2017 Chevrolet Cruze vs. 2017 Hyundai Elantra: Compare Cars

December 9, 2016
2016 Chevrolet Cruze

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

Enlarge Photo

Today's economy cars are do-it-alls. They're practically mid-sizers, with styling that has set trends, and features that sometimes outpoint much more expensive rivals.

Two highly-rated four-door sedans fight head to head for shoppers looking for reasonable performance for about $20,000--but between them, is the 2017 Hyundai Elantra or the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze the better choice?

MORE: Read our 2017 Hyundai Elantra review and 2017 Chevrolet Cruze review

The redesigned Cruze has a handsome, wedge-shaped profile that's crisper and more modern than its slab-sided, three-box predecessor. It's got a lot of curves, angles, and accent lines that mostly work together but border on the busy. It also looks remarkably like the Volt plug-in hybrid hatchback introduced this year as well. Inside, however, its high-quality materials and intuitive controls set it apart.

2017 Hyundai Elantra

2017 Hyundai Elantra

Enlarge Photo
2017 Hyundai Elantra

2017 Hyundai Elantra

Enlarge Photo
2017 Hyundai Elantra

2017 Hyundai Elantra

Enlarge Photo
2017 Hyundai Elantra

2017 Hyundai Elantra

Enlarge Photo

The Hyundai is less visually audacious than it was in its previous form. It's still a more attractive and elegant vehicle than the new Cruze, though. With curved and crested sheetmetal, plus a kicky line pulling the rear end up and shoveling the shape forward, it's an eager look that's grown more substantial-looking, with its wide front end. Some viewers even saw a hint of Audi A7 in the roofline. The cabin is plainer and fitted with more grainy plastic, though, and it's lost the distinctive hourglass shape of the center stack of controls and replaced with with a more anodyne binnacle of gauges and screens.

For performance, the Cruze earns our kudos for its ride quality, though the Elantra has made big strides in that area. Straight-line performance is a wash. The new Cruze offers only a single engine, a 153-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four, which gets fuel-economy ratings of 35 mpg combined with the six-speed automatic transmission that'll be the most common choice.

Elantra sedans with the 147-hp 2.0-liter four and six-speed automatic are rated at 32 mpg combined, or 35 mpg in Eco trim, with a smaller-displacement 1.6-liter turbo four engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Neither is particularly quick or slow, and both offer a quietness that many top-ranked rivals can't match--the Civic and Mazda 3, notably.

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

Enlarge Photo
2016 Chevrolet Cruze

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

Enlarge Photo
2016 Chevrolet Cruze

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

Enlarge Photo
2016 Chevrolet Cruze

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

Enlarge Photo

The Elantra and the Cruze are fairly evenly matches for a smooth ride and confident driving feel. Neither is particularly eager or tossable, but both have an absorbent ride that's taut enough to avoid bobbly handling. The Elantra's steering has a bit more wander than the Cruze's, but while they're not sport sedans, they're both better than their predecessors in driving feel.

Both the Elantra and Cruze offer up sizable interior room for front passengers, with more usable space for rear-seaters. Both are relatively large inside, with nicely bolstered front bucket seats and adequate rear-seat leg room--though the Elantra gets the edge in the rear. Both are strong on storage space, too.

The winner in safety remains to be seen. Neither new model has been fully crash-tested yet, but both offer active-safety systems like blind-spot alert, lane-keeping assist, and forward collision warning. The Elantra, however, has two optional features the Cruze doesn't offer on any model: adaptive cruise control and automatic crash braking.

Among other features, the Elantra has standard power windows, locks, and mirrors; Bluetooth; and a USB port. Hyundai's optional navigation system can be fitted with real-time traffic information and a rearview camera, and its LCD screen is one of the largest in the class. The MyLink connectivity system in the Cruze offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard, and it also offers navigation, as well as heated leather seats and automatic climate control, on high-end models.

The Elantra has a slightly more elegant design, plus more optional safety technology. The Cruze outpoints it, however, with higher fuel economy across the board and a fresher, more youthful set of equipment.

___________________________________________

Follow The Car Connection on Facebook and Twitter.

Summary

7.6
Expert Rating
The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze inches closer to mid-size, while growing lighter, leaner, and more fuel-efficient.
6.8
Expert Rating
We miss the brash, buzzy looks, for sure—but the 2017 Hyundai Elantra is now one of the most refined economy cars on the road.

Styling

7.0
Expert Rating
The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze uses the same rakish, wedge-shaped profile as the Volt and similar cockpit styling; if anything, they're too close in style.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The 2017 Hyundai Elantra has a more subdued look than its predecessor.
Read More

Performance

7.0
Expert Rating
The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze presently offers just one engine; it handles well but is more of a competent all-rounder than a sport sedan.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
Performance by usual yardsticks is just average, but the 2017 Hyundai Elantra's one of the most composed small cars we've driven.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze rides quietly and offers decent but not extraordinary interior room.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The 2017 Hyundai Elantra isn't much bigger than before—it's still one of the biggest, most comfortable small sedans you can buy.
Read More

Safety

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze hasn't yet been fully rated by the NHTSA or IIHS; it offers most of the latest active-safety aids, but not all.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The 2017 Elantra performs well in IIHS testing, but the feds came up with different results.
Read More

Features

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze trim levels are carefully staggered from affordable base to fully optioned Premier.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The Elantra has added more tech features, while prices have stayed stable.
Read More

Fuel Economy

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is rated at 33 to 35 mpg combined, competitive with the latest entrants in its class.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
Fuel economy is very good, if not class-leading, in the 2017 Hyundai Elantra.
Read More

MSRP

from $16,620
from $17,150

Invoice

from $16,536
from $16,621

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

33
29

Engine

Turbocharged Gas I4, 1.4L
Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.0 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Compare Free Dealer Price Quote
With competitive price quotes from multiple dealers, you will be prepared when you meet your local car dealer. Please tell us how to contact you so that dealers can compete for your business!
Search Dealers by ZIP Code
Update ZIP Code
2016 Chevrolet Cruze
2017 Hyundai Elantra
Looking for dealers in your area...
Powered By
We are committed to your privacy. By submitting this form you agree the phone number you provided may be used to contact you (including text, autodialed or pre-recorded calls). Consent is not a condition of purchase.
2018
The Car Connection
See the winners »
2018
The Car Connection
 
Ratings and Reviews
Rate and review your car for The Car Connection
Review your car
Related Head to Head
The Car Connection Daily Headlines
I agree to receive emails from the site. I can withdraw my consent at any time by unsubscribing.
Thank you! Please check your email for confirmation.