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2018 Hyundai Elantra Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

2018 Hyundai Elantra Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: Sport vs Limited vs SE, SEL & Value Edition
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What 2018 Hyundai Elantra Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

While the Hyundai Elantra has been around since the 90s, it emerged as a competitor in the compact sedan segment after a full redesign in 2011. With radically good looks, advanced options, and unbelievably good gas mileage, it quickly took its place among the most popular passenger cars in America.

While the other manufacturers have caught up, Hyundai has not rested on its laurels, bringing out another newly redesigned Elantra for 2017. The 2018 Hyundai Elantra has added or moved around a few features in its several different trim levels, but it still offers the same winning combination of style, design and value that has earned it a spot among the compact car heavyweights.

One of the secrets to the Elantra’s success has been offering a wide range of options for buyers to choose from. The current model range includes three different engines spread out among six different trim levels, with some available in both manual and automatic transmission options. The equipment included on those trim levels also ranges from relatively basic to fairly extensive, with some of the higher-end models featuring some options that are rare outside of the luxury car segment.

This guide goes through all of the various options that are open to you when customizing your next Hyundai Elantra, helping you select the right combination to maximize both your value and your enjoyment.

Compare the 2018 Elantra SE vs SEL Trims. What is the difference?

The Elantra’s SE trim is a fairly straightforward entry-level economy sedan. It comes with the standard 2.0-liter engine that it shares with most of the other models in the lineup, and is one of the two Elantra models that are available with a manual transmission. Power doors and windows with keyless entry are standard, as is a six-speaker CD player audio system with a USB port. The seats are cloth and the wheels are 15-inch steel ones on this model. Automatic transmission models also get Bluetooth and cruise control. Otherwise, the SE is a fairly basic economy car.

The Elantra SEL is where most buyers will find their search starting. At just under $1,000 more than an automatic transmission SE, the SEL includes a full set of nice modern features. There is a rearview camera and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The wheels are alloy and feature disk brakes on all four wheels unlike the SE, which uses cheaper drum brakes on the rear wheels. It also comes with a blind spot monitoring system with both cross traffic alerts and lane change assist. An automatic transmission is standard on this model.

Unless you are interested in having a manual transmission or are on a very tight budget, there is little reason to choose the SE trim level. Oriented more toward fleet buyers like taxi companies or car rental agencies, the savings that it offers over the SEL are not worth the lack of features.

The SEL by comparison includes some of the more popular convenience and safety features that compact buyers frequently look for. The smartphone integration through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is one of the major features that has tilted the balance among car buyers. With many of the Elantra’s competitors either not offering that option at all or limiting it to later trim levels, the SEL represents a good investment in terms of connectivity.

The four-wheel disk brakes are the final reason to choose the SEL over the SE, as they offer more stopping power and heat up less than drum brakes do, which means that they wear down slower and don’t need to be replaced as often. Between the SE and the SEL, the SEL is a winner almost every single time, and is easily a $1,000 that is well spent. 

Compare the 2018 Hyundai Elantra SEL vs Value Edition Trims. What is the difference?

The Value Edition is a standalone upgrade on the usual selection of the SEL features. It is focused on offering a number of popular convenience features together in one package. The Value Edition offers a number of nice convenience features, including steering wheel and voice command controls for Bluetooth, LED running lights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

The steering wheel and shift lever are wrapped in leather on this model, and it also comes with a sunroof, a hands-free trunk, and heated front seats. Aside from those features, it is functionally identical to the SEL model and priced at an even $1,000 more. 

True to its name, there is a lot of value in the Value Edition. The moonroof and heated seats alone are easily worth the price of admission for this model, and the additional extras such as infotainment controls and the automatically opening trunk lid are nice extras to sweeten the deal. While none of the features in this package are as game-changing as the ones offered on the SEL, it is still a very high-value trim level. If even one or two of the features added in the Value Edition are of interest to you, you will find this package to be worth the money. 

Compare the Elantra Value Edition vs Eco Trims. What is the difference?

