Shopping for a new Hyundai Elantra?
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Hyundai continues its march on Toyota and Honda territory with a new 40-mpg compact sedan with more flair, better fuel economy and safety, and a lower price tag than the Civics and Corollas of today.
The 2011 Hyundai Elantra wins on so many fronts, we're awarding it a score of 8 on the FamilyCarGuide scale.
The big story is inside, where the Elantra upsizes the cabin to near mid-size proportions. Compared to the compacts in its class, the Elantra claims big front-seat leg and head room, and almost as much space for knees of adults in the back. The front seats themselves are somewhat flatter than we'd like but have ample track, so long-legged drivers can find a comfortable seating position.
The back seats are easy enough to get into and still have space to spare when the fronts are at the back of their tracks, but head room is skimpy for the tallest of passengers. If your 13-year-old has hit a growth spurt, put him in back first before you buy. The trunk has a wide opening and it's decently trimmed for durability--years of sliding suitcases and Sam's Club finds should be easy--and the back seats fold down nearly flat to increase storage space when you only need the front seats. The Elantra also has plenty of storage inside, from the cubby in front of the shifter to the deep door pockets.
Safety is proving to be an Elantra selling point, too. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety calls it a Top Safety Pick, and the standard-equipment list includes curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control, while a rearview camera is available.
The styling themes that work mostly well on the larger Sonata sedan play out almost perfectly on the pert Elantra. From the rear quarters in particular, the Elantra's styling seems to put it in motion even when it's standing still--it's the mashup at the roofline and the C-shaped cut of the rear doors that boomerangs it forward, visually. The interior works marvelously, with the center stack of controls bowing in to accommodate knees instead of pushing against them with the hard dash surface. The sole complaint is the flimsy-feeling A/C knob, which rotates cheaply as it flops from cold to warm air.