First Look: 2011 Hyundai Elantra

First Look

The upcoming small-car war is speeding up faster than arrest warrants for Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame. Both domestic and foreign automakers are preparing their best for the predicted onslaught of car buyers looking for something that's both eco-friendly and sporty. No easy task. With the Chevrolet Cruze just hitting the streets and the 2012 Ford Focus going on sale this spring, Hyundai has launched their all-new Elantra sport compact to much acclaim and expectations.

Oh yes, the next generation Honda Civic will be joining the foray shortly as well. To start with, the 2011 Hyundai Elantra is, for lack of a better word, outstanding. It accomplishes everything the automaker intended it to do. More importantly, it's the best compact currently on the market. Here's why: Unlike previous Hyundai models and compact cars in general, the new Elantra greatly benefits from the new "fluidic sculpture" design language, no longer an utter embarrassment to be seen driving it or having it parked on your driveway.

You Might Also Like
Why Mercedes-Benz Needs To Make Smart The Next MINI
Why Mercedes-Benz Needs To Make Smart The Next MINI
10 Of The Craziest Japanese Concepts Ever Made
10 Of The Craziest Japanese Concepts Ever Made

In fact, the Elantra looks better, in our opinion, than the larger Sonata and may even have the best design for its class. To make things easier on everyone, the Elantra is available in seven configurations and only two trim packages: GLS and Limited. The lower-end GLS trim comes standard with quality cloth seats, a two-tone dash composed of soft-touch materials, and an overall flowing console design that takes design cues from the exterior. Translation: it's not for everybody, but certainly an improvement over what Hyundai previously offered.

The Limited trim comes standard with a seven-inch touch-screen with navigation, audio, and iPod integration controls. There's also XM NavTraffic and NavWeather systems that allow drivers to be updated with everything from traffic updates to stock market reports. A 360-watt, six-speaker stereo system with an external amp also comes in Limited trim as well as a rear-view camera, though hardly needed due to the car's solid rear visibility. Unlike the GLS trim, the Limited comes with double-stitched leather seating - something not typically seen in compacts.

For both trims, the controls are well-placed and feel much more substantial than one would imagine. I'm talking about Toyota-like quality throughout. There's even a three-layer door system and plenty of insulating foam in place to keep out wind and road noise. It's difficult to imagine the next generation Civic topping this. Perhaps the most significant attack weapon of the Elantra is its ability to out-flank the competition in fuel mileage. Regardless of which trim one buys, the Elantra has a drivetrain that returns 27 mpg city and 40 mpg highway.

Powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 148 hp and 131 lb-ft of torque, it's mated to either a six-speed automatic or manual transmission. Not only does it earn ULEV (Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle) status, but the engine has more power and fuel efficiency than the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, and even the Mazda 3. However, Hyundai isn't trying to make the new Elantra into the next fan boy racer, but rather an all-around solid piece of reliable transportation in every relevant category. On sale since the beginning of December 2010, the 2011 Elantra has a base price of $14,830.

Upgrade the GLS with the automatic and 16-inch alloys along with what Hyundai calls the "Popular Package" that includes A/C, cruise control, and power everything, expect to pay just over $17,000. As the hype for hybrids seems never ending, it's nice to see Hyundai prove that gasoline engines are still capable of providing excellent fuel numbers along with a real driving experience (read: not a Toyota Prius). More importantly, the new Elantra unleashes the dogs of war against the current competition and is the hands-down winner.

Fake Lamborghini Murcielago SV Reverse-Engineered By Iran

The Chinese couldn’t have done it better.

Hennessey Trackhawk Is World's Quickest SUV

That's what a thousand horsepower will do for ya.

5 Things You Need To Know About The 2019 BMW X5

After driving the car for the first time, here are our key takeaways.

Watch The BMW M2 Competition Lap The Ring In 7:52

That was supercar territory not long ago.

Kim Jong-un Gets Classy With New Ride

So much for sanctions.

Drifting A 1,000-HP Corvette On Mountain Roads Takes Some Serious Skill

Thought drifting the entire Nurburgring was challenging? Try it in a 1,000-hp Corvette on a mountain road with no safety rails.

Hennessey Heritage Edition Ford Truck Makes More Power Than Anything You’ve Got

This crazy beast is even more powerful than the Ford GT.

Ford Imagines A Future With No Traffic Lights

Stopping at junctions could be a thing of the past in the future.

One-Off Ferrari 330GT Speciale Is A 50-Year-Old Dream Come True

This stunning coachbuilding project is a tribute to legendary Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti.

What's Hot

Related Cars

Starting MSRP

Related Reviews

2018 Hyundai Elantra Sport First Look Review: Taking A Stab Right At The VW GLI
First Look
2018 Hyundai Elantra Sport First Look Review: Taking A Stab Right At The VW GLI
2017 Hyundai Elantra Review
Hyundai Elantra Sedan
2017 Hyundai Elantra Review
2018 Hyundai Elantra Review
Model Overview
2018 Hyundai Elantra Review