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2021 Hyundai Elantra: Looking Positively Different After 2020

Steven Mitchell

The 2021 Hyundai Elantra design is cutting edge inside and out. We find out if that’s enough to keep you in the market for a sedan.

What’s New for the 2021 Hyundai Elantra

A lot of us rolled into 2021 looking different, and so did the Hyundai Elantra. The 2021 Hyundai Elantra is a wider, longer, and lower version of its 2020 self. And we see a hint of Audi and Honda as we walk around the new design. Hyundai‘s Chief Designer, Luc Donckerwolke, once worked at the Volkswagen Group and was involved in the A2’s development, so maybe he’s been using that Audi design aesthetic.

These days, sedans aren’t exactly selling. And some manufacturers, like Ford for example, have pulled out of the sedan market entirely. Hyundai’s opinion is, “Hey, that means more shoppers for us!” So, they’ve made some major design and technological updates to their Elantra sedan.

2021 Hyundai Elantra - hyundainews.com

2021 Hyundai Elantra – hyundainews.com |  Shop 2021 Hyundai Elantra on Carsforsale.com

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $19,650

Drivetrain

Drivetrain

FWD

Drivetrain

Fuel Economy

33 City / 37 Hwy (MPG)

Number of Seats

Seating

Seats 5

The Breakdown

A nice trend-setting exterior

The ride and handling are nice

Some odd design choices inside

Interior materials are a let down

We want an all-wheel-drive option

2021 Hyundai Elantra Specs

Trims & Pricing

SE - $19,650
SEL - $20,900
N Line - $24,100
Limited - $25,450

2021 Hyundai Elantra Powertrain

2021 Hyundai Elantra I4 - hyundainews.com
2021 Hyundai Elantra I4 - hyundainews.com

Although most of Hyundai’s Elantra sales will come from the 147 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, a 201 horsepower 1.6-Liter is available in the N Line. Regardless of the engine, every current 2021 Elantra directs its power through the front wheels, and the N Line will get the option of a six-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The 2.0-liter gets Hyundai’s efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT). Although you wouldn’t expect too much performance from the base engine, it’s pretty quick with a timed 7.8 sec 0-60, and we feel that it’s more than capable of keeping up with its compact car competition.

We aren’t CVT fans, but Hyundai has done an excellent job making theirs feel like a standard automatic. Torque is quickly available for stoplight takeoffs and when passing and there’s less of that CVT rubber band feel. While on the freeway, the CVT can do its job silently and efficiently. It seems as if Hyundai has balanced performance and economy with the engine and the 2021 2.0-liter feels much better than last year’s version.

2021 Hyundai Elantra - hyundainews.com
2021 Hyundai Elantra - hyundainews.com

When you need to slow down, the Elantra will take 113 ft to stop from 60 mph. That no drama emergency stop is up near the best in its class. On the road and curves around SoCal, the chassis is solid, and the suspension feels more like a sports sedan than it should. You’ll love its sure-footed character and feel the steering keep you in tune with the road surface.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Fuel Economy & MPG

Hyundai has always provided fuel-efficient gas-powered engines and the 2021 Hyundai Elantra keeps the streak going. The EPA estimated 31 mpg city and 41 mpg highway puts it near the most efficient gas-powered compact sedans in its class.

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

The 2021 Hyundai Elantra’s dash reminded us, a little, of Mercedes’ recent dashboard efforts. It looks like there’s a large LED screen at first glance. Although that’s not the case, Hyundai still gets style and user interface points for what’s in front of the driver and passenger.

In the Elantra Limited, a 10.25-inch touchscreen is to the right above the console, and the dash flows into an attractive 10.25-inch digital instrument pod. A smaller 8.0-inch touchscreen is on the SE and SEL, which doesn’t fill up the space as well. We don’t understand why the lower-trim models get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and the Limited doesn’t. No one seems to have an answer other than, “they’re working on it.” Strange.

