The Hyundai Elantra sedan comes standard with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 145 horsepower, and the Elantra sedan Sport and GT hatchback come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 173 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional with either engine. With the base engine and automatic transmission, the 2016 Elantra sedan returns an EPA-estimated 28/38 mpg city/highway, which is good for the class.

Test drivers write that the base engine has sufficient power in most cases but doesn't feel particularly punchy. Most recommend choosing a model with the larger engine for its added power, though they caution that it uses more fuel. A few critics say the manual transmission feels imprecise. Some praise the automatic's quick shifts but mention that it occasionally has trouble finding the right gear.

  • "The Elantra sedan's 1.8-liter engine can muster only 145 horsepower, yet when teamed with the available 6-speed automatic, performs on par with other compacts in the field. While we applaud the standard manual transmission, the 6-speed unit in the Elantra feels vague and uninspiring. Opt for the Elantra Sport sedan or GT hatchback, and you'll get a much more robust performance from the 173-horsepower 2.0-liter engine." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Elantra's standard 1.8-liter engine provides adequate performance in most situations, but it's definitely one of the weaker options in this class, and it also suffers from abrupt accelerator response. If you do find it lacking, the Sport trim level's larger 2.0-liter engine will likely be a worthwhile upgrade despite the fuel economy penalty. Either way, the automatic transmission is usually a smooth operator, but it can occasionally vacillate between gears." -- Edmunds
  • "Under the hood, no one would call the 1.8-liter engine a powerhouse. … We prefer the automatic transmission because it serves up some of the most responsive downshifts you'll find at any price. The Sport's 2.0-liter engine, familiar from Kia's compact cars, provides more punch, but it's not particularly refined, and fuel economy takes a hit." -- Autotrader (2015)

Handling and Braking

Both the 2016 Hyundai Elantra sedan and Elantra GT hatchback have front-wheel drive. According to most reviewers, the Elantra has steady handling but isn't very sporty, although a few mention that the Elantra GT feels more nimble around turns than the sedan. Several critics caution that the Elantra feels unsettled and uncomfortable on rough roads.

  • "Driven around turns, the Elantra feels stable and secure, though it's not particularly engaging, even with the Sport trim's firmer suspension. Our biggest gripe here regards the car's harsh ride quality over bigger bumps and potholes, making it feel unrefined compared with several key rivals." -- Edmunds
  • "Those who favor comfort should go with an SE or Limited sedan, while fans of a firm suspension and more agile cornering should look to the 5-door GT." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "On the one hand, the car feels nimble on the road, carving through corners with unexpected grace, particularly atop the available sport-tuned suspension. On the other hand, the Elantra's chassis quivers on rough pavement, falling short of the solidity standard set by stalwarts such as the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus. It's not a big deal, but it does take a bite out of the car's otherwise refined character. Overall, though, we find the Elantra's driving dynamics quite agreeable." -- Autotrader (2015)

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