By Larry Lark, contributor
Compact sedans are not in vogue now, but the 2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL makes one wonder why.
The South Korean auto manufacturer launched Elantra’s seventh generation with the current model year, introducing a new vehicle platform, longer wheelbase, wider stance, and lower roofline.
And a new look. Hyundai is calling it “Sensous Sportiness.” Not sure I would take it that far, but its fair to acknowledge that car’s exotic four-door coupe design with innovative molding and engineering technology.
“While some manufacturers no longer see the value in the car side of the business, we’re doubling down by offering an all-new model with both gas and hybrid powertrains,” said José Muñoz, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. “ The new, captivating look is going to bring excitement to a whole new generation of buyers. Then once inside, they’re going to love all of the progressive features.”
Having three lines meet at one point is a main ingredient in making the colorful parametric dynamics of Elantra. Using this design element was a daring challenge, one that had been avoided in car design, marking Elantra’s “disrupter-spirit”.
My tester was powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates 147 horsepower, and is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Sport model features a turbocharged, four-cylinder, 1.6-liter engine that produces 201 horsepower.
Elantra seats four adults with minimal discomfort, and the trunk in generous for a compact. The SEL delivered over 30 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving, with a range over 400 miles. The hybrid model delivers over 50 mpg fuel economy.
Combining the new platform with a modern powertrain allows the car to respond quickly to the driver’s inputs and provide a quiet, solid ride on the highway. The nimble driving dynamics match the bold exterior design, making it more than a simple commuter car.
The navigation system includes a bird’s-eye view in navigation maps, and drivers get connected routing. Connected routing provides multiple navigation options and real-time route updates. Server-based routing makes the onboard navigation experience similar to current smartphone navigation apps.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also look great on this 10.25-inch widescreen display. Dual Bluetooth support is also available, so two devices can be paired at the same time—one for phone calls and one for streaming audio.
Elantra allows owners to leave their cell phone cords at home. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available as segment-first features, allowing one to leave your phone in a pocket or purse.
The 2021 Elantra offers a new array of standard advanced safety technologies:
Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection uses the car’s front-facing
camera to help detect an imminent collision with a vehicle or pedestrian and avoid impact or minimize damage by braking automatically.
Lane Keeping Assist helps prevent accidental lane departure by sensing road markings, and assists steering the car if necessary.
Lane Following Assist provides steering assistance to help keep the vehicle centered in its lane of travel.
High Beam Assist eliminates the need for drivers to manually switch high beams on and off at night for oncoming traffic.
Driver Attention Warning monitors driving behavior to help detect possible driver fatigue.
Rearview camera with dynamic guidelines
Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist helps detect vehicles in the drivers’ blind spot while the turn signal is on and may apply braking to minimize potential for a collision.
Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist helps detect rear cross traffic vehicles while reversing and may apply braking to minimize potential for a collision.
Safe Exit Warning may sound an alert when a vehicle approaches from behind, letting passengers know it may not be safe to open the door to exit the vehicle.
Base Price: $21,895
Price As Driven: $23,795
Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.