- backseat spacious enough for adults
- Smooth ride
- Roomy trunk
- Responsive acceleration, even with automatic
- Respectable fuel economy ratings
- Unexciting exterior styling (sedan)
- Sedan doesn’t feel at all sporty
- Coarse engine sound when accelerating
The 2009 Hyundai Elantra is one of the most practical—albeit bland—small-sedan choices, while the new Elantra Touring hatchback adds a little more spice.
The 2009 Hyundai Elantra models slot between the mid-sized Sonata and subcompact Rio. The Elantra was completely redesigned for 2007 to be wider, longer, and bigger on the interior; some consider the 2009 Hyundai Elantra more of a mid-sized sedan than a compact.
For 2009, a five-door hatchback model, called the Elantra Touring, joins the lineup; the edgier, more rakish profile of the hatchback stands in contrast to the more conservative look of the sedan.
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.
The electric power steering system in the 2009 Elantra works very well, light at low speed and firm yet responsive at high speed. The 2009 Hyundai Elantra is quite softly sprung and soaks up jarring bumps with the finesse of a larger sedan, while Elantra Touring models get firmer springs and bigger stabilizer bars.
Seating in front is generously proportioned and comfortable in the 2009 Hyundai Elantra, 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. Matching Hyundai's other vehicles, the interior follows a soft—not edgy—design, with rounded borders and flowing curves. Switchgear and gauges in the 2009 Hyundai Elantra are straightforward and tactile, and the instrument panel's design, with the high-mounted sound and climate-control functions, is convenient.
It's also one of the quietest interiors, with very little road and wind noise; however, the engine in the 2009 Hyundai Elantra can grow coarse and booming under hard acceleration.
The 2009 Hyundai Elantra gets acceptable but not stellar crash-test results, including four stars for side impact in the federal government tests, Acceptable ratings for rear impact from the IIHS, and a Marginal rating for side impact. The Elantra did, however, garner top scores in frontal impact on both tests. Stability control and brake assist are also standard on the SE. Front, side, and curtain airbags are standard across the Elantra lineup; so too are anti-lock brakes and active head restraints.
Two trim levels are offered: GLS and SE. All versions of the 2009 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. 2008 added 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. 2009 adds XM Satellite Radio and auxiliary USB inputs for the audio system.
A Sun and Sound package combines a power sunroof and a 220-watt premium audio system. 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.
2009 Hyundai Elantra
The 2009 Hyundai Elantra is quite softly styled both inside and out. It won't turn heads, but it also won't offend.
Editors at TheCarConnection.com note that the styling of the 2009 Hyundai Elantra is in no way off-putting—but it's also pretty generic.
Kelley Blue Book praises the exterior of the 2009 Hyundai Elantra, noting its similarity to its bigger sibling: "The impressive exterior styling, with its clean lines and sculpted body sides, borrows design characteristics from the larger and more expensive Hyundai Azera." The Washington Post is also a fan of the 2009 Elantra's styling. The reviewer considers it "unpretentious," stating the Elantra "does not pretend to be hot, hip, sexy or wicked. Instead, it proudly presents its credentials as an economy-mobile." Of this year's model, Cars.com says "the new Elantra adopts a taller, curvier look," remarking that "it follows the look of the full-size Azera sedan—which is not the most distinctive design."
Regarding the interior, reviews fall on both sides of the matter. Kelley Blue Book says the Elantra is "not necessarily an example of modern style," criticizing "the SE's somewhat dated-looking velvety seat fabric, the instrument panel with its expanses of plastic and the over-designed door panels [which] appear a little old-fashioned." ConsumerGuide likes the "large, clear gauges" and explains that "climate and audio controls are simple and handy." Edmunds notes that the Hyundai's "interior quality is quite literally hit or miss," although "the overall design is attractive and pleasing, looking as if it belongs in a much more expensive car." ConsumerGuide concurs, reporting that "plush cloth upholstery, attractive plastics, and many soft-touch surfaces belie Elantra's pricing. So does its classy blue dashboard lighting."
2009 Hyundai Elantra
The 2009 Hyundai Elantra isn't edgy in its performance, but it handles well and offers solid fuel economy; those who want more might be happier with the Touring.
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."
2009 Hyundai Elantra
Comfort & Quality
The 2009 Hyundai Elantra suffers from some wind and engine noise. Fortunately, however, space is generous and materials are high quality—especially in the Touring.
Editors at TheCarConnection.com find that the 2009 Hyundai Elantra offers excellent interior space and overall commitment to quality.
Seating in the front of the 2009 Hyundai Elantra is amply proportioned and comfortable. Cars.com reports the Elantra's "cloth seats are comfortable, with substantial cushions and ample back support"; however, this year's Hyundai Elantra loses a point because "lumbar adjustment for the driver's seat is not available." Edmunds contends that adults will "appreciate the Elantra's generous amount of space provided by the generous head, shoulder, hip and legroom found in both the front and rear seats." ConsumerGuide points out "adequate headroom and legroom, though taller occupants may want more room...wide ranging seat and steering wheel adjustments [that] enhance driver comfort."
In the backseat of the 2009 Hyundai Elantra, results are mixed. Kelley Blue Book finds that space in the 2009 Hyundai Elantra is adequate all around: "the roominess, headroom and rear-seat legroom are welcome in a car of this size... Elantra can comfortably and safely pack in a family of five and its cargo." MotherProof pipes up to say, "I'm going out on a limb here to let you know that the Hyundai Elantra is downright and surprisingly roomy." ConsumerGuide reports that the "...[back row has] adult-size room." Cars.com, however, is not a fan of backseat space in the 2009 Hyundai Elantra: "the seats are high enough off the ground that legroom is bearable, but headroom is tight."
