I can't believe that we aren't even to the end of the first quarter of 2016 and Hyundai has already decided to launch the new 2017 Elantra. Lucky for me, I was one of the first people invited to test it out. I'm generally not a fan of compact cars except for when they pack a lot of muscle. This car however did impress me in a lot of ways.
In case you haven't noticed, I'm a big fan of Hyundai. I simply love companies that know where they are going and continue to improve, innovate, and deliver fantastic products to the marketplace. Hyundai does that consistently across virtually all of their product lines and it shows. With sales of only about 100,000 cars in 1998 they are now approaching 800,000 vehicles sold per year. That's simply amazing for a company that just a few years ago was laughed at and told they could never compete with the big boys.
Over the years, they have moved for the "budget alternative" to producing some of the most technologically advanced, comfortable, stylish, and well manufacturers cars in the industry.
So that's why - despite not really caring for compact sedans - I decided to head down to Imperial Beach, California and test out the all new 2017 Elantra.
Hyundai has loaded the Elantra with pretty much every piece of technology and safety feature possible - even besting other vehicles that are 10's of thousands of dollars more. For example the ability to steer itself back into the lane if for some reason your hands leave the wheel used to be a luxury feature found only on cars double the price. Remember my comments earlier about how the Tucson was one of my favorite cars - close to perfect but just missing a few things. Well, I'm hoping and praying that as they refresh the Tucson that they are able to bring these features into that model as well at a similar price point.
On open roads, the Elantra performed well - it's not a sports car but it was fun to drive and with 147 horses it's fast enough to pass on the highway and get up to speed quickly on an entrance ramp.
Handling wise, it was really fun to drive on the twisty turny roads around the mountains east of San Diego. However, my personal feeling is that even with "sport mode" engaged, I'd like to have more power. I understand that there is a sport trim coming later this year to answer that, so I'm excited to give that a spin when it arrives.
One thing that is clearly evident on the outside is that the Elantra has bold styling that is both a little elegant and aggressive. Even these horses wanted to check it out when we stopped to take some pictures.
Inside, the interior is nice - with a "luxury light" feeling though the aggressive nature of the exterior design didn't continue inside unfortunately.
During our drive spanning several hours, it was clear that this car is better suited for commuting and driving around town vs long road trips. That being said, for a big guy, in a small car there was plenty of headroom, legroom, and shoulder space - something not always true in this class.
At the end of the day, this is a car that I would be happy to have sitting in my garage. It's a fantastic example of what Hyundai can do when they decide to make the best compact sedan on the market.