Hyundai may have been selling Elantras for 25 years now, but the outgoing model has been an unequivocal hit for the company. That means the all-new 2017 Hyundai Elantra has the unenviable task of somehow besting its predecessor.
The new 2017 Elantra looks familiar because it is familiar. A careful refinement of the overall shape also makes it look like a lot of other recent Hyundai models. But in photos and on the floor of the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, it also looks a lot like a sharper version of the previous Elantra, like it’s gained some nicely fitted clothes.
Length and width are up slightly for the new car, but it sits on the same wheelbase and is the same height, which means current Elantra owners should feel at home. While Hyundai points out the 2017 Elantra has noticeably more passenger space than premium rivals like the Acura ILX and Audi A4, it admits to the car being smaller inside than more direct rivals like Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Mazda3.
The 2017 Elantra’s issue inside is not a space-related one. While everything feels assembled correctly, it isn’t very plush. Still, it’s a marked upgrade over the old car, and the company says the car has a new, more rigid structure to better isolate noise and help suppress intrusions from the road, which are enhancements that should make it a more comfortable long-distance runner.
And inside, the whole design has been refined as much as it has outside. Features like satellite radio and a USB port are standard, while an available 7-inch touch screen with a backup camera can control audio and vehicle functions. An 8-inch touch-screen navigation system is also available. All of that is expected to be as easy to use as it has been on other recent Hyundai models. Safety technology now includes available automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist and blind-spot monitoring. These are all-new features for the Elantra, but not new for many of its rivals. Hyundai is simply keeping up with the compact-class Joneses here.
There’s news on the engine front, and that alone could sway current Elantra fans into the new one. Both base SE and upscale Limited models get a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 147 horsepower and either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. Closely following these models will be an Elantra Eco with a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which Hyundai says will provide a combined fuel economy estimate of 35 mpg.
The 2017 Elantra isn’t groundbreaking by any means because it doesn’t need to be. On the surface and throughout the specifications sheets, the Elantra is what people want and need.
Still, there’s that pesky 2016 Honda Civic to consider when the new Elantra goes on sale in January.