- Sleeker shape
- More rear leg room
- Great available tech
- Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Hybrid powertrain
- Entry and exit are questions
- Top trims could be pricey
- Power specs don’t hint at sportiness, yet
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra compact sedan is hardly small anymore: It has big style, big available tech, and big range from a hybrid powertrain.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra compact sedan goes longer in nearly every way: it casts a longer shadow compared to the outgoing sedan, it travels longer on a tank of fuel, it has a longer infotainment screen, and comes with a longer list of options.
The only thing that’s shorter? Shoppers’ attention to small cars.
Not much about the 2021 Elantra is small anymore. The updated sedan, which raided the bigger Sonata’s closet for some of its new digs, is longer, lower, and wider than the model it replaces and has more space inside for passengers. Its historic value may be enough to get buyers’ attention.
Hyundai hasn’t yet said how much it will cost when the Elantra goes on sale in late 2020, although it’s likely to hover around $20,000 for base models, including destination. The 2021 Elantra will be available in SE, SEL, and Limited trims. An Elantra Hybrid, which is new for Hyundai’s compact sedan range, will be available too, although Hyundai isn’t talking about the price for that either. The automaker is also mum on whether the Elantra GT will return for now. Stay tuned.
Style and performance
The 2021 Elantra borrows its sleek profile and longer hood from the Sonata sedan that was overhauled for 2020. The Elantra’s front bumper is closer to the front wheels, but the cowl has been pushed back by about 2 inches, which makes the low hood look longer.
Along the sides, the Elantra’s deep creases mimic the diamond shapes found in other places on the car including the grille. The low roofline is about an inch lower than the outgoing version, although Hyundai says head room isn’t compromised for passenger comfort.
Around back, the space between the rear wheels and rear bumper is longer than the outgoing model, and the low trunk is punctuated by a wide, thin strip that spans the trunk.
Inside, the wide dash and console are canted toward the driver, with grab handles in the front passenger seat that hint at a sportier Elantra.
The first powertrains detailed by Hyundai don’t necessarily deliver on that sporty innuendo, however. Most Elantras will be powered by a 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 147 horsepower and drives the front wheels only via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). That CVT simulates stepped gears like a conventional automatic transmission but will help the Elantra deliver 35 mpg combined or better on the EPA cycle, according to Hyundai.
The new Elantra Hybrid relies on a 1.6-liter inline-4 and an electric motor to make 139 hp and drive the front wheels via a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Hyundai says the electric motor is powered by a 1.3-kwh lithium-ion battery and can travel short distances on electricity alone at low speeds. The combination should return more than 50 mpg combined, according to Hyundai, which rivals its other hybrid-powered small car, the Hyundai Ioniq.
The Elantra rides on 15-, 16-, or 17-inch wheels, while the Elantra Hybrid promises 16-inch wheels.
Comfort, safety, and features
The new Elantra is more than 2 inches longer, 1 inch wider, and about 1 inch lower than the 2020 sedan that it replaces. Between the wheels, the 2021 Elantra spans more than 107 inches, which is about 1 inch longer than before.
Rear-seat riders get 38 inches of leg room in the Elantra, which is comparable to many sedans that are a size up from the compact Hyundai.
Hyundai says head room isn’t compromised by the Elantra’s sleeker profile, which may mean a lower seating position than before. May we suggest more yoga before the car arrives later this year?
There are 14.2 cubic feet of storage space in the trunk, which is similar to the current model’s 14.4 cubic feet. The Elantra GT was tops for versatility in the Elantra range, although we haven’t heard a word about that version in 2021.
Hyundai said the Elantra’s new structure should perform well in a crash, although official data is a ways off.
Every sedan is equipped with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, and automatic high beams. Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and rear automatic emergency braking are available options.
Twin 10.3-inch screens that handle driver information and infotainment separately are available, but many more Elantras will be equipped with an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and Bluetooth connectivity. A new voice-recognition system will understand natural commands, according to Hyundai, such as “Turn on the air conditioner,” and will also connect to the internet to answer questions such as “What’s the temperature in Columbus, Ohio?”
Hyundai hasn’t yet detailed what standard equipment will be included in the Elantra beyond an 8.0-inch touchscreen, but we suspect cloth upholstery, power features, adjustable seats, and climate control are on the menu.
A wireless smartphone charger, interior ambient lighting, premium audio by Bose, and navigation are confirmed for the options list, however.
Like the Sonata, the Elantra also will offer a smartphone-based key that can unlock and start the car without a physical key.