Hyundai’s long-lived Elantra compact sedan, the brand’s top-selling car, gets a dramatic redesign for 2021, and a first-ever hybrid Elantra joins the lineup along with an N Line performance-oriented model. Something for everyone.
The all-new seventh-generation Elantra is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, transformed into a high style, streamlined beauty while maintaining Elantra’s reputation as a great value. Interior space is not diminished by the design modifications and in some areas is increased.
Elantra’s new vehicle platform improves fuel economy, safety, handling and performance.
The previous Elantra’s standard powertrain is used in the 2021 version, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine delivering 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, joined to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It has front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is not available.
Hybrid Elantra models produce 139 combined horsepower and have a six-speed automatic transmission. The turbocharged Elantra N Line makes 201 horsepower and is available with a six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed automatic. These two new Elantra models qualify for separate attention, so we’re focusing on the standard Elantra here. It’s also the one I drove, so there’s that.
Trim levels for the 2021 Hyundai Elantra are SE, SEL, and Limited. Pricing with a $1,005 destination charge included starts at $20,655 for the SE. The SEL is $21,905 and the Limited is $26,455. (For the record, N Line pricing slots between the SEL and Limited. The hybrid is offered in two different trims, for $24,555 or $29,105.)
The Elantra SE comes with a heap of safety and driver-assist features, 15-inch alloy wheels, remote keyless entry, cruise control, cloth seats, six-way adjustable driver’s seat (including height adjustment), four-way adjustable front passenger seat, air conditioning, Bluetooth, 8-inch display audio with four speakers, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, two USB ports, and a 12V outlet.
The mid-level SEL model sees what the SE offers and raises it by 16-inch alloy wheels, proximity key with push-button start and hands-free trunk release, dual automatic climate control, six-speaker audio, SiriusXM radio, and Blue Link connected car services.
My tester was an SEL with a couple of tasty options: Convenience and Premium packages adding desirable features such as a Qi wireless charging pad, heated front seats and heated outside mirrors, 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, eight-speaker Bose premium audio, power sunroof, power driver’s seat with lumbar, forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection, smart cruise control with stop and go, and split folding rear seatbacks (a bench folding rear seatback is standard).
The new Elantra interior matches its exterior in style and upscale impression. Construction quality is excellent and the materials employed feel built to last. Front seat passengers are afforded plenty of room, but even back seat occupiers are treated with respect, space-wise. As long as they aren’t seated in the middle.
Infotainment system characteristics are friendly and intuitive overall, with volume and tuning knobs in addition to touchscreen operation and steering wheel controls.
Fuel economy ratings for the Elantra SE are 33 mpg city, 43 mpg highway, and 37 mpg combined. Numbers for the SEL and Limited are 31/41/35 mpg. Regular unleaded gas is recommended across the board.
Equipped with the standard four-cylinder engine, Elantra doesn’t blast off from a standstill in a flurry, but it isn’t underpowered, either. Given the improvements in appearance, technologies, ride and handling, the trusty Hyundai Elantra has raised its own high bar.
2021 HYUNDAI ELANTRA SEL
Base price, including destination charge: $21,905
Price as driven: $25,110
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.