Possibly the new segment leader.
The all-new 2021 Hyundai Elantra could very well be the new compact sedan segment leader. Although it's still a little too soon to know for sure before official test drives begin, the new model appears to represent a significant leap forward for mainstream affordable sedans. The sedan segment as a whole may be slowing down but it's far from dead, and Hyundai is betting big on this.
The seventh-generation Elantra features extremely bold exterior styling. Making drastic design changes can be risky but we think Hyundai's decision will pay off. The interior is also a significant leap forward for the segment and, not surprisingly, it's packed with lots of standard features Hyundai has become known for.
Given the South Korean brand's long history of affordable pricing and high value in general, the new 2021 Elantra will undoubtedly push the competition to do even better.
One look at the new 2021 Elantra tells you Hyundai went all-out here. The Elantra's old reputation of being basic transportation is long behind it. Hyundai calls this new design language "Sensuous Sportiness" and it's been combined with a platform offering a longer wheelbase and a wider stance. Even the coupe-like roofline is lower than that of the outgoing model.
Up front, there's a slick jewel-pattern grille that also incorporates the turn signals. The rear end has what Hyundai describes as a high-tech "H-Tail Lamp" because it has a flying H logo-like shape. To further augment its coupe-like styling, there's a black strip in between the rear glass and trunk lid. Even the wheels, measuring in at either 15-,16-, or 17-inches, feature a bold design theme.
And then there's the side profile. The body surfacing is very angular. There's an edge running from front to rear as a triangular edge line meets at the front doors. Will it appeal to everyone? Perhaps not at first, but the overall exterior design certainly moves the segment as a whole forward.
You wouldn't be wrong to think the new Elantra's dashboard layout was inspired by a fighter jet. Hyundai even says there's inspiration everywhere with its "immersive cocoon" layout. There are slim vents, a passenger grab handle, and two screens measuring at 10.25-inches for the infotainment and driver's gauge cluster. In fact, the infotainment touchscreen is angled towards the driver for easier access - just the way BMW has been doing so for years. Another first for this segment: Hyundai will offer wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though neither will be standard.
Thanks to the car's bigger exterior dimensions, the interior benefits as well. There's now a lower seating position that creates greater passenger volume with increased legroom, headroom, and shoulder room. There's also an increase in overall cargo volume.
Under the hood lies a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. Power goes directly to the front wheels through an Intelligent Variable Transmission. This also happens to be the same drivetrain found on the Elantra's cousin, the latest Kia Forte. It is rated at 31/41 mpg city/highway, but Hyundai has not yet released official fuel economy figures. However, Hyundai does promise the new Elantra will be the best in its class.
As expected, Hyundai has given the 2021 Elantra a ton of standard safety features. These include forward collision-avoidance assist, lane keep assist, driver attention warning, and a rearview camera.
A few optional safety items include blind-spot collision avoidance, smart cruise control, highway driving assistant, and reverse parking collision avoidance. For now, the automaker's cool new Smart Park system is not offered although this could change going forward.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra will face some stiff competition from the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and even its corporate cousin, the Kia Forte. But because the Elantra is the newest entry in the compact sedan segment, it likely has the upper hand in terms of features, driving characteristics, and value for the money. However, there's no doubt both Honda and Toyota will quickly take notice and adapt accordingly.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but we don't expect the seventh-generation Elantra's price to greatly differ from the outgoing generation, which started at just below $20,000. Production will take place at the automaker's Ulsan, South Korea manufacturing plant. Sales are scheduled to get underway in the US in the fourth quarter of this year.