Caraganza First Drive Review: 2019 Hyundai Elantra Limited: Second verse as good as the first

(Hyundai)

(Hyundai)

When Hyundai sent me a 2019 Elantra Sport last month, I liked it, I liked it very much.  Here was a nice affordable small sedan with a “Sport” designation that featured a rarity not found in many modern vehicles, a manual transmission option. That fact alone endeared me to the little Korean made gem. After a week with it nothing changed my mind.

However, I later thought that perhaps I was a bit biased by the fact that there was a manual gearshift; maybe I was blinded to any flaws, oblivious to anything that might sour my impressions.

So when they decided they’d send me a Limited model for another week (the Limited is the top of the line model that comes loaded) I decided I would give a more complete, more unbiased, assessment of the small sedan.

To review: The 2019 Elantra comes in six trim levels, with three engines and three transmissions shared among them. The base SE offers a pretty limited feature set, but moving up to the SEL, the Value Edition and finally the Limited nets many improvements. The Eco offers a more fuel-efficient engine with midlevel equipment, and the Sport comes with a strong turbocharged engine.

The non-sport models have a 2.0 liter naturally aspirated engine with 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque (except for the Eco which has a 1.4), while the Sport has a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine with 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque.

The 6-speed automatic is the transmission of choice, although the manual can be swapped as an option.

Hyundai did some refreshing to the Elantra for 2019. Most of those changes came on the outside, and they are making more standard technology features available; oh, and there’s a new infotainment system.

(Hyundai)

(Hyundai)

All the models have the newest safety features via the SmartSense package: forward collision avoidance, lane keeping assist and more.  Moving up the line to the Limited you have a leather interior, power driver’s seat with lumbar support, hands-free power trunk, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, Infinity audio, Qi wireless charging, high-beam assist and push-button start. My tester also had the Ultimate package a $3350 add on that adds navigation with an 8-inch screen, a power sunroof, safety exit warning, the Forward Collision Assist adds pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control.

One thing that didn’t change with the Limited over the Sport was the roominess of the interior. The 110.2 cubic feet of interior space actually qualifies the Elantra as a midsize sedan; yet the outside looks small.

Brilliant.

Truth be told, the naturally aspirated 2.0 did not perform as well as the 1.6 turbo in the Sport. Perhaps I was still used to the Sport, but I when I first drove the Limited, I actually thought there was a bit of turbo lag under aggressive acceleration (even though there is no turbo).  But overall the 2.0 did fine for what the Limited is, which is not a sports car (although the Limited does have a “Sport” mode).

The week with this latest Elantra was another good one.  With the added nav and other upgrades I would almost prefer the Limited over the Sport, even with the Limited costing about $3000 more. This could be a fine everyday driver with a roomy interior that would be quite comfortable for a long commute.

But alas there is a problem.

The Hyundai Elantra is suffering from the same woes facing many of the other auto manufacturers: The SUV. People just aren’t buying cars opting instead for SUVs, crossovers and the like.  The Elantra is none of those. It doesn’t have any sort of hybrid system, glowing neon lights in the cabin, or hamsters dancing around it. This leads one to wonder how long a sedan such as the Elantra will be around. And that’s a shame, because among the sedans affordable to most, the Elantra is one of the better ones.

The 2019 Hyundai Elantra Limited
MSRP: $22,600
MSRP (as tested): $26,960
Engine:  2.0 liter 4-cylinder, 147hp @ 6200 rpm, 132 ft-lb torque @ 4500 rpm
Transmission (as tested): 6-speed automatic w/OD
Fuel Mileage (EPA):  28 city, 37 highway, 32 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 34 mpg
Base Curb Weight (lbs) 2282

Interior Dimensions
Front Head Room (in) 38.8
Second Leg Room (in) 35.7
Passenger Capacity 5
Front Hip Room (in) 53.4
Front Leg Room (in) 42.2
Second Shoulder Room (in) 55.3
Passenger Volume (ft³) 95.8
Second Head Room (in) 37.3
Front Shoulder Room (in) 56.2
Second Hip Room (in) 51.9

Exterior Dimensions
Width, Max w/o mirrors (in) 70.9
Wheelbase (in) 106.3
Track Width, Rear (in) 61.4
Height, Overall (in) 56.5
Length, Overall (in) 181.9
Min Ground Clearance (in) 5.5
Track Width, Front (in) 60.8
Cargo Area Dimensions
Trunk Volume (ft³) 14.4

Warranty
Basic Miles/km 60,000
Basic Years 5
Corrosion Miles/km Unlimited
Corrosion Years 7
Drivetrain Miles/km 100,000
Drivetrain Years 10
Roadside Assistance Miles/km Unlimited
Roadside Assistance Years 5

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Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.

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