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2021 Elantra Preview

Chris Kaiser

The compact sedan segment looks like it’s going to get a little more stylish. The 2021 Hyundai Elantra follows in the footsteps of the Palisade, a mix of affordability and upscale panache.

Putting the Civic and Corolla on Notice

Hyundai has been making waves lately. Their twin behemoths, the third row Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride, have raised the bar for what we can expect from our non-luxury SUVs. Indeed, Hyundai’s new 2021 Elantra has a new look and the tech to give stalwarts like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic a run for their money.

2021 Hyundai Elantra - hyundaiusa.com
2021 Hyundai Elantra - hyundaiusa.com

It’s a Head Turner

The new 2021 Elantra is a thoroughgoing revamp and that goes for the exterior most of all. The first thing you’ll notice about the 2021 Elantra is that it features a disproportionally large grille. Manufacturers appear to think that, similar to infotainment screens, the sheer magnitude of their grilles is a major selling point for their vehicle purchases. Hyundai refers to the styling as “bold” and “sensuous.” As skeptical as I am of the front end, the back end is indeed bold, in a good way. The sharp lines, the coupe-like slope to the roof, and a really slick light bar that stretches across the back from taillight to taillight are all visually compelling.

Inside, the lines are clean and the materials and finish refined, but overall the Elantra is a step below the sumptuousness of the Palisade. Overall, I liked the more subtle approach inside the Elantra as a nice counterpoint to its in-your-face exterior.

Prius Who?

The new Elantra is slightly larger than the prior generation, 2.2-inches in both length and width. It’s also 0.8-inches shorter, which, combined with those aggressive looking headlights, gives the new Elantra a much sportier demeanor.

Given Honda and Toyota have been expanding their hybrid offerings to include their sedan fleets, it shouldn’t surprise you that Hyundai is following suit with the new Elantra. The hybrid version will pair a 1.6-liter inline-4 and a 1.32 kWh battery pack to produce 139hp and 195lb.-ft of torque. Compare that to the standard 2.0-liter engine that provides 147hp and just 132lb-ft.

Top 10 New Cars Under $20,000

But more zip isn’t the biggest benefit. Hyundai says the new hybrid Elantra will get up to 50mpg combined. As an extra bonus, the hybrid will get a 6-speed dual clutch automatic rather than the CVT that comes on the standard version. Better gas mileage and more fun driving? Sign me up!

Bringin’ the Bling

There are echoes of Mercedes at work in the new Elantra (not what you expected to read here, huh?). These include the two 10.25-inch screens, one for the gauges and the other for infotainment shared between a single pane of glass and the 64-color palette for ambient lighting. (Another Germanic que is the grab handle on the passenger side of the center console, reminiscent of modern Porsches).

2021 Hyundai Elantra dash - hyundaiusa.com
2021 Hyundai Elantra dash - hyundaiusa.com

The Elantra will also have Hyundai’s digital key features. If you’re an Android user, you can enter and start your car with just a smart phone app. If you’re an iPhone user, you’re not completely left out in the cold. There’s also a digital pass key that just requires a touch on the door handle to open the car. That bias doesn’t extend to the infotainment system as both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will be available.

Do Upscale Moves Mean Moving Upscale In Price?

You can expect the 2021 Elantra to slot right in the midst of its predecessor and segment competitors, starting somewhere between $20,000 on the low end and just below $30,000 for the highest trim version.

The new 2021 Hyundai Elantra is still scheduled for a 2020 fall release.

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Chris Kaiser
Chris Kaiser

Chris’ greatest passions include topiary, spelunking, and pushing aging compact cars well past 200,000 miles on cross-country road trips. His taste in cars runs from the classic and esoteric to the deeply practical with an abiding affection for VW Things, old Studebakers, and all things hybrid-crossover.

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