Recently we at The Korean Car blog were invited out to San Diego, Ca to check out the all-new 2017 Hyundai Elantra. Mostly redesigned, we were eager to see what Hyundai brought to the ultra-competitive compact car segment especially at the heels of other recent small car releases from the likes of Toyota, Mazda and most recently from Honda and their new Civic. While we only got to spend a day with the Elantra we were able to check out some of the newest features and enhancements that will most likely make the Elantra a serious contender to any buyer in the compact car segment.
[ads id=”0″ style=”float:left;padding:9px;”]The previous Elantra generation had an edgy award winning exterior design that definitely separated itself from others in this segment. In a way it broke the mold of what a compact car should look like. The new generation doesn’t stray far from that mold albeit having toned down the sharp edges. Our guess is that it will attract an audience that is somewhat matured and not necessarily looking to make a fashion statement. It is still a very attractive car, one that I can see lasting well beyond the 5-6 years that Hyundai will get out of the design.
Figure 1 – Some of the best looking LED Taillights on a compact. Also available are HID head lights.
Figure 2-Front LED Fog lights. Hard to see but next to the lights there is a front wheel opening that aids in aerodynamics.
So what’s new in the 2017 Elantra? A lot actually. Hyundai made a point to show case the strides made in the manufacturing process of the all-new Elantra. There’s a large amount of high tensile steel that is being used compared to last years’ model. 53 percent compared to just 21 percent which helps create a stiffer body and chassis which equates to a stronger, quieter and lighter car. There are also larger amounts of special structural glue which also aids in strengthening the car which allows Hyundai to use thinner and lighter materials. All of these things directly helps with providing a better platform for the suspension pieces. This improves driving dynamics and increases the safety capabilities of the Elantra.
Figure 3 – Increased amount of high tensile strength steel which is both stronger and lighter.
Figure 4- Different colors show areas of different types of steel
Figure 5 – Christine Jew talking about the structural adhesives used in the Elantra
Figure 6 – Beam on the left is thicker and only uses spot welds but deforms more than the beam on the right which uses thinner metal with structural adhesives developed by Dow.
[ads id=”0″ style=”float:left;padding:9px;”]While the Elantra does grow wider and longer the wheel base stays the same. What doesn’t stay the same is the suspension. Redesigned and relocated mounting points for shock absorbers, larger bushings and ideal designed struts, springs and sway bars helped keep this car planted even during our short spirited driving sessions. Steering improvements include the standard Motor-Driven Power Steering (MDPS) which changes steering feel and effort depending on the driving condition or the driving mode you are in. When you put it all together it creates a safe and enjoyable driving experience. I would dare to say one of the best handling Elantra’s we’ve driven.
Figure 7 – Rear suspension improvements including new geometry and mounting points for an improved ride.
Hyundai also introduces two new engines in the Elantra. First a 2.0l MPI engine making 147hp and 132 lb-ft of torque mated to either a 6 speed manual or 6 speed automatic transmission. This engine will be rated at 29/38 city/hwy and 33 combine MPG. The second new engine will be a 1.4l GDI turbo engine making only 128HP but a respectable 156 ft-lb of torque available from 1400 – 3700 RPM. This engine will be mated to a 7-sp dual clutch transmission which shifts superbly and helps the Elantra achieve a wonderful 35MPG combined rating. This engine/transmission combo will come only to the Eco trim which will be available later this spring. If those engine options are too boring for you well don’t worry! The enthusiast side can wait a little longer for a Sport version of the Elantra that will come with a turbocharged engine. Sources say this new engine will make somewhere in the 200 horsepower range. It will also do away with the torsion beam rear suspension and come with a true independent rear suspension that should create a very sporty handling experience. All these things together could most likely put it on par with the higher end Civic Si and Volkswagen GTI models. We can’t wait!
Figure 8-New 2.0l MPI Engine
Technology, Safety and Luxury
Figure 9-CarPlay and Navigation
[ads id=”0″ style=”float:left;padding:9px;”]Hyundai has also integrated both Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto into the Elantra and helps make integrating your smartphone with your car as seamless as possible. With our iPhone we were able to easily and quickly access common apps such as Pandora, Spotify and Navigation on our phone via the touchscreen of the Elantra. Because of CarPlay the Elantra’s touchscreen and Siri integrated head-unit literally becomes an extension of your phone with easy access to common apps on the large touch screen. Super convenient while at the same time making you a safer driver by helping keep your eyes on the road.
Figure 10-Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist
Speaking of safety the Elantra has a good amount of features that will help earn it IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and NHTSA 5-star safety rating. Some features that normally are only found on luxury cars are now being put in compacts including segment exclusives like Pedestrian Detection technology. Using the cars radar and camera systems you first hear audible warnings on potential collisions (either with another car or person) and if you still don’t wake up from your nap the car will engage the brakes automatically for you. We admittedly used this feature accidently on our mini-day trip in the car and I can vouch personally that it works well (Check out how it works by watching this funny Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial featuring Ryan Renolds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ih4VYnbm6Sw).
Figure 11 – Christine talking about some of the advanced safety features on the Elantra
Additionally, other Elantra-first safety options include: Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist System, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist, and a rearview camera, now with dynamic guidance. This new generation of Elantra literally becomes one of the safest compacts on the road today.
[ads id=”0″ style=”float:left;padding:9px;”]Interior wise the Elantra has quite a few enhancements that give the car an upscale feel. For example the Elantra utilizes plenty of high quality soft touch materials and also comes with a splendid 4.2 inch instrument display which helps keep the driver focused. Interior room and put it in a mid-size car category and also comes available with front and rear heated seats. If you share your vehicles, the Elantra also comes available with memory system, another segment first, so you can quickly get into your optimal driving position. The new Elantra is also one of the quietest cars in the segment. Lots of engineering went into reducing vehicle noise, including improved sound insulation and thicker glass which helps keep the sounds out and improves the driving experience.
Figure 12 – Under hood sound insulation.
Interestingly, Hyundai also points out that interior volume outclasses the likes of premium makes like the Cadillac CTS, Audi A4 and Acura ILX. While the Elantra is not a premium sedan you get a nice balance of technology, safety and luxury that shows Hyundai really puts a lot of thought into making the Elantra a great overall vehicle.
Our time with the 2017 Hyundai Elantra was short but very fun and enlightening. In comparison to many of the other brands out on the market, Hyundai has positioned the Elantra very well and competitively. Base price of the Elantra is at $17,150 for the 6-speed manual SE and will top out at $26,750 for the fully loaded automatic Limited with the Tech Package. It may seem like a lot for a compact car but in reality you are getting a lot of car because of the technology, safety and luxury features.