- Overall value
- Potent turbo engines
- Fun and roomy hatchback
- Good CVT
- Value Edition not so much value
- Too many trims
- Base SE can feel cheap
features & specs
The 2020 Hyundai Elantra is a well-equipped value.
The 2020 Hyundai Elantra is good at fitting in. It fits in a shrinking compact sedan segment, fits in most budgets with a base price below $20,000, and fits in more standard active safety features and above average fuel economy.
It doesn’t stand out, which makes it easy to overlook. But this would be a mistake. The Elantra is a well-equipped value that doesn’t feel, look, or drive like the budget-car basics of years ago. It earns a solid TCC Rating of 5.7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Elantra comes as either a sedan and hatchback. Our review encompasses both Elantra models, but our score is based on the more popular sedan rather than the more performance-oriented hatch.
The Elantra sedan is offered in SE, SEL, Value Edition, Limited, Eco, and Sport trims, while the GT hatchback comes in base and N Line trim for 2020.
Refreshed for 2019 with a more angular face, the biggest changes for the 2020 Elantra sedan are the use of a more efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT) and standard active safety features across the model line. The pricier and curvier GT hatchback carries on unchanged, except that Sport models are now called N Line, after the Veloster N model.
The CVT replaces the 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic in SE, SEL, Value Edition, and Limited sedan models powered by a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4. Fuel economy improves by 2 mpg combined. A 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is still used on the turbocharged Sport and Eco sedan, as well as the GT models.
The sedan is the popular choice, but the Elantra GT makes better use of interior space and comes with more upscale features. It also handles better and feels more like a European hatchback.
The sedan of choice is the SEL model, which comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as 16-inch alloy wheels, among the several upgrades over the base SE.
Active safety tech such as automatic emergency braking and active lane control is standard across the line, as are a 3.5-inch vehicle info display and dual-zone climate control.
2020 Hyundai Elantra
Compacts are the new mid-size sedan, and the 2020 Elantra fits well in these proportions.
Refreshed for 2019, the 2020 Elantra still looks contemporary, with a horizontally stretched grille and triangular headlights that wrap into the fenders. It’s angular, but with a better harmony than some of the more geometric experiments on other compacts.
We rate it 6 out of 10, for a clean design inside and out.
The Elantra GT hatchback still wears the less cohesive front without those triangular head and fog lights, but in the rear it has the blockier crossover shape that we prefer over the snubbed look of the compact sedan.
Inside, the sedan and hatchback are obvious relatives yet are their own cars. There’s a good use of interior storage space and pockets in both, but the cabin of the sedan is more integrated than the hatchback. The touchscreen (in three available sizes) is part of the dashboard design, whereas on the hatchback it sticks out like a mounted tablet. The three-dial climate control isn’t as busy in the sedan, with clearer temperature displays and larger buttons.
Sport models have red accent stitching in both the sedan and hatch, while the Sport sedan has a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
2020 Hyundai Elantra
The 2020 Hyundai Elantra gets a new, more efficient CVT that drives like an automatic.
With three different engine options and two transmission choices, the 2020 Hyundai Elantra offers a variation for any buyer, though most of them aren’t very exciting outside of the GT hatchback. In the entry-level compact sedan space, practicality is more important than excitement, and the Elantra is so practical it earns a solid 5 out of 10.
Overall, the Elantra offers a soft ride that isn’t loud inside. A rear torsion-beam axle common to compact sedans for its durability, lower cost, and interior space gains does a good job of soaking up road imperfections.
The smallest engine is the 128-hp 1.4-liter turbo-4 exclusive to the Eco sedan model. It’s paired to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission and has all the thrills you’d expect from an Eco model, yet it is only more efficient than base models with the CVT by 1 mpg combined.
Most Elantra sedans—SE, SEL, Value Edition, and Limited—use a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 with a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) that makes 132 pound-feet of torque in front-wheel drive.
The base engine is quiet with enough get-up to make any reasonable passing move and to merge onto highway traffic without hesitation. Replacing the limited 6-speed automatic transmission is a new CVT that approximates shift points based on how hard you’re pushing the pedal, much like an automatic except with much greater variability, which leads to better fuel economy. Hammer the throttle, for instance, and it will spin at about 5,000 rpm, and stay above 4,000 until you lay off the gas. In normal everyday driving, the transmission stays at about 1,300 rpm, which helps keep engine noise to a minimum. It is so well done, not just compared to the last generation of CVTs but even updated ones, that many drivers might confuse it for an automatic.
Elantra Sport and Elantra GT Sport
Shoppers might also confuse the Elantra GT hatchback’s two trims and the Elantra Sport sedan, however.
The Sport sedan is powered by a 201-hp 1.6-liter turbo-4 with a version of the Eco’s 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission retuned for later shift points. Easy enough.
Formerly known as the GT Sport, the GT N Line also has the Sport sedan’s engine. The base GT has a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-4 with the dual-clutch to make 161 horsepower.
We prefer the $24,420 N Line and its 18-inch alloy wheels with Pilot Sport 4 tires and an independent rear suspension, which is also on the Sport sedan. That dynamic suspension provides a more responsive ride.
2020 Hyundai Elantra
Comfort & Quality
The 2020 Hyundai Elantra is spacious but only impresses on top Limited trim or in the GT hatchback.
Compacts are the new mid-size sedans, and the 2020 Hyundai Elantra benefits from being roomy inside. The hatchback makes use of the space better, and would add a point to our 5 out of 10 rating.
