2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid review: Where style meets efficiency

You won’t confuse the redesigned Hyundai Elantra for any other sedan on the road today.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

As the old saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Whatever vitriol the person who coined this adage had against felines is unknown, but their logic holds true, especially if you’re trying to save money at the pump. There are tons of super-thrifty cars to choose from, and you don’t even have to get yourself a plug-in model or something fully electric. You could take a Toyota Corolla Hybrid or even the cheap Honda Intuition. And then there is the Prius, a household name and a proven artist. But have you considered the Hyundai Elantra Hybrid? If not, you definitely should.

Like it

  • Spacious and well done interior
  • Unexpectedly performing
  • Outstanding fuel efficiency
  • Distinctive style

I do not like

  • Occasional transmission noises
  • Eco-friendly tires are noisy
  • Distinctive style

In Blue trim, its most efficient form, this little sedan returns some huge fuel economy figures. Expect around 53 mpg in the city, 56 mpg on the highway, and 54 mpg combined. The higher-end Limited model I’m evaluating here, however, is 4mpg less efficient in each drive cycle. It sounds like a big hit, but in percentage it really isn’t, plus in real world driving I average around 48mpg, which is still phenomenal. These remarkable figures are strong enough to make the Elantra More stingy hybrid than some of its rivals, but penny-pinch thrift isn’t the only reason to consider one of these Hyundai’s.

What really sets this car apart from the package is its cutting edge design. With its intricate front that resembles a faceted gemstone to its creased flanks to that angular rump, this sedan has serious style. No, its looks won’t be for everyone, but the Elantra basically stands out from everything else on the road today. The only potential problem is longevity. This machine looks good right now, but I wonder if it will stay this attractive a few years down the road or age like unrefrigerated milk.

That gentle good looks carries right through to the interior of the Elantra, which is as refined as it is well-equipped. The technical-looking dashboard is angled slightly towards the driver, so more controls are within easy reach. Painted silver accents brighten up the interior, which might otherwise be a bit too harsh in black, although a gray color scheme is also available.

The dash of the car is built with attractive hard and soft plastics and the entire shebang looks more exclusive than one would normally expect from a vehicle in this class. Of course, there is some cost cutting, although none of these are striking. The sky is of uncertain quality and there are no air intakes or power outlets for the rear seat passengers. In addition, there is a strange applique to the left of the steering wheel, a circle in the shape of a gear with a line in the middle. If you were expecting this element to work, you will be very disappointed as it is purely decorative, even when lit Line N versions of Elantra this is where the driving mode button is located.

The interior of this car is as stylish as the exterior.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The front seats of the Elantra Hybrid are comfortable enough, plus they are heated and ventilated in the Limited model, but the rear accommodations are spectacular for a car of this size. There is a lot of leg room and there is almost as much head room. Plus, the cushions are well placed with a comfortably angled backrest and even a fold-down center armrest. This Hyundai’s cabin is airy and open, with 99.4 cubic feet of passenger volume, making it roomier than its sedan rivals. The trunk is also massive, clocking in at 14.2 cubes, a lowercase a little less than what Insight provides.

Two 10.3-inch screens are standard on Elantras with limited finishes. This includes a reconfigurable digital instrument cluster and a crisp touchscreen that houses an excellent infotainment system. Not only is it colorful and easy to use, this multimedia array is super responsive, hardly ever lagging or stuttering. Embedded navigation is also included here. Android Auto And Apple CarPlay they are standard across the Elantra range, although they require the use of a cable on Limited models. Curiously, the low-end examples support wireless mirroring of smartphones to their smaller 8-inch infotainment screen, something I’ve experienced in others. Hyundai And duck vehicles.

As for driving aids, the Elantra Hybrid comes standard with the usual suspects. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot assistance, rear cross traffic warning, lane keeping assistance and automatic high beam, among others, are all taken into account. The Limited package also includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality and Highway Drive Assist, which puts lane centering into the mix. All of these services work as advertised and are intuitive.

The Hyundai Elantra’s powertrain is smooth and super efficient, if not particularly muscular.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The Elantra Hybrid is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This motor is powered by an electric motor that brings 43 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque to the party, while a lithium-ion polymer battery pack serves as an electron reservoir. Total system power is a modest 139 horsepower, but the turnaround is most impressive at 195 lb-ft. Quiet and refined, this sedan accelerates better than you might expect after reading those numbers. No, it won’t set the world on fire, but it has a more than respectable scoot for everyday use, especially when you consider how cheap it is. The powertrain pony shortage is only really noticeable at highway speeds where you feel a little asthmatic. Switching to Sport driving mode from Normal or Smart livens things up a bit and stiffens the steering slightly.

By slowing down the roll, this car’s brakes are a little rubbery underfoot and the initial bite of regenerative deceleration is a bit abrupt, but otherwise the pedal feels good and the transition to friction braking is practically unnoticeable. Ride quality is on the stiff side, which is surprising considering the hybrid model is around 200 pounds heavier than a conventional Elantra Limited. Perhaps the engineers were trying to make the sports car look like it looks.

Do you like Elantra’s edgy design or is it too much?

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Underway, the interior is remarkably quiet, with the exception of the highly efficient Hankook Kinergy GT tires mounted on 17-inch wheels. Depending on the surface, they tend to sing, plus they also feel a little greasy when cornering, screaming with little provocation. The Elantra’s steering is smooth and precise, if otherwise insignificant. When Highway Drive Assist is activated, Lane Keeping Aid does a phenomenal job keeping the Elantra Hybrid between the lines. In fact, this setup works better than some systems offered in much more expensive luxury vehicles. The only real dynamic downside to this car is the drivetrain, which on very rare occasions can feel confusing. Usually, it’s super smooth and reasonably quick to shift, although not as quick as other dual-clutch transmissions.

An entry-level 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid starts at $ 24,555 including $ 1,005 in destination tax. That makes it about $ 3,700 more expensive than a standard 2022 Elantra sedan, an appreciable difference. The top-of-the-line Limited model reviewed here rolled off the assembly line in Ulsan, South Korea, priced at $ 29,260, which is exactly in line with an Insight Touring and, frankly, not unreasonable considering the average transaction of a new vehicle the price these days is around $ 41,000.

If maximizing fuel efficiency is as important to you as a stylish design, your wagon is waiting for you. The Elantra Hybrid can stretch a gallon of gasoline like the best of them and it looks a lot better while doing so.

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