For $26K, The 2021 Hyundai Elantra Shows You Can Get A Luxurious Ride With Little Cash: Video

Hyundai's latest effort is a far cry from its old economy cars

2021 Hyundai Elantra
(Photos: Hyundai)

For about $26,000 – it’s hard to beat the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited.

If you’re looking for lots of comfort, accessories and a big warranty, the automaker really does bring a lot of bang for your buck.

The 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited — still the top trim in this car’s seventh generation — is the most inoffensive, calm and economical ride you can get with oodles of comfort upgrades. Sure, the base model Hyundai Elantra starts at a hair under $20,000, but this top-spec Limited comes with a ton of goodies that makes it a great bargain. Did I mention it’s comfy? For a car in this class, it’s remarkably compliant

What’s under the hood

Its 147 horsepower 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine makes 132 lb-ft of torque. That’s about mid-pack in its class, but it’s not fast – at all. It is hooked up to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which acts a lot like a regular automatic transmission. In fact, it may be one of the better CVTs I’ve experienced in a vehicle in this class. That’s saying something.

This Elantra is extremely efficient. It manages gets 31 mpg city, 41 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined according to EPA figures. Those numbers put the car at the upper end of the class, and nets you some of the best fuel mileage you can get short of buying a hybrid. Speaking of which, if you are looking for more efficiency the Elantra does have a hybrid option in this generation.

2021 Hyundai Elantra

Interior and cargo space

In its class, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra has “Best in Class” passenger volume. This is extremely noticeable when you jump in the back seat, and compare it to an equivalent Toyota Corolla. While the Corolla is an excellent vehicle, (they all are in this class) it can’t match the Hyundai’s comfort and content.

By the way… In the video, I accidentally say, “14.3-cubic inches” instead of, “14.3-cubic feet‘ of cargo space. Sorry about that, but the good news is: this is a huge trunk! There’s also a spare tire in there with a little extra space for a few odds and ends.

The interior’s design and materials makes it one of the best in class. With slick interior ideas, like unique materials on the upper front doors, the design esthetic is outstanding. I especially like the infotainment setup with the right-sized 10.25-inch screen. The buttons and switchgear look like they came out of a Genesis, or perhaps a pricy German sedan. Also, the center cluster is a 10.25 inch configurable screen that displays information like speedometer, driver assistance and navigation.

2021 Hyundai Elantra

You don’t necessarily need the Limited to get a well-specced ride

I’m all about value, and the 2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL gives you a ton of kit for the money. In fact, with its price starting at just over $21,000 (including destination) it has as much of the same equipment as sedans costing twice as much. The mid-range SEL also has some packages to bring it closer to the top-of-the-range Limited. Unlike many of its rivals, the Elantra also has segment-first wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.

SEL Convenience Package +$950

  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist w/ Pedestrian, Cyclist and Junction-Turning Detection—
  • 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster
  • Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go
  • Electronic Parking Brake
  • With Convenience Package
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
  • Wireless charging pad
  • Heated front seats
  • Heated outside mirror

SEL Premium Package +$2,100

  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Dark chrome exterior accents (grille, lower bumper, emblem)
  • Chrome window trim
  • LED + bulb taillights
  • Bose premium audio with 8 speakers
  • Power sunroof
  • Side mirror turn-signal indicators
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seatback with armrest and cupholders
  • Power driver seat with lumbar support
  • Hyundai Digital Key
  • Passenger seatback pocket

Driving the 2021 Hyundai Elantra

Despite having a Torsion Beam rear suspension, the overall driving competence of the standard 2021 Hyundai Elantra models is excellent. Sure, you can get an independent rear suspension in other versions of the Elantra (like the hotter N Line version), but this setup, with the independent front suspension strikes an excellent balance. It soaked up our crappy Colorado backroad bumps with no drama. Handling is secure, but the steering may feel slow to folks who are impatient.

The base engine in the Elantra does not sports car, not by a long shot. It’s sluggish, especially at high elevation. Unless you have a turbocharger, like the equivalent Honda Civic, you’ll probably find the 2.0-liter’s thrust adequate. If you want more power, there are other Elantra models that you can choose. The Elantra N Line, on the other hand, gives you a snappy turbo, and the option of a manual transmission (if you’re awesome) or a 7-speed dual clutch for an extra $1,100. I have yet to drive that model.

All in all, while the 2021 please me with its value, comfort, design and efficiency. Seriously, for folks who are interested in something that gives you the best content and design for the money, the Elantra — whether in its top-spec Limited or mid-range SEL trim — is a hell of a bargain.