Under its radical skin, the Elantra offers three distinct power choices, with a fourth on the way. The Hybrid’s our hypermiler favorite, and the Elantra N excites. Base cars do fine commuter detail—and the Elantra N promises ripe performance for a sliver of sedan buyers. We give the Elantra a 5 here for the Hybrid and base versions, but N versions might rate a 6 or more.
Is the Hyundai Elantra 4WD?
It’s front-drive all around.
How fast is the Hyundai Elantra?
Base cars and hybrid Elantras aren’t quick. In base spec, the Elantra’s 147-hp 2.0-liter inline-4 does its best to sip fuel while it sends power to the front wheels. It’s diligent, but there’s not much gusto here. The CVT that doles out power tries to muster gear changes like those on a typical automatic, but it lags even when it’s dialed into Sport mode, and responds slowly even when the gas pedal’s floored. Passing on the freeway takes some calculation.
On the upside, the Elantra can be entertaining to drive. This Elantra has notably better handling than prior versions, with crisp steering feel undercut by some wandering on the highway. It isn’t made of exotic stuff, with its front strut and rear torsion-beam suspension, but it’s damped well for that kind of low-key driving, and its brake pedal tuning adds to the dutiful air.
Elantra Hybrid performance
We prefer the Elantra Hybrid’s better off-the-line performance. It pairs an electric motor and a 1.3-kwh lithium-ion battery pack to a 1.6-liter inline-4 and a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission, for a net of 139 hp. It’s the better of the more frugal Elantras: the electric battery boost responds better at stoplight launches, and its transmission clips through real gears with more natural feel than the CVT. They combine for stellar EPA ratings of up to 54 mpg combined, too.
Hybrids also don a more complex rear multi-link suspension that drives with a stronger sense of stability. It’s planted, and that shows up in the way it corners. The powertrain can stutter as the gas engine clutches in and out, but that’s a minor trade-off for the soaring fuel economy ratings.
Elantra N performance
Minus the Hybrid’s gas-sipping add-ons, plus a turbocharger, the 201-hp Elantra N Line charges up drivers in a different way. Quick enough to scoot to 60 mph in about seven seconds, it also offers a 6-speed manual as standard gear, with a $1,000 7-speed dual-clutch option. It’s vibrant and quick, with a light-touch clutch and a long throw that seems even more satisfying than it is rare.
The Elantra N Line handles well, too. On 235/40 R18 Goodyear Eagle F1 tires in manual-transmission spec, the Elantra N Line outcorners and outgrips all other versions of the car, and it isn’t just the tires talking. It has an independent rear suspension, stiffer springs, and a rear stabilizer bar paired with bigger front brake rotors. It’s taut without upsetting the ride too much—and at about 3,000 lb, it strikes the right balance between everyday comfort and responsive tuning, while also leaving lots of upward potential for the upcoming Elantra N.
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