The seating position and standard 6-way driver’s makes for a comfy ride with good outward vision. Most models feature textured cloth upholstery, while the Elantra Limited and Sport models get black leather that sharply balances the chrome trim pieces. The 8-way power driver’s seat in Elantra Limited is the comfiest of the bunch, while the Sport’s bucket seats hugs in the right curves, unless your curves are overflowing.
The rear seat is reasonably roomy, though inconsiderate teens riding shotgun might get some knees in the back from vengeful teens in the back seat. Rear legroom is 35.7 inches, which is above average, though the 2020 Nissan Sentra has nearly two inches more; the GT hatchback is tighter. Head room is good, and the flat rear bench seat with the 60/40 split folding seatback can fit three angular band dudes, at best.
Sedans have just 14.4 cubic feet of trunk space, but the hatchback’s tailgate opens to swallow an extra 10 cubes with the rear seats upright and a hefty 55 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat.
2020 Hyundai Elantra
Crash-test scores are mixed, but standard automatic emergency braking helps the 2020 Hyundai Elantra.
The biggest safety change to the 2020 Hyundai Elantra is automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and a driver-attention warning all come standard. What is less clear is why the two crash-testing authorities disagree on Elantra’s crashworthiness.
We give it a 6 here, with some explanation.
The Elantra sedans and Elantra GTs earned a 2019 Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, which is its highest honor, when equipped with LED projector lights standard on the Limited trim. The halogen lights on other models were rated at “Poor,” which disqualified those trim levels from the award, even though all Elantras earned “Good” ratings on all six crash tests. Since we don’t recommend the expensive Limited trim, the Elantra gets only one extra point for standard AEB. The NHTSA did not rate it as highly. The Elantra got a subpar four-star rating due to side barrier protection. The rear passenger on the left side had an increased risk of injury in the event of a side impact at about 40 mph.
2020 Hyundai Elantra
Only $5,000 separates a basic 2020 Hyundai Elantra from a well-equipped bargain.
Of all the choices for the 2020 Hyundai Elantra, you can be certain of getting a great value. Elantra comes as a compact sedan or GT hatchback, which is unchanged from 2019. So we’ll focus on the sedan, which comes in SE, SEL, Value, Eco, Sport, and Limited trims, with three engine choices and two transmission options. With more standard safety features, as well as dual climate control and a 3.5-inch digital vehicle info display standard, good use of interior space, and 60/40 split folding rear seats, the Elantra comes better equipped while still starting under $20,000.
We rate the Elantra at 6 out of 10, adding a point for overall value.
At $19,880 (including $920 destination), the 2020 Elantra in base SE trim just squeezes in under the $20,000 sweet spot. It comes with power doors and locks, six-way manual adjustable front seats, cloth seats, Bluetooth, remote keyless entry, a USB, and a tiny 5.0-inch touchscreen. It’s so basic that it’s recommended to spend just $750 more on the $20,620 SEL trim, which includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, the 7.0-inch touchscreen standard on the rest of the lineup, Sirius XM Radio (with subscription after the first 3 months), and voice recognition. It also has heated side mirrors, automatic headlights, and 16-inch alloy wheels over the 15-inchers on SE.
As far as value goes, it doesn’t get much better in the segment than the SEL, which we recommend before the relatively large price jump into the misnomered Value trim.
The Elantra Value Edition is $21,520, and adds approach lights that illuminate when the key fob is near, a sunroof, one-touch driver’s window, heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Those heated seats are tempting, but without a heated steering wheel option, we’d rather use that $900 on a great big puffy winter coat and some good whiskey. Or coffee. Or all of the above.
The $22,170 Eco trim is all about the smaller 1.4-liter turbo-4 with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission, which provides 1 mpg more combined to 33/41/36. That small of a difference in fuel economy could be made up by being a more efficient driver, so the $650 upcharge isn’t worth the second USB port and the LED daytime running lights.
The Sport trim is the only model to get the 201-hp 1.6-liter turbo-4 with an independent rear suspension for $23,720. That alone might be worth the $1,550 step over the Eco, and it adds 18-inch alloys, sleeker front and rear ends, tighter seats, and a flat-bottomed steering wheel. Still, we’d opt for the GT hatchback starting at $21,570.
The $24,720 Limited trim has it all, but at this point there’s not much more to add. Leather upholstery, an 8-way power driver’s seat, an Infinity sound system, safer LED headlights and taillights, some more chrome trim pieces, and 17-inch alloy wheels. A $3,350 Ultimate Package for Limited destroys all value considerations, but adds adaptive cruise control, and an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation. Stick to CarPlay.
2020 Hyundai Elantra
The 2020 Hyundai Elantra gets a 2-mpg boost over last year’s model, thanks to the CVT.
The CVT that replaces the 6-speed automatic in the 2.0-liter inline-4 boosts the 2020 Elantra by 2 mpg combined, to an average of 30 mpg city, 40 highway, 34 combined in SEL, Value Edition, and Limited models, while the base SE gets 31/41/35 mpg.
While those figures are just off those posted by the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla sedans, the Elantra’s fuel economy is above average, earning a 6 out of 10 rating.
The Eco model with the 1.4-liter inline-4 is the most efficient at 33/41/36 mpg, and matches the Civic and Corolla at 36 mpg combined. If fuel efficiency is your primary concern, check out the 2020 Corolla Hybrid at 52 mpg combined.
The sporty Elantra GT hatchback with a 6-speed automatic instead of the CVT carries up the fuel economy rear at 25/27/32 mpg. The 6-speed manual and its lagging fuel economy is not offered for 2020.