Positioned between the small Accent and mid-size Sonata, the compact 2019 Hyundai Elantra comes in both sedan and less-popular GT hatchback form.
For the new model year, the Elantra sedan receives a mid-cycle freshening. Within the new front end, sharp headlights reach into the grille. New front fenders encompass the curvy hood. Interior revisions include a new instrument cluster. Active-safety technology, including automatic emergency braking and active lane control, is now standard on all sedans except the base SE.
GT hatchbacks carry on for 2019 with their “jelly bean” profile. The two body styles differ significantly.
Elantra sedans come in SE, SEL, Value Edition, Limited, Eco, and Sport trim levels. GT hatchbacks are offered only in base and N Line trim. Compared to sedans, they feature larger wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, and upgraded brakes.
Most sedans use a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at a relatively mild 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. The Eco edition uses a 1.4-liter turbo-4 that makes 128 horsepower and 156 pound-feet. Sport models upgrade to a 1.6-liter turbo-4 that generates 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet, which promises considerably greater verve.
In SE and Sport sedans, a 6-speed manual transmission is standard. A 6-speed automatic is optional in those models, but standard in SEL, Limited, and Value Edition. The Eco version uses a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, which is optional â€“ in retuned form â€“ for Sport trim.
GT hatchbacks get a 161-horsepower version of the 2.0-liter inline-4, with 6-speed automatic. In the GT’s N Line edition, the 201-horsepower, 1.6-liter turbo-4 can have a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Every Elantra has front-wheel drive.
All sedans except the base SE now include active-safety technology, led by frontal-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking and active lane control.
The IIHS named the 2019 Elantra a Top Safety Pick+, if equipped with automatic braking and automatic high-beam headlights. The NHTSA gave the 2019 Elantra four stars overall, and noted its rear door panels intruded more in the side-impact test.
Prices do not include $920 destination charge.
SE 2.0 ($17,200 with manual, $18,200 with automatic) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, keyless entry, tilt/telescopic steering column, a 5.0-inch audio-system display, Bluetooth, and 15-inch steel wheels.
SEL 2.0 automatic ($19,500) adds a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, plus 16-inch alloy wheels. Active-safety features include forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control.
Value Edition 2.0 automatic ($20,500) adds dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless start, heated front seats, and a sunroof.
Eco 1.4T DCT ($21,050) has an efficiency-oriented 1.4-liter engine and dual-clutch transmission. Equipment is similar to the SEL, with 15-inch alloy wheels.
Sport 1.6T ($22,600 with manual, $23,700 with dual-clutch automatic) benefits from a more sophisticated rear suspension and includes a 1.6-liter turbo-4, LED headlights, alloy pedals, sport-tuned suspension/steering, and 18-inch wheels.
Limited 2.0 automatic ($22,700) includes LED headlights, leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, wireless smartphone charging, heated front seats, 17-inch wheels, and Infinity 8-speaker audio.
A $3,350 Ultimate Package for Limited brings pedestrian detection for the automatic emergency braking system, a sunroof, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, and adaptive cruise control.
GT Hatchback 2.0 automatic ($20,450) includes cloth upholstery, 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, remote keyless entry, and 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
GT Hatchback N Line 1.6 ($23,300 with manual, $24,400 with dual-clutch automatic) comes with the 1.6-liter turbo engine, adding 18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic temperature control, heated front seats, leather seating surfaces, alloy pedals, paddle shifters, and keyless ignition.
A $3,850 Tech Package for N Line adds active-safety features and navigation.
Freshly facelifted, the Elantra has turned into a standout in the compact-sedan category. Bold headlights reach deeply into the grille. The hood curves gracefully, while the beltline stretches into the rear roof pillar.
Eco, Limited, and Sport versions feature LED running lights. When unlit, they appear as a mirrored surface.
Visually, the GT Hatchback is more a Euro-hatch lookalike. Its headlights are far removed from the low, wide grille.
Elantra sedans and hatchbacks share some interior shapes, but they differ considerably. GT interiors benefit from a cleaner, more spare look. The sedan is spacious for a compact, with a clean, well-organized cabin, but looks a bit more busy.
GT hatchbacks offer good space for four adults. Sedans are a bit better able to handle five.
Front seats are about right for a compact. Most models feature grippy cloth seat upholstery. The Elantra Limited substitutes satisfying leather. Elantra Sport front seats grip tighter and provide deeper bolstering, delivering excellent support.
Rear-seat sedan riders get 35.7 inches of legroom. Hatchbacks offer a little less. The sedan’s back bench is flat. Taller riders can expect good head clearance.
Sedans show a few thrifty-looking details, while hatchbacks are fitted with nicer materials. Relatively narrow roof pillars permit good outward vision in either.
Sedan touchscreens integrate well with the lineup of buttons below, and clearly arranged climate controls employ toggle-style switches. Floating GT touchscreens sit high, flanked by buttons and knobs.
Sedan trunks hold just 14.4 cubic feet of cargo. Hatchbacks allow an additional 10 cubic feet, when rear seatbacks are upright. Space grows to 55 cubic feet with seatbacks folded flat.
Most Elantras rate around average for roadgoing satisfaction â€“ though the Elantra Sport can be stimulating. Each exhibits an overall sense of composure.
Elantra GTs reflect the European tradition of sharp, tenacious handling, coupled with a firm but absorbent ride. Most sedans have lighter steering, easy handling, and a softer ride. A stiff structure helps the Elantra cope with potholes.
The base engine is reasonably refined, but Hyundai’s 6-speed automatic transmission tends to upshift prematurely. Strong stabs at the gas pedal are needed to extract peak response. GT hatchbacks provide better passing power.
With just 128 horsepower, the Eco edition isn’t as brisk as its turbo engine might suggest, and it doesn’t shift as smoothly as other versions.
Fuel economy is closer to average than class-leading. Sedans with automatic and the 2.0-liter engine are PA-rated at 28/37 mpg City/Highway, or 32 mpg Combined. Manual shift lowers the estimate to 26/36/29 mpg. The Elantra Eco manages 32/40 mpg City/Highway, or 35 mpg Combined.
The 1.6-liter turbo with automatic is EPA-rated at 26/33 mpg City/Highway, or 29 mpg Combined. Manual shift is substantially less frugal, at 22/30/25 mpg.
With manual shift, the turbo GT hatchback is EPA-rated at 23/30 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined, rising to 25/32/28 mpg with automatic.
An edgy new look for 2019 should help the Elantra sedan stand out among compact cars. Elantras provide good value, but the base SE sedan still lacks the latest safety technology. GT hatchbacks have better handling but tighter accommodations to match their sporty looks.
Driving impressions by Andrew Ganz, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.