2019 Hyundai Elantra

Performance


#10 out of 21 in Compact Cars

$17,200 MSRP
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2019 Hyundai Elantra Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.8

The 2019 Hyundai Elantra provides a comfortable ride over most road surfaces, and it’s composed on winding roads. However, it lacks the athleticism of many class rivals, due in large part to its underwhelming engine lineup. On the bright side, fuel economy numbers are pretty good for the class, especially in the Eco trim.

  • "It's difficult to truly exploit this car's handling capabilities mainly due to its powertrain shortcomings and low-grip tires. The Elantra feels composed in most cases, with the potential to be playful if it had the proper tires for it." -- Edmunds
  • "We found the Elantra to be competent and capable, if never truly outright fun to drive." -- Left Lane News (2017)
  • "But how's it drive? Very good. In fact, better than you'd expect given the Elantra's not exactly mind-blowing power output." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Acceleration and Power

You have plenty of engine options in this Hyundai. The Elantra comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 147 horsepower in sedan models and 161 horsepower in GT hatchback models. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available. Elantra Eco models feature a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 128 horsepower, and it’s mated to a seven-speed automatic. Elantra Sport models feature a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 201 horsepower. A six-speed manual comes standard, and a seven-speed automatic is available.

Simply put, the engines limit the Elantra's driving enjoyment. The base engine moves the car well enough, but it's not all that energetic. GT and Sport models move with the most authority of any Elantra, but they still don't feel fast, especially compared to some rivals.

According to EPA estimates, the Elantra earns 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway with its base engine. Those are typical ratings for a compact car. The Elantra GT gets lower ratings of 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, but the Elantra Eco gets the best fuel economy in the lineup, at 32/40 mpg city/highway.

  • "This base engine was adequate in most situations and will suit many buyers, though you'll want to plan well ahead to pass that semi." -- Cars.com (2018)
  • "If the Elantra has a downside, it's performance. The 2.0-liter engine that most Elantras come with isn't as powerful as those in some other top small sedans. Hyundai does offer two optional turbocharged engines, which might have added appeal, but the dual-clutch automatic transmission that they come with doesn't have the smoothest-shifting characteristics." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "You have to poke the 2.0 deeply to get any real thrust, but the torque band is acceptably broad and it serves its duties with a muted and dispassionate growl." -- Car and Driver (2017)

Handling and Braking

The Elantra handles well enough to be called playful, though it's still a far cry from rivals like the Mazda3. In fairness, that's partly because the lackluster powertrains prevent this car from realizing its full potential. Ride quality is generally good, and the Elantra absorbs most road imperfections.

You can select from up to three modes (Normal, Sport, and Smart) that alter driving dynamics to better suit your preferences. Like most compact cars, the Elantra is a front-wheel-drive vehicle. All-wheel drive is not available.

  • "The Elantra has a pretty nice ride for a compact car. Sharp impacts are softened to a pleasant degree without the suspension feeling overly mushy. It remains composed over bumpy sections of road. It's one of the most appealing aspects of the car." -- Edmunds
  • "The new car's controls are well weighted and responsive, and the Elantra can hustle when it needs to, the suspension digesting the road and not easily thrown off its path by rough pavement. It's no Mazda 3, but at least it's a stiff platform on which to base sportier models such as the aforementioned Elantra Sport." -- Car and Driver (2017)
  • "The steering in particular is vastly improved. While feedback is still lacking, the wheel is far more trustworthy than it was previously. It was easy to catch the car washing out when being hustled up tighter uphill sections, the understeer coming on predictably and reliably." -- Left Lane News (2017)
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