The Hyundai Elantra has long been a solid choice in the economy sedan segment. But with its total redesign for the 2011 model year, expectations have risen exponentially thanks to its new head-turning design, outstanding fuel efficiency, comfortable interior, generous trunk space, long list of standard safety equipment and surprisingly upscale optional features. Clearly offering a lot of bang for the buck, the 2011 Elantra is primed and ready to go head-to-head with the segment's best.
And besides the visually obvious, there's also been under-the-hood revisions as well, including a new 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and new 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions, resulting in exceptional EPA gas mileage of 40 mpg on the highway.
The Elantra's interior space has grown to the point where the EPA deems it a midsize sedan, despite it still competing in the compact class. And this larger cabin can be had with upscale features not typically available from its competitors, such as heated rear seats, a rearview camera and keyless entry/ignition.
As much as the new Elantra may have going for it, it's always wise to check out worthy rivals to help make the most informed final buying decision. Top picks would of course include the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3 as year-in and year-out favorites. Others perhaps worth consideration include the new Chevy Cruze and the Volkswagen Jetta. But overall, the Elantra's mix of looks, fuel economy, interior space and bang for the buck may very well shake up the top standings.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2011 Hyundai Elantra is a compact sedan available in two trims: GLS and Limited.
Standard features on the Elantra GLS include power windows, power doorlocks, power mirrors, 15-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, a trip computer, heated mirrors, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a tilt steering wheel and a 6-speaker audio system with satellite radio, a CD player and a USB/iPod interface.
Available optional features for the GLS include the Popular Equipment package that adds cruise control, air conditioning, a telescoping steering wheel and 16-inch steel wheels, while the Preferred Equipment package adds steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth, 16-inch alloy wheels, a sliding armrest on the center console and illuminated vanity mirrors and sun visor extensions.
Moving up to the Elantra Limited gets everything above plus leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, a sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels and foglamps. There's also an optional Navigation package (named the Premium package for the Limited) for both models that adds navigation, realtime traffic and weather, keyless entry/ignition (only on the Limited), automatic headlights and a premium 360-watt stereo system.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
Under the hood of the 2011 Hyundai Elantra is an all-new 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. Partial zero-emission vehicles (PZEV) sold in California and other states have a revised version of this engine that lowers production slightly to 145 horsepower and 130 lb-ft. GLS models are equipped with either the standard 6-speed manual transmission or the optional 6-speed automatic, while the Limited comes with the automatic as standard.
Fuel economy with either engine or transmission is outstanding, coming in with an EPA gas mileage estimate of 29 mpg city and 40 mpg on the highway.
Also impressive for this segment is impressive safety features that come standard on all 2011 Elantras, including antilock disc brakes (ABS), stability control, traction control, front seat side-impact airbags, active front head restraints, and side curtain airbags that cover both rows.
Govenment crash tests had not yet been completed on the new Elantra at the time of this writing.
The Elantra's cabin is attractive, roomy and user-friendly. The seating is comfortable and supportive, while there's an overall spacious and airy feeling up front with plenty of headroom even for taller drivers. The rear quarters, with its ample legroom, will also accommodate most adults, however, the car's sloping roofline can cause a tight situation for taller passengers in terms of headroom.
Also very useful is the Elantra's large trunk featuring a maximum cargo capacity of 14.8 cubic feet, quite generous for the segment.
While the 2011 Hyundai Elantra isn't engineered as a performance-oriented sedan and its slick looks and features are perhaps more impressive than its drive, it still holds its own and does an admirable job on the road. In fact, its well-tuned suspension and more rigid body structure provide a "fun to drive" personality. The steering is quick and precise while body roll is relatively minor through the turns. The car gives an overall well-planted and secure feeling in terms of handling.
And most will likely be satisfied with the new 1.8-liter engine's power production in daily driving as well as the smooth shifting automatic transmission. On the downside, the ride quality is on the somewhat firm side, although most people won't find it a problem. The engine can also get a bit noisy at high rpms.
Overall, this is an impressive car at an attractive price.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.
Those of you in the market for a used car may want to check out this article about how to buy a used car at the lowest price. It details a super effective buying method, one that often beats down prices to wholesale levels.
And somewhat related to this, here's another excellent method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.
In addition, you can also try Wholesale Auctions in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them at no cost in your own area.
2011 Hyundai Elantra:
GLS, manual: list price: $14,830, invoice price: $14,426
GLS, automatic: list price: $17,080, invoice price: $16,519
GLS PZEV, automatic: list price: $17,080, invoice price: $16,519
Limited, automatic: list price: $19,980, invoice price: $19,195
Limited PZEV, automatic: list price: $19,980, invoice price: $19,195