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by Fred Staab
Small cars have been ignored for quite awhile by many manufacturers; cast off as money-losers in favor of high-profit SUVs. Some aging platforms have been forced to soldier on long after their time has passed. This situation has left the door open for Korean manufacturers such as Hyundai to fill the gap.
With some Hyundai dealers reporting 100-percent increases in 2001 model year sales it seemed time to take a look at one of their more popular models, the redesigned Elantra.
Our champagne-colored Hyundai Elantra GLS test car came equipped with only a few options, including California emissions, carpeted floor mats and cargo net, for a grand total of $216 in extras. With a base price of $13,299, you might think things would be looking pretty bleak.
Happily, you’d be in for a surprise. The biggest headline in the Elantra story is the large list of standard equipment. Our test GLS had power locks, windows and mirrors included. Air conditioning was also standard, along with an AM/FM cassette-radio with four speakers. There were also variable intermittent wipers, a tilt steering column and a 60/40-split rear-folding seat – all at no additional cost.
Making a model like the GLS is cheaper for Hyundai than offering a hundred options and essentially custom-building cars for not much profit. And offering this level of equipment as standard also makes purchasing an Elantra simpler, since you don’t end up having to buy additional option packages just to get A/C, for example. If you do desire more equipment, a six-speaker 100-watt AM/FM/ CD player, cruise control and power sunroof are available options.Upscale bod
Hyundai completely redesigned the exterior of the Elantra for 2001 by making its design lean more toward upscale-European than basic economy.
Up front, they installed molded trapezoidal halogen headlight units that also incorporate turn signals; the small oval grill is an integral part of the hood. The sheetmetal flows toward the tail with a crisp detail line, finishing with a rear that appears to take its cues from Acura and Lexus. The fresh body panels result in a slippery 0.333 coefficient of drag.