Aug 122017

How do you redesign one of your all time best-selling models? Hyundai chose to add new features and technology to the all-new 2017 Elantra while dropping the starting price by $100. Having attended the regional launch last year, I recently drove the Limited or top-of-the-line Elantra trim level in a week-long test, for Latino Traffic Report and was reminded of the value Hyundai continues to reflect in its lineup.

As the word implies, a redesign starts on the outside. Defined by Hyundai’s signature hexagonal grille, the new Elantra also has smoother contoured lines that enhance its aerodynamics. The redesign also includes equipment firsts like the available HID headlights with Dynamic Bending Lights, unique vertical LED daytime running lights, the LED door handle approach lights, and LED taillights.

The Elantra comes with two available powertrains, a 1.4-liter turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that’s reserved for the Eco trim level. The Limited and base model SE are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horses and 132 lbs.–ft. of torque. It’s matched to a six-speed automatic Shiftronic transmission with the Active ECO System on the Limited, which also includes Drive Mode Select that allows the driver to choose between a Sport, Eco, or Normal setting to further enhance its performance. I kept it in the Eco mode for most of the drive to conserve fuel. The Limited, with its 17-inch wheels, has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. I averaged 35 mpg during the test drive.

Stepping up to the Limited trim level brings many more advantages, particularly when it comes to safety features. Standard advanced safety features include a rearview camera, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist. Surprisingly, some premium brands still include a blind spot monitor on an optional package so I’m always happy to find this critical safety feature included as standard equipment. Still, I would like to see it available throughout the lineup but it’s not available on the base SE with a six-speed manual transmission, it comes with a blind spot mirror on the driver’s side instead.

The Limited is the only trim with leather seating throughout, the Blue Link Connected Car system and a three-month trial of Blue Link Connected Care. The Limited trim also includes heated front seats and offers heated rear seats not found among its competitors.

Segment firsts include premium features like s a hands-free Smart Trunk (standard on the Limited)—there’s no need to swipe a foot under the bumper, just approach with keys in your pocket and in a few seconds, the trunk will open.

For added convenience, the rear seat is split 60/40, folding forward for additional cargo volume. Classified as a midsize sedan by the EPA. The Elantra already offers class-above total interior volume with 110.2 cu. ft. Cargo volume in the trunk reaches 14.4 cu. ft.

The test model also added the Tech Package ($2,500) that included navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the Infinity Premium audio system, and the Ultimate Package ($1,900) with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian protection, Lane Keep Assist, and smart cruise control, among other features.

Pricing for the 2017 Elantra Limited starts at $23,185. The as-tested pricing came to $27,710.

Sí: The Elantra Limited offers great value with impressive standard features like the blind spot warning system.

No: Important safety technology should not be reserved for the top-of-the-line trim but should be available across the lineup.

Jul 072015

2015-06-17 11.37.35

On a recent test drive of the 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT for Latino Traffic Report, I was pleasantly reminded that cool technology and creature comforts on a vehicle aren’t reserved for luxury models.

The Elantra is just one step up from Hyundai’s most affordable model, the Accent and as a trim level, the Elantra GT five-door hatchback is one step up from the Elantra sedan. Refreshed for 2016, the Elantra GT sports a new grille and restyled 17-inch alloy wheels.

2015-06-17 11.40.18Upon entering the test model, I immediately noticed the panoramic sunroof. At this price point, that’s the kind of feature reserved for much more expensive models. It comes as part of the Tech Package ($3,950) that also includes leather seats, navigation, a rearview camera, dual-zone air conditioning that includes a CleanAir Ionizer, and the Hyundai Blue Link telematics system, among other features.

While heated seats are standard, the test model also had ventilated (cooled) seats, another unexpected feature, constituting a segment first. Not without gadgets, the Elantra GT also included a cooled glove compartment.

Offering the versatility of a hatchback with 51 cubic feet of cargo room once the 60/40 split rear seats are folded flat, the GT is powered by the 2.0-liter gasoline direct injected four-cylinder engine. Producing 173 horsepower and 154 lb.–ft. of torque, it has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. I averaged 29.1 mpg. There’s also an Active Eco button to enhance fuel economy but once engaged, it does produce a noticeable engine lag.

2015-06-17 11.41.10While a six-speed manual is available, the test model came with a six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic simulated manual shifting.

Standard technology includes the Driver Selectable Steering Mode that allows drivers to choose among Sport, Comfort, and Normal modes to improve driving performance. Bluetooth, an AM/FM/SiriusXM Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system with six-speakers and iPod/USB/auxiliary input jacks, and remote keyless entry, are also standard.

SoundHound app IDs that tune, the artist, and CD, in seconds.

SoundHound app IDs that tune, the artist, and CD, in seconds.

One of my favorite new tech discoveries was the SoundHound app. Some audio systems can ID songs on the radio, but not for all stations, especially local independent ones, of which Austin has many. SoundHound can name any tune, even classical music! It’s a free app that you can also download onto your phone.

Stepping up to the GT also brings a blind spot mirror (instead of a monitor) on the driver’s side and steering wheel mounted stereo and cruise controls.

2015-06-17 11.38.36Some may put a premium on a car’s performance, but for the Latino car buyer, it’s all about bang for the buck. Hyundai’s made a habit of packaging vehicles with standard features that other brands consider optional.

Pricing for the Elantra GT starts at $19,625. The as-tested price came to $26,675.

Sí: Great packaging plus SoundHound app rocks!

No: The engine lacks punch and the rearview camera should be standard.