2021 Hyundai Elantra Pros vs Cons. Should You Buy?
The Elantra has been a Hyundai staple for decades. In 2021, the seventh generation is making its debut. Just about everything about this compact car has changed, at least a little. Were all of these changes for the better? Have issues from past generations finally been addressed? The answer to both questions is yes, and many important upgrades have been made, although the vehicle is not perfect.
What's New for 2021?
Inside and out, the 2021 Elantra looks different than the outgoing model. It is lower, wider, and longer. It also includes more advanced technology features on its standard equipment list. You can now get a performance-oriented version of the Elantra, which is sure to broaden its appeal moving forward.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Hyundai Elantra – The Pros
1. Fun New N and N-Line Models
If the Elantra's lack of power has been holding you back, the N or N-Line trim will be right up your alley. The N-Line is powered by a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder that can make 201-horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. It can be paired with a dual-clutch seven-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. As for the N, it gets a turbo 2.0L that brings the output up to 276-horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque. This option can be paired with the same six-speed or a dual-clutch eight-speed automatic and is expected to be available later in the year. Either new option provides invigorating power for a sedan of this size.
2. Generous Backseat Space
One of the nicest things to come out of the Elantra's redesign is the amount of space it gives you in the backseat. This is particularly true of the rear legroom, which is ample enough for even tall adults to feel comfortable. No matter the height of the passengers, they can appreciate the open feel and extra breathing space now found in the backseat.
3. Available as a Hybrid
Fuel-efficiency is typically a major factor when car shopping, which is why the new hybrid option is so smart. Combining a 1.6L four-cylinder with an electric motor, the Elantra Hybrid can make 139-horsepower. Hyundai is predicting that this powertrain will be able to get around 50mpg combined city/highway driving.
4. Excellent Fuel Economy Numbers
Even if you decide against spending extra on the hybrid, your new 2021 Elantra will give you impressive efficiency. Thanks to the Intelligent Variable Transmission, or IVT, the base SE is estimated to get 33mpg in the city and 43mpg on the highway. The SEL and Limited trims do not do quite as well but can still get a respectable 31mpg city and 41mpg highway.
5. Standard Wireless Smartphone Integration
These days, a vehicle coming standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is hardly newsworthy. The 2021 Elantra raises the bar, however, by coming equipped with wireless versions of both of those features. You no longer have to worry about remembering to bring a cord or how cluttered it makes your cabin look.
6. Sleek New Exterior Look
It is clear as soon as you look at the new Elantra that its redesign made it look more aggressive, but in the best way. Lowering the sedan has given it a sportier feel while making it longer gives it a sleek and elegant appearance. The cascading front grille is unique but not in an obnoxious way and helps the Elantra make an entrance.
7. Driver Aids are Standard
Some vehicles stubbornly skip standard driver aids for their entry-level models. The 2021 Elantra, on the other hand, gives you a fairly comprehensive suite from the base SE trim on up. Highlights include useful features like lane-keeping assist, forward-collision mitigation, and a blind-spot collision-avoidance assist. That last feature not only warns you of a vehicle in your blind-spot but can also hit the brakes if you are in danger of hitting it to avoid or minimize the impact.
8. SEL Trim is Fully Loaded
When looking at the standard Elantra trim levels, the SEL stands out as an excellent value. It adds extras such as dual-zone automatic climate control and keyless entry and ignition. Choosing the SEL also unlocks two packages, so you can decide if you want to add convenience features or luxury features. The more expensive Limited model is unnecessary for most drivers unless they really want touches like leather-trimmed seats. Plus, the Limited trim level gets a slightly larger touchscreen but loses the wireless aspect of the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay features.
9. Smooth and Satisfying Ride
The new design of the Elantra has it gliding smoothly over the pavement. It does well when it comes to absorbing bumps and keeping them from affecting those in the cabin. This is especially impressive when you factor in the lower ride height of the new design. Plus, while this may not be the sportiest vehicle on the road, the Elantra does offer responsive steering for a satisfying driving experience.
10. Available Digital Key
Perhaps one of the most useful features for the modern driver is the available digital key. It allows your compatible smartphone to lock and unlock your car by simply holding it up to the door handle. Better still, it can start the Elantra. Busy drivers can have one less thing they need to remember to grab as they run out the door.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Hyundai Elantra – The Cons
1. Base Engine is Blah
The Elantra's new N and N-Line models are surprisingly powerful, but the standard engine leaves a lot to be desired. It is a 2.0L four-cylinder that generates only 147-horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. Despite the vehicle's overall pleasing driving dynamics, the lack of power when you hit the accelerator may get old quickly. Once it gets up to speed, however, the Elantra does not sound like it is under strain.
2. Too Much Plastic
While it is true that Hyundai does not claim that the Elantra a luxury vehicle, it is still a bit disheartening to see the number of hard plastics in the cabin. This is particularly true of the backseat. The outgoing generation had a more upscale feel overall on the inside. This is an area that can easily be addressed during a refresh in the next few years.
3. Lack of Cushioning in the Seats
The Elantra is not the most comfortable sedan to sit in, especially if you are taking more than a quick trip. Drivers who decide to overlook this flaw may want to invest in a seat cushion. This is another area that can be easily addressed by Hyundai.
4. Lack of Trunk Space
Although the cabin is nice and roomy, the trunk of the new Elantra design is on the smaller side. This is true when comparing it to rivals as well as the outgoing generation of the Elantra. Still, it should be adequate for an average grocery shopping trip. Plus, when you choose the SEL or Limited trim levels, you get a helpful hands-free trunk release feature.
5. No Available All-Wheel Drive
While a lack of all-wheel drive may not normally be an issue for a sedan, it is disappointing that the new N-Line and N models do not at least offer it. If Hyundai wants these models of the Elantra to be taken more seriously as true performance-oriented options, this needs to change. Available all-wheel drive will help the Elantra keep up with options like the ultra-sporty Mazda3.
How It Stacks Up to the Competition:
2021 Hyundai Elantra vs 2021 Honda Civic
Any small sedan that wants recognition has to go up against the Honda Civic. Like the new Elantra, it offers a spacious cabin, and the optional engines are fun. That being said, many of the new Civic's advanced driver aids are either difficult to use or too sensitive. Many drivers will find that they are ultimately more complicated than they are worth. The Elantra's, on the other hand, are more user-friendly, making them more helpful overall.
2021 Hyundai Elantra vs 2021 Kia Forte
These two sedans share a lot. The Forte is also an affordable option that offers great value in the form of a long standard equipment list. Due to the Elantra's redesign for 2021, however, the Forte cannot keep up. Most significantly, the Elantra is roomier and has more high-tech features. The Forte is going to need a redesign of its own in the near future if it wants to catch up with the Elantra.
Overall, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra is a smart choice. If you are after a more athletic drive and can afford the N-Line or N, it will be worth it. Otherwise, most drivers will find the Elantra has everything they need for their daily driving. Ideally, Hyundai will refresh this sedan in the not too distant future to give the interior a cabin that is sophisticated enough to match the new exterior. Turbocharging the standard engine would also go a long way toward broadening the Elantra's appeal.
• Why buy a 2020 Hyundai Elantra? w/ pros vs cons