Reviewers at TheCarConnection.com find that 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. With either the standard five-speed manual transmission or the optional four-speed automatic transmission, the 2009 Hyundai Elantra has respectable acceleration.
While many sources agree that the engine of the 2009 Hyundai Elantra is "zippy," Cars.com notes that "getting up to highway speeds requires revving the engine high, creating enough noise to drown out the stereo." The reviewer adds, "passing at highway speeds requires a downshift or two," and "even then it takes patience and timing." ConsumerGuide reports that "acceleration in the sedan is adequate with either transmission, but it's far from snappy." If it lacks power, this year's model has some redeeming qualities, although the "Elantra's 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is an old design and isn't as refined as those found in its Japanese competitors," according to Edmunds. The reviewer remarks that "it's surprisingly responsive and returns pretty good fuel economy."
Edmunds reports, "All trim levels can be equipped with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic." ConsumerGuide asserts that "the automatic transmission is smooth and responsive." Kelley Blue Book notes, however, that one "may not like this car if your daily drive demands constant gear shifting, as the five-speed does not have the smoothest operation."
EPA estimates for the 2009 Hyundai Elantra as reported via Cars.com are "28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with either the automatic or manual transmission." Edmunds observes "a very respectable 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway." Either way, mileage is a big plus for the 2009 Elantra.
Edmunds sings the praises of the 2009 Hyundai Elantra's ride; it "continues to impress, with decent steering and handling responses, as well as a smooth ride and a stable demeanor at high speeds." Kelley Blue Book considers it "a comfortable car to drive...secure and reliable," opining that "owners will likely appreciate its straight-forward predictability and control." ConsumerGuide reports that "the suspension allows some cornering lean, but the tires furnish good dry-road grip." The 2009 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. According to ConsumerGuide, the 2009 Elantra's "electric power steering is quick but feels a tad light." The Washington Post contends that "handling was sure, albeit lacking the precision that some throttle jockeys demand in everything."
The Elantra Touring actually has a quite different driving feel than the Elantra sedan, and Autoblog does a good job explaining why. “The Elantra Touring is very much a direct port of the i30 and actually has little in common with the four-door Elantra sedan, save for its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and transmission choices,” Autoblog says. “Rather, its closest mechanical cousin is the Euro-only Kia cee'd.”
Car and Driver is impressed with the overall feel of the Touring model, saying, “The Touring edition has pleasant road manners, good steering feel, adequate power, respectable grip, and forward sightlines worthy of a Honda.” However, Car and Driver continues to gripe that “the chassis feels a little flexy when pressed, and the suspension runs out of travel on rough roads.”
Cars.com is particularly impressed with the brakes of the 2009 Hyundai Elantra: "on paper, they're a full class above the rear drum brakes many rivals use...in practice, they delivered sure-footed stopping power." ConsumerGuide reports that "the brakes furnish fine stopping control and pedal feel."