BY Bob Gritzinger, Contributor | @bobgritzinger Before introducing the 2015…
Hyundai is standardizing features in the compact car segment that we’ve never witnessed before. The sheer amount of technology and traditionally luxury features found on the 2017 Elantra should make this sedan a no-brainer for those looking to the traditional small four-doors from Toyota, Nissan, Ford, and even perhaps Honda.
We spent the day driving the new Elantra and were grateful to have Hyundai President and CEO Dave Zuchowski in tow. Not only is Zuchowski a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the company he leads, but also he’s genuinely excited to talk to media about Hyundai’s current and future plans.
Among myriad questions and topics of conversation, we asked Hyundai’s head honcho about the importance of the Elantra for the brand, for whom car sales consist of roughly 77 percent of total transactions. Zuchowski admitted that with the all-new Elantra, Hyundai’s sights were set directly on Honda. The success of the overhauled Civic definitely played a part in motivating the Korean competition to pull out all the stops with the 2017 Elantra. And pull out all the stops they did.
For as long as we have been testing out Hyundai vehicles, we’ve always touted the company’s ability to bring the best bang for your buck with regards to design, comfort, features and technology. Going into the drive event held in San Diego, Calif., we already knew the Elantra would be a desirable competitor, but we couldn’t know just how worthy this newest iteration would be.
Hyundai defines “value proposition” with 2017 Elantra
If we listed out all of the features without naming the actual vehicle, you may think we were describing a luxury-brand vehicle priced above the $40,000 mark.
It is actually insane that Hyundai’s entry-level vehicle has been stacked with features such as: Lane Departure Assist that helps steer you back into your lane, an 8-speaker Infinity system with Clari-Fi™ technology that restores the original sound of the compressed digital music we listen to, an 8-inch touch screen that’s available even if you don’t opt for navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, three drive modes that actually feel different, a hands-free smart trunk, and cushy leather seats that are heated both in the front and the rear.
If you’re worried about how it drives, don’t. Thanks to 394 feet of structural adhesives provided by Dow Chemical and generous use of sound-dampening materials, this is the quietest, smoothest Elantra you’ve ever experienced.
Mountainous inclines, tight and twisting roads did not intimidate this small but mighty sedan. We felt completely confident navigating more adventurous terrain in the 2017 Elantra.
Did we mention that you can access this bundle of safety and technology features, paired with a modern design aesthetic starting at just $17,150? But these are only a fraction of what’s available on the 2017 Elantra, especially the Limited trim model we tested, which topped out at $27,710 before destination.
Features that #NewElantra Drivers will Love
- Dual charging USB ports (one in front, other in center console)
- Integrated memory system for the driver’s seat
- Auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink and Compass
- Heated front and rear seats
- Display audio with a 7” display or navigation with 8” screen
- Android Auto® and Apple CarPlay® support
- Next-generation BlueLink apps for smart phone and smart watch
- 8-Speaker Infinity premium audio system with Clari-Fi™
- Dynamic Bending HID lights and vertical Daytime Running Lights
- LED door approach lights, side LED turn lights and LED taillights
Don’t stop the insanity!
By lengthening the wheelbase just slightly, Hyundai could push the far corners of the Elantra’s interior, making it qualify as a mid-size sedan according to EPA standards.
With a total size of 110.2 cubic feet inside (14.4 of it in the trunk), the 2017 Elantra interior rivals that of the 2016 Cadillac CTS while exceeding the 2016 BMW 3 Series and 2016 Audi A4.
Remember how we told you Hyundai’s top exec was riding with us in the back seat? Well, he’s 6ft, 4-inches tall and rode comfortably in the 2017 Elantra with plenty of head- and legroom.
When shopping for compact sedans, the biggest gripe we have is that the person in the back seat must sacrifice the bottom half of their legs. It’s typically far worse than the smallest, most crowded airplane you’ve ever boarded.
With this new model, it’s as if Hyundai wrote down a list of all compact sedan buyers’ pain points and determined to check them all off the list when building the 2017 Elantra.
Safety Highlights on the 2017 Elantra
Hyundai expects its new Elantra to receive a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a 5-Star Safety Rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Safety technology features abound on the 2017 Elantra, such as:
- Lane Departure Warning – Alerts you if you’re drifting out of your lane without using a turn signal.
- Lane Keep Assist System – A feature debuted on the high-end Genesis, this will actually apply corrective steering if you do not immediately heed the LDW alert.
- Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection – Segment-first feature that detects pedestrians and works at speeds up to 50 mph.
- Smart Cruise Control – Allows the driver to set a comfortable distance from the car in front of it and controls cruising speed based upon that distance.
- Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert – Radar sensors in the rear bumper alert drivers of any cars or large objects approaching from the side when backing up.
- Lane Change Assist – Checks for oncoming traffic in adjacent lanes, visibly and audibly warning the driver if changing lanes is not safe at that time.
Overall, we’d have to say that the new Elantra is even more of a consideration for us in the small car market. It’s completely capable, functional (60/40 split rear seats), comfortable (they upgraded the seats!), and fuel efficient (EPA estimated 32 mpg combined).
You really can’t get a more affordable and more decked out small car — backed by a 10-year, 10,000 mile powertrain warranty — for the price point. All we’re saying is that if you’re looking for a new compact sedan that has plenty of space, gets great fuel economy, and is easy on the eyes, don’t overlook the 2017 Hyundai Elantra. Of course, if you’re cross-shopping the new Civic, you may have a tough decision on your hands. But it’s worth a look in our minds.