- Very roomy interior, with adult-worthy back-seat space
- Huge trunk
- Responsive acceleration, even with automatic
- Respectable fuel economy ratings
- Conservative exterior styling plays it too safe
- Doesn’t feel as sporty as other small cars
- Engine noise can be prominent when accelerating
The 2008 Hyundai Elantra doesn’t have a lot of personality, but it’s the undeniable practical choice.
The 2008 Hyundai Elantra is the South Korean brand's compact sedan, slotting between the small Rio and the mid-size Sonata in the lineup. Completely redesigned last year, the current Elantra sedan is wider and longer, with more interior room than before--enough to make it a mid-size by some considerations.
With either the standard five-speed manual transmission or the optional four-speed automatic transmission, the 2008 Hyundai Elantra has respectable acceleration. The Elantra's 138-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is surprisingly responsive with the automatic and qualifies for SULEV (Super Low Emissions Vehicle) status.
The 2008 Hyundai Elantra is quite softly sprung, to soak up jarring bumps, but large stabilizer bars help bring crisp handling with good ride comfort. The electric power steering system works very well, light at low speed and firm yet responsive at high speed.
Matching Hyundai's other vehicles, the interior follows a soft--not edgy--design, with rounded borders and flowing curves. Switchgear and gauges in the 2008 Hyundai Elantra are straightforward and tactile, and the instrument panel's design, with the high-mounted sound and climate-control functions, is convenient. Seating in front is generously proportioned and comfortable, and there's enough headroom and legroom in back for two--or, in a pinch, three--normal-size adults, which is unusual among small sedans. By the numbers, with 97.9 cubic feet of passenger room and 14.2 cubic feet of trunk space, it has the most interior volume for a sedan in its class.
It's also one of the quietest interiors, with very little road and wind noise; however, the engine in the 2008 Hyundai Elantra can get coarse and booming under hard acceleration.
Two trim levels are offered: GLS and SE. All versions of the 2008 Hyundai Elantra come standard with power windows, power heated rearview mirrors, power door locks, remote keyless entry with alarm and trunk opener, rear center armrest with cup holders, intermittent windshield wipers, and tilt steering wheel. For 2008, the Elantra SE adds a telescoping leather steering wheel with secondary audio controls, a leather shift knob, 16-inch alloy wheels with P205/55HR16 tires, and a trip computer.
Options include a Bluetooth hands-free system, as well as a package that brings leather seating surfaces, leather door panel inserts, a leather armrest, and heated front seats. A Sun and Sound package combines a power sunroof and a 220-watt premium audio system featuring AM/FM/six-CD changer/MP3 with auxiliary input jack and an external amp.
Stability control and brake assist are also standard on the SE for the new model year. Front, side, and curtain airbags are standard across the Elantra lineup; so too are anti-lock brakes and active head restraints. Despite all that safety equipment, the 2008 Hyundai Elantra gets acceptable but not stellar results, including four stars for side impact in the federal government tests and Acceptable ratings for rear impact from the IIHS. The Elantra did, however, get top scores in frontal impact on both tests.