If Hyundai’s New Year’s Resolution for 2017 was to improve their popular Elantra with a cutting-edge design, a variety of new editions and a slew of new features that enhanced the driver experience then it’s safe to say that the Korean automobile Succeeded. That’s right, Succeeded with a capital S. While we’ll go into some of the reasons why the Elantra was on point in 2017, it’s important to note that 2018 is a carryover year, meaning that only minor changes were applied. The 2018 Hyundai Elantra was showcased at this year’s Texas Auto Show but we recently spent a week with the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Value Edition and took an in-depth look at the many ways this reliable compact will give you bang for your bucks.
The Year of Refinement
Longer and wider than the 2016 version, the 2017 Elantra took a refreshing turn toward sophistication and technological advancement this year. Bold lines in the body and a snazzy headlamp design creates a modern curb appeal while still allowing for Hyundai’s sense of style to shine through. Everything about the exterior feels balanced and calculated, setting a new bar in design for the compact car segment. In fact, the newly redesigned 2017 Elantra even won the International Design Excellence Bronze in the Automotive & Transportation 2016 category; an international award from a premier international design competition. The award is well deserved.
The first element you’re likely to notice is the wider, deeper grille. It’s bold and confident which allows your eye to gravitate toward the front headlamps. The sleek design is a departure from the curvy, almost whimsical headlamps design from 2016 and instead opts for very cool structuring of the HID lights. Hyundai continued with this same modern sculpting down the sides of the body where strong lines create a linear path to the new LED taillights.
The Elantra lives on the edge between compacts and sedans which makes for a deceptively large interior cabin that feels a lot like the Sonata, in size and style. It might not appear like much but the extra inch Hyundai granted the Elantra in both length and width allows for additional leg and hip room for both drivers and passengers. A newly configured front dash layout may just be the highlight of the 2017 Elantra. Simple but elegant, the dash is an excellent arrangement of knobs, buttons and the 7-inch infotainment screen that is brilliantly tilted, ever so slightly, towards the drive. Much like the exterior design, the dash looks balance and refined, built with materials that feel firm and pleasing to the touch. This is the type of dashboard design you’d expect in much more expensive vehicles.
There’s no denying that Hyundai understands not all drivers fit in one box. Case in point, the Elantra comes in six different trims, beginning with the base SE model. The GT model is the hatchback version of the Elantra, the Sport model comes with racing inspired elements and the Limited model is the most luxurious of the bunch with all the bells and whistles Hyundai has to offer. There’s also the Eco trim option, the “green” version of the Elantra, complete with an inline-4 turbocharged engine. Rounding out the six options is the model that we spent a week with: the 2017 Elantra Value Edition.
With “Value” right there in its name, it’s safe to assume that this edition of the Elantra brings desirable features to the base model while keeping the price at a level that would be considered “savings”. Thankfully, that’s exactly what the Value Edition accomplishes, bringing together a robust set of features into one package that costs less than the sum of the same features purchased separately. It’s an interesting concept that allows Hyundai to introduce features to thrifty buyers who might not otherwise opt for them. For instance, a leather shift knob might be considered an attractive perk that merely ends up on a driver’s wish list (which it should because a nicely crafted leather bound shifter knob can feel like heaven in your hand). With the Value Edition, the leather shift knob is included and allows for the drivers to experience this perk at a discounted price, alongside other perks that they would normally opt for.
What does the Elantra Value Edition include? The flashier features include Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lange Change Assist, Hands-free Smart Trunk release, a 7-inch Display Audio System with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, LED daytime running lamps, sunroof, a Bluetooth hands-free phone system and a keyless entry with a Proximity key. Not so sexy, but equally impressive, are the heated front seats, power driver’s seat, dual temperature control with air ionizer, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Oh, and don’t forget about that leather-wrapped shifter because trust me, after using it, you’ll wonder why all shifter knobs aren’t leather wrapped and beautiful to the touch.
Adding all of these options separately to the base Elantra SE model will set you back $21,465. Opting instead for the Elantra Value Edition, which includes all of the same options, comes out to $20,250 – a savings of $1,215. Why not, right?
Riding Like a Sedan in a Compact Package
2017 not only brought refined stylings to the Elantra but also a new engine rumbling under the hood – a 2.0-liter inline-4 block with 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. Coupled with the 6-speed automatic transmission that came in our Elantra Value Edition, Hyundai says that this engine configuration should net 28 miles per gallon in the city, 37 on the highway and 32 combined. Also new in 2017 is the engine in the Elantra ECO edition which is a 1.4-liter turbo line-4 with 128 horsepower and 156-lb feet of torque.
On the road, the 2017 Elantra drives and handles with a confidence, performing above average in all the areas you would expect from a compact car. It revs up nicely from gear to gear and does so much quieter than I’d expected. Steering is tight, particularly in the Sport driving mode, and the high strength steel used to construct over 53% of the body allows handling to be a solid, study experience. In ECO driving mode, driving might not be as exciting, particularly while accelerated but the difference isn’t jarring and actually shaves off a mile or two in gas consumption. A redesigned suspension also compliments the new body to create a silky smooth ride. Riding in a car this size on city road conditions is rarely as comfortable as it was in the 2017 Elantra.
Hyundai continues to innovate across its entire lineup of vehicles and perhaps the most striking example of this is in the 2017 Elantra. With this model year, Hyundai makes all the right moves in improving what was already a reliable compact vehicle. The Value Edition of the 2017 Elantra is a worthwhile addition to a large list of available models and it empowers the drivers by allowing them to feel smart with their wallet before then even put their foot to the pedal.