Tom Crosby: 2017 Hyundai Elantra makeover gets jump on competitors

Automakers love to get a jumpstart for a new or revamped vehicle and Hyundai leaped ahead with its 2017 upgraded Elantra mid-size sedan when they started putting it in dealerships in January 2016.

Buyers will be impressed that the price is competitive with the 2016 Elantra but without all the option packages.

It has been Hyundai’s bestseller in the past and the second generation Elantra confronts the mid-size sedan competition with current safety technologies, a wallet-friendly price, excellent gas mileage and a compliant ride.

After 10 days and 1,600 miles, I found the five-passenger test drive Elantra Limited a family oriented vehicle comfortable in all seating positions and drive modes – eco, normal and sport.

The Limited is the top of three trims (there is a base SE with a manual transmission costing $5,200 less and a more gas-sipping Eco trim with no options available).

On our Elantra two major option packages increased utility and safety. One was the $2,500 Tech package, which included an 8-inch screen with navigation, 8-speaker premium audio, heated front and rear leather seats and Apple CarPlay link. The $1,900 Ultimate package, which comes only when the Tech package is added, includes a suite of safety features like emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and HID swiveling narrow headlights for illuminating curves.

Elantra has received top safety crash ratings in the past.

Hyundai’s iconic hexagonal grille is new on the Elantra and more subtle character lines create a slightly different but still good-looking sedan in a mostly bland-looking market niche. Slightly longer and wider, rear passenger space is bigger and comfortable for adults on longer trips and easily accessible for parents adjusting child safety seats. Rear seats fold easily to increase cargo space and the trunk contains a spare tire (last year it included a tire repair sealant kit) with the trunk lid popping up automatically when you are standing behind it for three seconds – great for when arms are full.

Handling was responsive and the ride silky smooth at higher speeds, although the six-speed transmission had occasional hiccups at lower speeds going in and out of adaptive cruise control. Interior materials are grained for a better feel and look, expansive dashboard controls are easily manipulatable and there are numerous knick-knack spaces such as a covered space under the dashboard for charging a cell-phone. Numerous voice commands keep eyes and hands on the wheel but some commands could not be accurately understood.

LIKE: Stylish look, mileage, price, space, quiet DISLIKE: Transmission, voice recognition
BOTTOM LINE: Perfect beginner car for family with top safety ratings

FACT FILE
2017 HYUNDAI ELANTRA LIMITED

Base price w/destination fee: $23,185 ($27,710 as tested)
Curb weight: 2,811-2,976 lbs.
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length: 179.9 inches
Width:70.9 inches
Engine specs (gas): 2.0-liter, 4 cylinder, DOHC w/CVVT
Horsepower: 147-hp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque: 132 lbs.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/SHIFTRONIC
EPA rating: 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway
Range: 14-gallon tank
Performance: 0-60 in roughly 8 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.

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