Storage in the 2009 Hyundai Elantra is generous overall. ConsumerGuide reports "more trunk space than many cars in this class," but notes "the slim opening and sickle-type trunk lid hinges compromise utility." According to Cars.com, the "seatback folds in a 60/40 split, exposing a small opening to the trunk," which measures 14.2 cubic feet—"more than nearly all the Elantra's major competitors." Edmunds also notes "plenty of cubbies." MotherProof is very excited about storage in the 2009 Hyundai Elantra, citing "all the wonderful consoles and storage for the driver and front passenger." The reviewer is a particular fan of the "lidded compartment on top of the dashboard perfect for pens, paper, snacks, and cell phones."
Autoblog gushes over the Elantra Touring interior, saying that since it’s based on the European I30, its materials have a good look and feel. “Go ahead, poke the dash—it'll give,” the reviewer urges. “Do that in some competitors and you'll sprain your finger.”
ConsumerGuide appreciates the interior overall: "plush cloth upholstery, attractive plastics, and many soft-touch surfaces belie [the 2009 Hyundai] Elantra's pricing. So does the classy blue dashboard lighting." Cars.com suggests, "Beyond some cheap door panels and a rubbery steering wheel, there was little to suggest the [Hyundai] Elantra as tested cost less than $16,000...the dash is trimmed in soft-touch materials, the buttons feel high-quality and the ceiling has an upscale woven texture." Edmunds, however, is less complimentary about the 2009 Hyundai Elantra's "likable interior," which "is otherwise let down by a few low-grade interior plastics." While acknowledging that "top-quality plastics and other materials are utilized throughout," they are "betrayed by some cheap plastics here and there, as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel (on the SE trim), [which is] prone to making your hands feel a bit clammy."
Car and Driver calls the cargo space in the Elantra Touring “remarkable,” pointing to its 65 cubic-foot capacity with the backseats folded, and deems it “a very pleasant and useful small car.”
This year's 2009 Hyundai Elantra isn't the quietest car on the road. ConsumerGuide remarks that the "engine is a bit noisy at high rpm but is never unpleasant," while noting "some wind rush...evident around the exterior mirrors," but concludes that "road and tire noise are impressively low for the class." Cars.com, however, reports "wheels and suspension provide little in the way of sound deadening, so there's plenty of road noise at highway speeds."
2009 Hyundai Elantra
With unimpressive crash-test results but a decent array of safety features, the 2009 Hyundai Elantra barely makes the grade.
Editors at TheCarConnection.com find that the 2009 Hyundai Elantra offers plenty of fabulous safety features, but it’s hard to overlook lackluster side-impact ratings for this small car.
Front, side, and curtain airbags are standard across the 2009 Hyundai Elantra lineup. MotherProof points out, "I want to note that there are six standard airbags in the Elantra, including side-curtain airbags for the back seat. Standard! I love it!" Also standard are anti-lock brakes and active head restraints; stability control and brake assist are standard on the SE for the new model year as well. The Washington Post concurs that the safety features available on the Hyundai Elantra "include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, curtain side airbags, and front side airbags."
With all that safety equipment, the 2009 Hyundai Elantra gets barely acceptable results. The Elantra sedan earns an "acceptable" rating for rear impact from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but just "marginal" in side impact. It also gets a mid-pack four stars for side impact in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests. The 2009 Hyundai Elantra does, however, garner top scores in frontal impact from both tests.
MotherProof also points out "three car seats will not fit in the back seat ... so take note of the fact that while the Elantra has the most interior space in its class, it's still not a school bus."
One issue is cited by Kelley Blue Book, which reports "visibility is slightly hampered aft and to right rear." Mother Proof concurs on this aspect of the 2009 Hyundai Elantra. The reviewer notes, "the back shelf comes up so high it's difficult to see out the rear window. It would seem odd to wish for a backup camera in a small budget car, but I do with the Elantra."
2009 Hyundai Elantra
The Hyundai Elantra offers a respectable slate of features, including upgraded audio features for 2009.
TheCarConnection.com finds that the 2009 Hyundai Elantra offers plenty of standard and optional equipment.
Overall, reviewers are impressed with the 2009 Hyundai Elantra. ConsumerGuide proclaims that "a robust feel, attractive prices and Hyundai's strong warranty also make Elantra a recommended pick." MotherProof cuts right to the chase and explains, "What strikes me about the Elantra is the fact that I never say to myself, 'I wish it had ...' I don't miss anything that isn't already there." All versions of the 2009 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. Edmunds points out that the "base GLS is sparsely equipped with 15-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a tilt steering wheel and full power accessories." The Washington Post reports that "all [Hyundai] Elantras have remote keyless entry and power windows," adding that "air conditioning, cruise control, and CD player are optional" for the Hyundai Elantra GLS but are "standard on SE."
Cars.com is particularly enthusiastic about the 2009 Hyundai's "abundant convenience features, most of which are rarities at this price—things like lighted vanity mirrors, a telescoping steering wheel, a sunglass holder and a rear armrest with cup holders."
The Hyundai Elantra GLS's optional Popular Equipment Package, however, "adds air-conditioning, foglights, cruise control, vanity mirrors and a six-speaker stereo with CD/MP3 player, auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio," Edmunds reports.
For 2009, XM Satellite Radio and USB inputs are newly offered for the audio system. Options include a Bluetooth hands-free system and 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.