In terms of features, the Hyundai Elantra Eco is basically identical to the Value Edition, minus the moonroof and a few smaller bits like the auto-dimming mirror. Where the Eco is different is in its mechanicals. It is optimized to maximize fuel efficiency, which it does by using smaller 15-inch wheels and a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine exclusive to the model. It also uses a more efficient 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission instead of the six-speed conventional automatic found elsewhere in the Elantra lineup.

Combined, these efforts give the Elantra Eco a substantial fuel economy advantage over the rest of the relatively thrifty Elantra lineup. With the standard 2.0-liter engine, these cars earn 28 miles per gallon in the city, 37 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined. The Eco model boosts these numbers to 32 mpg, 40 mpg, and 35 mpg respectively. This does come at the expense of about 19 horsepower, making it feel slower than the other models. 

If it is the high gas mileage numbers that have attracted you to the Elantra in the first place, the Eco gives you more of what you love. It easily reaches into the hybrid mileage range without the higher price and maintenance that hybrid vehicles demand. It also does not require much compromise in terms of equipment. Its main drawback lies in the low power output of its engine. If you feel that you would get impatient with a less responsive car, the Eco may not be the best option.

Compare the Elantra Value Edition vs Sport Trims. What is the difference?

Like the Eco, the Sport also uses a variation on the Value Edition feature set combined with a different engine and transmission combination. Where the Eco prioritized gas mileage, the Sport prioritizes power and performance. Its turbocharged engine is 1.6 liters and delivers 201 horsepower to either a six-speed manual transmission or a version of the 7-speed dual clutch automatic that has been optimized for performance. The Sport is also slightly more agile than the rest of the Elantra lineup thanks to a multilink rear suspension setup and 18-inch wheels. The rest of the suspension system and the steering also receive a tune-up.

Alongside those performance upgrades, the Sport also comes with a unique body kit that gives it a more aggressive look and some interior accents like a sport steering wheel and a black headliner. It also has HID headlights, a moonroof, and leather seating surfaces in its upholstery. An optional package also equips it with a navigation system, BlueLink telematics, and an 8-speaker Infinity audio system. 

The Elantra Sport is a little faster than the other Elantras and has a bit more equipment, but all of that comes at a hefty price increase. An Elantra Sport with an automatic transmission has the highest starting price of all Elantras, even without options, and represents about a $3,000 premium over the Value Edition with a very similar feature set. If the regular Elantra feels a little slow, give the Sport a spin and see how you like it. But if you are satisfied with the driving dynamics of the regular Elantra, then there are better ways to spend your money. 

Compare the 2018 Hyundai Elantra Value Edition vs Limited Trims. What is the difference?

The pinnacle of what the Elantra has to offer, the Limited has quite a few features up its sleeve, some of which are rarely found in the compact car segment. It has premium 17-inch wheels and a full leather upholstery, as well as a power seat.

It also improves on the car’s lighting, with standard LED tail lights and running lights as well as dynamically bending HID headlights. It also has a few premium styling pieces, including a chrome grille and beltline moulding. It is also, aside from the Sport, the only Elantra to offer an optional package.

The Ultimate Package consists of a sunroof, a navigation system and the 8-speaker Infinity sound system. It also adds driver’s seat memory, rear seat heating, and a forward collision warning system with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, as well as lane keep assist, smart cruise control and automatic high beams.

While the regular Elantra Limited does not have much aside from its leather seating to recommend over the Value Edition and is priced accordingly, the Ultimate Package is a big upgrade. The added safety features are increasingly becoming an industry standard, while the convenience features are definitely nice to have.

One important thing to keep in mind is the price. While the Limited is priced at around $2,000 more than the Value Edition, the Ultimate Package alone weighs in at a hefty $4,350. But if that is still within your price range for a compact sedan, then you will probably get a lot of value out of the features that it brings.

Final Thoughts

Aside from a few relatively specialized trims, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra has a relatively simple selection of trim levels. The entry-level SE can be disregarded by most, as it is a relatively bare-bones price leader model. Both the SEL and the Value Edition are excellent buys, as they offer a good selection of nice equipment for a very reasonable price.

The Eco and the Sport can both be appealing to buyers chasing either mileage or power, but both offer a slightly worse return on investment compared to the main trims. The Limited on its own can be a good choice if leather seats are a must, but becomes an excellent, if high-priced, value when paired with the Ultimate Package. 

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