- 2021 Hyundai Elantra ($19,850 – $25,600)
- Top Safety Pick – IIHS
- 5-Star Overall Safety Rating – NHTSA
- 2021 North American Car of the Year
- Pro: The redesigned-for-2021 Hyundai Elantra packs a lot of value and a surprising amount of performance for a compact sedan
- Con: Some safety features aren’t standard
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra was completely redesigned and is now lower, longer, and wider than ever before. Now in its seventh generation, the Elantra brings a lot to the table and remains highly competitive in a segment led by stalwarts like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. The most astute onlookers will notice that the Elantra now looks a lot like its older sibling, the Sonata, but that’s a good thing.
Those edgy looks are backed by a lot of value, a choice of efficient and potent engines, and well-mannered driving dynamics. I spent a week driving the Elantra N Line and came away thoroughly impressed with everything it had to offer.
Which Elantra trim level is the best one for you?
For the 2021 model year, there are four different Hyundai Elantra trim levels to choose from:
- SE – $19,850
- SEL – $21,100
- N Line – $24,250
- Limited – $25,600
The 2021 Elantra offers handsomely unique styling at every angle
Take one look at the 2021 Elantra and it will be hard not to notice all of its sharp edges and even sharper body lines. I personally think that it looks like some type of rolling origami experiment, but that’s not really a bad thing. As brands like Honda have shown, edgier styling can typically withstand the test of time.
As far as the Elantra’s overall look, I think it’s uniquely handsome, especially from the rear angle. The sharp trunk and aggressive taillights give it a daring approach to being a “regular commuter car,” and the front end doesn’t look too overdone. The side angle is where it gets interesting. As Kelley Blue Book pointed out, the sharp triangular creases in the door make “it look like Zorro showed up.” I couldn’t agree more.
How comfortable is the Hyundai Elantra?
The Elantra may be considered a compact sedan, but you won’t think so once you sit inside of it. With 99 cubic feet of total passenger volume, the Elantra’s interior rivals that of many mid-size sedans. In fact, it’s a little larger than the Corolla’s interior volume (88.6 cubic feet) and equal to the Honda Civic’s (99 cubic feet) interior space. Take and seat and you’ll notice that the front buckets are comfortable and provide decent lateral and lumbar support, while the rear seat area provides a decent amount of leg and headroom for those passengers.
There’s also an abundance of upscale materials all over the cabin and there’s a simplistic, albeit futuristic overall feel to it. A touchscreen infotainment system sits front and center with the HVAC controls below it. Everything is easy to use and the buttons are easy to find, making the Elantra’s interior a stress-free affair.
The most interesting part, though, is the handle that’s built into the center console to the left of the passenger seat. To top things off, you can also choose between 64 different interior lighting settings. Did I mention that the Elantra is unique?
The Hyundai Elantra comes with a wealth of standard features
Every Hyundai Elantra comes well-equipped, even in the base SE trim level. The most notable standard features include wireless Android Auto and Apple Carplay, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, cloth interior materials, remote keyless entry, and Bluetooth.
Stepping up to the SEL trim will give you a proximity key with a push-button start, dual auto-climate control, and satellite radio. Just note that the SEL trim can be outfitted with a Convenience package that includes:
- 10.25-inch touchscreen
- Smart cruise control
- Frontal collision warning with pedestrian detection
- Heated front seats
- Wireless phone charger
- Heated outside mirrors
There’s also the option for selecting a Premium package as well. That includes:
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Dark exterior accents
- Bose premium audio system with eight speakers
- Power driver’s seat with lumbar
- Hyundai Digital Key
I highly recommend opting for both packages. Although you can always opt for the N Line trim, which comes with all of that plus a heftier turbocharged engine. Lastly, the Limited trim level comes with all of those aforementioned features plus a leather interior.
How does the Elantra handle?
The 2021 Elantra handles better than you might expect from a commuter car, especially in the N Line guise. This sportier trim level beefs up the standard Elantra suspension with stiffer sway bars, springs, and powertrain mounts. You can definitely feel the car rotate well in tight corners, although there’s a bit of understeer when moving at a hurried pace. Nonetheless, the Elantra N Line’s suspension feels comfortable and compliant at cruising speeds and its steering is responsive and not too numb feeling.
As for the regular Elantra suspension, there’s definitely a little more body roll. However, that’s to be expected and it’s fine considering it is a commuter car, after all. That being said, you likely won’t have too many complaints if you had to spend more than a couple of hours sitting in an Elantra.
The Elantra has two different engine choices
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra is available with two different engine choices. The base SE, SEL, and Limited trims each come with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine, while the N Line trim level comes with a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine.
Here is a breakdown of the engine specs:
2.0-liter, inline-4 (SE, SEL, Limited)
- 147 horsepower @ 6,200 RPM
- 132 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 RPM
- EPA-estimated fuel economy: 33 city/43 highway (SE), 31 city/ 41 highway (SEL, Limited)
Turbocharged 1.6-liter, inline-4 (N Line)
- 201 horsepower @ 6,000 RPM
- 195 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 – 4,500 RPM
- EPA-estimated fuel economy: 22 city/29 highway
In my real-world, mixed driving situations, I averaged 30 mpg in the Elantra N Line. Also, I found that the power delivery was smooth in the upper RPM range, but getting there took a little time thanks to some boost lag. Otherwise, the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission shifted smoothly and quickly, but I would have rather had the six-speed manual.
Is the Hyundai Elantra safe?
The 2021 Elantra is as safe as a compact car can be. Its notable list of standard safety features includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, lane-follow assist, active high beams, blind-spot collision avoidance assist, and a driver attention monitor. A rearview camera is also standard.
If those safety features aren’t reassuring enough, then you can rest assured that the Elantra is safe because it received a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Not to mention that it also received a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The Elantra’s maintenance is affordable as well
The Elantra brings a lot of value in terms of its features and powertrains, but it also provides a lot of value when it comes to the cost of ownership. According to Edmund’s True Cost to Own calculation, it should cost an average of $2,747 for the first five years of maintenance. And when it comes to repairs, buyers can expect to spend around $646 for the first five years, which is super affordable.
For some added reassurance, and cost savings, the Elantra is also backed by the brand’s renowned 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. It even comes with five years of 24/7 roadside assistance, so you’ll save money if you ever need a tow truck as well.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra packs a value-sized punch in a formidable compact segment
Considering it competes in the compact sedan segment, there’s no denying that the 2021 Hyundai Elantra goes toe-to-toe with some of the best cars in the business. However, the Elantra’s superior value packaging, potent and efficient engines, and well-sorted price structure should put the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla on notice. And if it’s not on your shortlist by now, you should definitely check out the Elantra if you’re in the market for a small sedan.
MotorBiscuit gives the 2021 Hyundai Elantra an expert rating of 8.0 out of 10
The editors at MotorBiscuit gave the 2021 Hyundai Elantra an overall rating of 8.0 out of 10. The Elantra’s zippy nature and unique personality add a wildcard flavor to the segment that it competes in. Also, it’s hard to beat the car’s superb warranty and affordable pricing.