he Hyundai Elantra remains one of the best choices in the compact segment, combining unique design and practicality in a fuel-efficient package. Elantra comes in three basic body styles: four-door sedan, two-door coupe, hatchback GT.
Refreshed for 2014, the Elantra lineup debuts redesigned front and rear styling, interior changes and a new Sport trim level for the sedan.
Elantra Sport gets an all-new 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine good for 173 horsepower (25 hp more than the previous generation 1.8-liter model) and 154 pound-feet of torque, along with retuned steering and stiffer suspension. Standard features on the Elantra Sport include 17-inch alloy wheels, aluminum pedals, projector headlights and LED tail lamps.
Elantra LE and Elantra Limited are powered by a 1.8-liter inline-4 that makes 145 horsepower.
Elantra Coupe and GT models are also powered by the new 2.0-liter engine. Coupes get sport-tuned steering, a new rear spoiler and a standard blackout front grille. One well-equipped trim level now replaces last year’s two trim level choices. GT models now come with optional LED taillights. As before, Elantra GT offers three selectable steering modes, which offer heavier or lighter steering feel depending on preference.
We have found all the Elantra variants enjoyable to drive. The Elantra sedan’s smooth ride and responsive handling make for a plush, but not numb, driving experience. Elantra Coupe and Elantra GT models feel more connected to the road, without sacrificing road-trip comfort. We drove an Elantra Sport and found the new 2.0-liter engine had plenty of power and pull, even while climbing up steep mountain ranges at highway speeds. However, the stiffer suspension made for some fatigue after a long road trip on less-than-smooth surfaces, and we found the new engine’s direct injection quite noisy at idle and at slower speeds.
Elantra SE ($17,250) is powered by a 1.8-liter inline-4 and a choice of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include manually operated air conditioning, cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, six-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio capability and iPod/USB port; 60/40-split folding rear seat, power windows, locks and heated mirrors, trip computer, and 15-inch alloy wheels. An optional Popular Equipment Package adds a 4.3-inch touch screen, Bluetooth phone integration with voice activation, minor interior enhancements and additional lighting, automatic headlights, fog lights, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
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