2017 Hyundai Elantra SE Review and Road Test

2017 Hyundai Elantra SE

Hyundai’s 6th generation Elantra goes back to the drawing board

Words by: Adam Allen

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Remember when the Elantra took the autoshow circuit by storm a few short years ago?

We can clearly recall the sound of many jaws hitting the floor when Hyundai took the wraps off the 5th generation Elantra back in 2011. The styling, dubbed “Fluidic Sculpture” by the marketing folk, made quite the impact on the journalists assembled at the Canadian reveal. Compact cars up to that point were simply trying to out-boring one another, and so Hyundai’s design team is responsible for insisting to the world that compact cars needn’t be styled to look like toasters. In addition to the flashy duds was Hyundai’s always impressive adherence to value- it offered stuff like rear heated seats when some luxury cars didn’t even have the option on their build sheets.

Yeah, it was nice all right…but the looks didn’t live up to the driving experience, did they?

The term “Fluidic Sculpture” seemed to not only apply to the styling, but also to the chassis rigidity, or lack thereof. When we first drove a 2012 Elantra, we described the structure as feeling “weak and fluttery.” That’s decidedly not how you want your car to feel even doing something as simple as commuting around the city, and the rear suspension had a level of wonkiness not seen since econoboxes from many years prior. The way the car rode could charitably described as disconcerting. They nailed the styling and value, but woefully missed the mark on driving dynamics.

Did they get it right this time around?

While we might not recommend reaching for the keys to an Elantra if you’re planning on the occasional autocross or track day (although if you’re shopping the Elantra this shouldn’t be an issue- those interested in something spicier should look at the new Elantra Sport which should change that.) With that being said, the Elantra has seriously cleaned up its act where road manners are concerned. The dodgy behaviour of the chassis and suspension has been totally exorcised thanks to a massive increase in the use of aerospace grade adhesives throughout the Elantra’s construction. For those skeptical that adding some glue to a car’s structure (a healthy 120 meters worth, mind you) makes a significant difference, those familiar with the old model will notice a difference before they even leave the dealership lot on test drives. Not only does the Elantra feel more cohesive, it’s also more refined than before and feels composed and quiet under most driving conditions. Steering feel is still mostly a non-starter but the action and feel of the brakes is much improved. While there’s still work to be done, the driving experience has caught up to the charismatic styling.

What about the inside?

The Elantra’s interior did enjoy a thorough refresh as well, and it looks more polished and grown up. Save for a few areas where cheap materials are still present, you can tell Hyundai was putting forth a greater effort to attract more drivers to the Elantra’s cockpit. Most of the touch points you can see and feel are quality stuff- the redesigned leather wrapped steering wheel was a pleasure to hold and the leather that it’s covered in is deliciously soft. The instrument panel has also been rethought to good effect, but one thing they left mostly alone was the infotainment system. It was pretty darn good before, now made even better by some incremental changes. It’s a pleasure to use and you may never need to consult your owner’s manual on how to get the most out of it. There’s a good amount of space for passengers, and if there’s any complaints we’d wish for a little more rear headroom- a compromise as a result of the swoopy styling. Our SE tester offered tremendous value, however- try finding another car at this price point that offers heated seats both front and back as well as a heated steering wheel.

What might go wrong?

Hyundai went to great lengths to address some of the shortcomings of the previous Elantra and they’ve succeeded quite well in doing so. There’s still room for improvement, but it’s minor stuff- a little more use of higher grade materials would work well to spruce up the interior, especially since competitors like Honda’s Civic and the Mazda3 offer up interiors that are much nicer than their price tags suggest. And although there’s a good amount of power from the 2.0 litre engine, we wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more oomph for those not wanting to step up to the newly available Sport model.

Should you buy a Hyundai Elantra?

Last year, a little over 47,000 driveways welcomed Elantras across Canada making it one of the best-selling cars around. That number should climb for 2016-2017 as new buyers are lured into showrooms by the 6th generation you see here. The compact class has been hot as of late with manufactures trying to one up each other to get more sales, so competition is fierce. If you place an emphasis on extracting the most bang for your buck when deciding on your next car, you owe it to yourself to have a look at the 2017 Elantra.

 

2017 Hyundai Elantra SE — Specifications

  • Price as tested: $23,999
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger compact sedan
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/front wheel drive
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Engine:  2.0 litre inline-4, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower:  147 @ 6,200 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 132 @ 4,500 rpm
  • Curb weight: 1,350 kg (2,976 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 8.9L/100km (26 mpg)