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All-New 2017 Hyundai Elantra Offers Midsize Comfort, Compact Price

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Muhammad Ali, arguably the greatest heavyweight boxing champion of all time, had a way with words that rivaled his brilliant footwork and lightning-fast hands. The phrase would morph into “Float like a Cadillac, sting line a Beemer” in the Pixar film, “Cars,” introducing boxing’s legendary showman to a whole new generation. Interestingly, the film’s allusion to the quote offers valuable insight into today’s auto industry, where vehicles like the redesigned Hyundai Elantra are often required to be a jack-of-all-trades instead of a one-trick pony.

The all-new 2017 Hyundai Elantra provides the fuel economy of a subcompact car, the interior volume of a midsize sedan, the performance of a conservative sports sedan and the price tag of a compact car. When optioned out, the redesigned Elantra also comes close to offering the luxury of a premium sedan. There’s also a lower starting price, as the all-new Elantra starts off at $100 less than the 2016 model.

Before you rush out and drop your hard-earned cash on the all-new Elantra, I should acknowledge that the same jack-of-all-trades label can be placed on the all-new 2016 Honda Civic. The new Civic is absolutely brilliant and the most recent recipient of the North American Car of the Year award. That doesn’t mean the 2017 Elantra isn’t special, it only proves that the current compact segment is red hot.

Starting at $17,150 (excluding an $835 destination charge), the 2017 Elantra includes a host of standard features and some new options that have trickled down from the loftier Hyundai Genesis sedan. The new exterior styling is decidedly contemporary, with a smooth swooping line that rides from the hexagonal grille over the windshield and rolls off the rear bumper in coupelike fashion.

Reimagined Interior and Exterior

While not overly dramatic, the 2017 Elantra certainly makes a clean and concise style statement. The available HID headlights and vertical LED daytime running lights give the inexpensive sedan an upscale flavor. When seen at night it is difficult to immediately discern that the Elantra isn’t a far more expensive compact luxury sedan.

2017 Hyundai Elantra (CARFAX, Inc.)
2017 Hyundai Elantra (CARFAX, Inc.)

The theme continues inside the cabin where an intuitive and driver-oriented design keeps everything well within arms-reach and easy to use. I have been a fan of the technology-packed Hyundai lineup for a couple years now, and the all-new Elantra does not disappoint. When you consider that the Elantra can be equipped with an optional Infinity audio system that rivals many premium brand offerings, it starts to become a little fuzzy where the compact segment expectations really end. On top of that, many of the available active safety technologies were once only available on high-end luxury vehicles.

While not quite a luxury sedan, the Elantra has plenty of soft-touch materials where you are likely to feel them. Meanwhile, the hard plastic surfaces are disguised well enough that you have to lay a hand on them to know for certain. The seats are comfortable and well bolstered, and the second row offers plenty of room for two adults or three children. In all, the 110.2 cubic feet of interior volume set the Elantra in the EPA’s “midsize” classification. It’s comparable to the space offered by the 2016 Toyota Corolla and considerably more than you’ll find in the Ford Focus and Mazda3. The aforementioned 2016 Civic is notably more spacious, with 112.9 cubic feet of total interior volume and 15.1 cubic feet of cargo space. Still, the Elantra has an impressive 14.4 cubic feet of trunk space.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Performance

I was able to spend quite a few hours driving the 2017 Hyundai Elantra through the back roads of Southern California, encountering an almost ridiculous series of twists, turns and elevation changes along the way. Throughout the ride I was continually impressed with its composure and willingness to please. Although I stayed within the legal speed limits and never really pushed the Elantra more than I would if my own family members were onboard, the compact car took everything that I threw at it and I am convinced that the suspension, steering and brakes could handle far more than the 147 horsepower that the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is capable of dishing out.

2017 Hyundai Elantra (CARFAX, Inc.)
2017 Hyundai Elantra (CARFAX, Inc.)

Hyundai was brilliant in plotting out the test drive route. Straight-line acceleration is tepid, especially with three adults in the car. However, the Elantra does quite well cruising at highway speeds and while the electric power steering feels a little dull, it is dialed in nicely for the majority of Elantra owners who will rarely wring the engine out on a twisting canyon road.

Fuel economy is rated up to 29 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, which is right in line with the segment and a touch better than the outgoing model’s estimates.  An Elantra Eco that features a new turbocharged 1.4-liter engine will also be available this spring. Hyundai claims that model should be capable of about 35 mpg combined.

Hyundai Elantra Options and Prices

At launch, the 2017 Hyundai Elantra is available in a base SE and Limited trims. The Elantra SE with a six-speed manual is the budget pick of the group with a starting price of $17,150. My personal preference would be the SE model with the six-speed automatic and the $800 Popular Equipment package, which brings the price to $18,950. The upgrade includes just about everything that you would need in a compact sedan, including a 7-inch touch-screen display, Bluetooth, integration with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a rearview camera, automatic headlights, alloy wheels and cruise control.

2017 Hyundai Elantra (CARFAX, Inc.)
2017 Hyundai Elantra (CARFAX, Inc.)

The available SE A/T Tech package includes blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, heated front seats, and quite a few other comfort and convenience items that certainly warrant the $1,300 price tag, but may not be necessary for everyone.

Starting at $23,350, the Elantra Limited picks up where the loaded up SE leaves off and adds larger alloy wheels, leather seats, LED taillights and dual USB charge ports. The $2,500 Limited Tech package adds an 8-inch touch-screen navigation system, as well as and an Infinity premium audio system that has a segment-first Clari-Fi music restoration algorithm. Clari-Fi cleans up digital audio files for a more immersive listening experience and is much more than a gimmick. I sat in an Elantra and listened to the before and after effects and was blown away by the difference.

If there is any catch to the Elantra’s pricing scheme, it is that you need to purchase the Limited and then add the $1,900 Ultimate package to get driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection systems. I’m sure it is just a matter of time, but my wish is that safety systems weren’t reserved for the top-trim buyers. Everyone deserves the extra safety and security, regardless of whether they require a massive navigation system and leather seats. My guess is that the systems will become standard equipment across all vehicles eventually, but that is probably a long way off.

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