Auto review: Hyundai updates its Elantra sedan for 2019, adding technology, safety

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Dec. 17, 2018

             

The compact Hyundai Elantra sedan, now in its sixth generation, gets a thorough redesign for 2019. 

The compact Hyundai Elantra sedan, now in its sixth generation, gets a thorough redesign for 2019, inside and out, including more standard technology features, along with a new infotainment system and additional active safety features standard on more trims.

Exterior styling is upgraded with a wider grille featuring horizontal slats, and deep-set vertical outboard turn signals with enclosures that allow air to pass through.

New wedge-shaped headlights with LED running lights seem to pierce the upper grille corners. The hood is also new, along with the front fascia and front fenders. The trunk lid and taillights are new, as is the rear fascia.

The license-plate housing has been moved down to the new glossy black rear bumper. Spear-shaped taillights extend across the trunk lid, echoing the piercing headlights.

Trim levels include the 2.0 SE ($17,100, with six-speed manual gearbox; $18,100 with six-speed automatic), 2.0 SEL ($19,000), 2.0 Value Edition ($20,400), 2.0 Limited ($22,600, the model I drove), 1.4 Eco ($19,950), and 1.6 Sport (six-speed manual/seven-speed automatic, price not available at this time).

The Eco trim gets new 15-inch alloy wheels with covers. Limited and Sport trims now have LED headlights. Inside, the instrument panel and housing, center console, climate controls, air vents, and storage tray are new.

Elantra now has a standard rearview camera with guidelines, a larger infotainment display, and Bluetooth connectivity on base models. Driver assistance on all but the base model includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning/lane-keep assist, and Driver Attention Alert. It detects tired driving patterns and alerts the driver with audible and visual warnings on the instrument cluster.

My Elantra Limited was Galactic Gray with two-tone gray interior (dark upper and lower, light middle, with glossy black and brushed-silver trim and accents, and gray-on-gray checks across the top of the dash/instrument panel/air vents and gauges in the instrument cluster).

Under the hood was a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with dual continuous variable valve timing, connected to a six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic (manual shifting), and 17-inch five V-spoke (lots of angles) bi-color (silver with gray pockets) alloy wheels. Smart Shift Drive Mode is now standard on SEL models and above.

Drive Mode allows the driver to control fuel efficiency and driving dynamics: Normal for typical driving; Sport for quicker throttle response, longer shifting, and tighter steering; and Eco for slower, smoother acceleration, gentler steering, and lower A/C performance for maximum fuel efficiency Ė up to 40 mpg on the highway. Otherwise, EPA ratings for my Elantra Limited were 28 mpg city/37 highway/32 combined. In Normal mode, mostly on the highway, I averaged 36.8 mpg.

A wireless charging pad, located in a cubby under the center stack, is now standard on the Limited model only. Limited is also the only model offering an option package, the Ultimate ($3,350), which adds upgraded navigation (faster processor; HERE HD Traffic) with an eight-inch touch screen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Blue Link multimedia map updates (three-year complimentary service), forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, smart cruise control, integrated memory for driverís seat and outside mirrors, 4.2-inch color instrument cluster display, power sunroof, and safe exit assist (new for 2019). Navigation maps now have a birdís eye view.

HERE Real-Time Traffic uses multiple sources of information to supply continuous updates on traffic flow, road work, accidents, closures, weather, and ETA, and offers alternate routes. Safe Exit Assist will audibly alert passengers if a vehicle is approaching from behind as they attempt to exit from the rear doors. It uses radar positioned inside the rear fenders to detect vehicles approaching from the rear, and will not allow the rear doors to be opened if traffic is detected.

For 2019, the Limited now has standard Infinity premium audio with eight speakers, including a center channel and subwoofer, HD radio, and Clari-Fi music restoration technology for clear, realistic sound. SiriusXM is included for three months.

Blue Link Connected Services is standard for three years, with features such as SOS Emergency Assistance (live agent trained to help), Enhanced Roadside Assistance (out of gas, flat tire, need a tow), Automatic Collision Notification (notify first responders even without input from driver or passengers), Monthly Vehicle Report (assist in timely maintenance), and more.

My Elantra Limited had four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist; electronic stability control with traction control; leather seating with heated front seats, and power driverís with lumbar support; dual automatic temperature control with auto defogger; hands-free smart trunk (cavernous 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space); a compact spare under the cargo floor; and Blue Link remote start. Auto defogger and remote start came in handy on frosty mornings, clearing the windows and warming the interior.

With additional sound-absorbing material, my Elantra was quiet, even at highway speeds. The seats were comfortable, even in the rear, with 35.7 inches of legroom. Driver and front passenger had 42.2 inches of legroom.

Charging ports were limited to two 12-volt outlets (one in the center console armrest bin) and one USB port.

Elantra was an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus for 2018 and offers one of the best warranties in the segment.

Carpeted floor mats added $125, and along with the Ultimate package and destination charges of $885, my Elantra Limited had a delivered price of $26,960.