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2021 Hyundai Elantra - hyundaiusa.com
2021 Hyundai Elantra - hyundaiusa.com

We also don’t see the need for a large grab handle (it’s enormous) on the center console other than making the driver cockpit more closed in. You definitely aren’t going to do rally racing in this car, yet there it is. One more thing we notice is the lack of soft-touch plastics. In Toyota Corollas, the soft textures all around the cabin added a luxury feel to the Toyota, that’s missing here in the Elantra. We like the design of everything, but the hard plastics on the dash and door take away from that first impression. There’s work to do there.

The seats are very comfortable, and the leather upholstery is acceptable while the cloth feels high quality. The seat design is similar to what we have seen for Audi sport seats, although they didn’t have the same support. Still lovely, though. And whether you’re in the front or the rear, you have a lot of room. The Elantra feels more spacious than a Corolla or Civic.

Entertainment & Technology

2021 Hyundai Elantra - hyundainews.com
2021 Hyundai Elantra - hyundainews.com

Although the 2021 Hyundai Elantra SE is a capable car, you’ll need to be happy with manual AC and a couple of USB ports. If you could move up to the SEL, you’d have a keyless entry plus the desirable push-button start. The SEL also adds, two-zone automatic A/C, a six-speaker audio system, optional convenience and premium packages, plus the 10.25-inch infotainment screen.

Safety Features

Every Hyundai gets standard SafetySense features like Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist, High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning, and the rearview camera. You can also add Blind-Spot Assist with Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Assist, Smart Cruise Control, Highway Driving Assist, Safe Exit Warning, plus Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Trims & Pricing

2021 Hyundai Elantra SE - carsforsale.com
2021 Hyundai Elantra SE - carsforsale.com

SE – $19,850

The base SE trim rolls in on nice-looking 15-inch wheels powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. This year, Hyundai gives you standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay along with a 4-speaker audio system and Hyundai’s standard safety and driver-assist package.

2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL - carsforsale.com
2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL - carsforsale.com

SEL – $20,900

The SEL adds 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and BlueLink connected car services and app. Once inside, you also have dual temperature climate control and a sound system upgrade from four to six speakers.

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line - hyundaiusa.com
2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line - hyundaiusa.com

N LINE – $24,100

The 2021 Hyundai Elantra N adds the 201-horsepower version of a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine housed with a 6-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch 7-speed. The N Line also gets a fully independent rear suspension.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited - hyundaiusa.com
2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited - hyundaiusa.com

LIMITED – $25,450

The Limited makes the optional Elantra convenience and premium packages standard plus leather-trimmed seats, full safety assists, navigation, and LED headlights.

Warranties

Hyundai still calls their warranty “America’s Best Warranty.” It includes bumper-to-bumper coverage for five years/60,000 miles and powertrain coverage for ten years/100,000 miles. And every new 2021 Hyundai gets Hyundai Complimentary Maintenance for a generous three years or 36,000 miles.

What we think

2021 Hyundai Elantra - hyundainews.com

2021 Hyundai Elantra – hyundainews.com|  Shop 2021 Hyundai Elantra on Carsforsale.com

We think Hyundai is playing above its price point with the exterior and interior design. Compared to its competition, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra design is fresh and well-balanced. Although the interior plastics let us down a little, the SEL trim features are desirable and would be our high-value pick. The Hyundai Elantra is a much-needed addition to the compact sedan market.

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Steven Mitchell
Steven Mitchell

Steve's first car had pedals, and he's been filled with passion for four wheels ever since. He lives and breathes the car life as a technologist, futurist, and writer while keeping up with the whys, hows, and plans of the automotive industry. His automotive journey began with a fully restored Triumph TR3b that he sadly never appreciated until decades later. Ownerships of X-1/9's, BMW's, an SVT and a Dodge Ram Hemi have given way to the house of Audi Sport. You'll also find him as an endurance athlete on the bike in SoCal, but you'll know he's thinking about cars.

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