When it was unveiled in 2011, the fifth-generation Hyundai Elantra turned heads—plenty of them. Its combination of sexy styling and the availability of numerous class-above features made it a standout in the compact segment, and it quickly became one of the automaker’s most popular models and eventually became Hyundai’s best-selling vehicle. For the sixth generation, Hyundai once again offers exceptional value in the 2017 Elantra with the latest tech and connectivity in a package that’s affordable, stylish, fuel efficient, and recognizable. With three versions of the 2017 Elantra on the way, Hyundai will have options for a range of tastes, each with features often reserved for luxury cars.
Perhaps the biggest news for the 2017 Elantra is the addition of the Eco model, which will go on sale in spring 2016. A new 1.4-liter, turbo I-4 making 128 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque will be the only engine available in the Elantra Eco, and it will be paired exclusively to a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox.
The diminutive motor has been optimized for fuel economy with features such as an integrated cylinder head and exhaust manifold and a single-scroll turbo with a scavenging strategy for better low-end torque and response. For those who prioritize fuel economy, the Elantra Eco is expected to be the most fuel-efficient model in the lineup, and Hyundai says it should achieve up to 35 mpg in the combined cycle.
For 2017, the 1.8-liter I-4 found in the outgoing Elantra has been ditched in favor of a 2.0-liter unit running on the Atkinson cycle. Generating 147 hp and 132 lb-ft, the new base motor can be mated to a six-speed automatic or manual gearbox depending on the trim level you choose. (The stick is only available in the base model.)
Hyundai says automatic Elantras with the new 2.0-liter I-4 should receive an EPA fuel economy rating of 29/38 mpg city/highway. This engine also comes from the Nu family, which Hyundai uses on the Sonata Hybrid. Although both run on the Atkinson cycle, one of the differentiators between the two is that the Sonata Hybrid’s motor uses direct injection and the Elantra’s makes do with multiport injection.
With the exception of the Eco model, the 2017 Elantra lineup uses a conventional six-speed automatic as standard. (It’s an option in the base model.) Improvements have been made to this gearbox, which has been optimized for fuel economy with a 3.3 percent increase in efficiency.
A new valve body has also been added to improve the transmission’s responsiveness, and double angular ball bearings help minimize rolling resistance and friction. The size of the transmission’s oil pump has also been altered so it can operate more efficiently.
Like recent Hyundai vehicles such as the 2016 Tucson, second-generation Genesis, and the current Sonata, all variants of the 2017 Elantra will come with three driving modes. Normal mode is the happy medium, providing a balance of fuel efficiency and performance. Switching over to Sport mode maximizes performance. Eco mode sits at the other end of the spectrum and puts the priority on getting the most out of every drop of gas.
For 2017, the Elantra continues to feature a torsion beam rear and McPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and gas shocks. Extensive changes have been made, especially to the rear, where the suspension geometry, shock absorber angle, and coil spring position have been changed for better stability, ride, and handling. Additionally, the rear bushing diameter has been increased for better long-term durability.
The 2017 Elantra contains more high-strength steel than the outgoing model; 53 percent of the new vehicle’s body is reinforced with the material. As a result, the new model is lighter than the car it replaces and gets 29.5 percent better torsional rigidity and 25.3 percent better bending strength. Additionally, structural adhesives, which are used mainly in manufacturing aircraft, are used in the 2017 Elantra to improve NVH and make the car’s body stronger. Hyundai is targeting a 5-Star safety rating from the NHTSA and Top Safety Pick + from the IIHS.
A new infotainment system has been added to the 2017 Elantra, and it’s available with a 7- or 8-inch touchscreen. Like the unit found in the 2016 Tucson, the interface features new functions such as a split screen mode to display your navigation directions and music info at the same time.
Variants with navigation come with additional apps such as Pandora and additional voice control functions. On higher grades, you’ll be able to add an eight-speaker Infinity by Harman Kardon audio system so you can bump the tunes while enjoying your drive.
Connectivity is a strong point with Hyundai and sister brand Kia, which offer intuitive, modern solutions. At launch, the 2017 Hyundai Elantra will come with Google Android Auto enabling Android smartphone users to integrate their mobile devices with the vehicle so there’s no need to pick up your phone, take your attention away from the road, and turn yourself into a cop magnet. Apple CarPlay will follow soon after so that iOS users can let Siri take over the car’s infotainment system and even guide you to your next destination.
Because of the increasing levels of connectivity in people’s lives, cars are gaining more USB ports with every update, redesign, and refresh. In the case of the 2017 Elantra, the car now has a second USB port to plug in your mobile device to keep it charged or integrated with your vehicle, so you won’t need to choose whether you want to play the awesome music in your flash drive or charge your smartphone. Now you’ll be able to do both.
Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system gets an upgrade in the 2017 Elantra and gains new features such as remote start with climate control, destination search powered by Google, and stolen vehicle recovery. You can even lock and unlock your car using your smartphone, as some of Blue Link’s functions can be controlled using mobile devices.
Once it hits the market, the 2017 Elantra will be one of the few entries in the compact segment to offer an extensive suite of active safety aids. Features such as forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, lane change alert, blind-spot warning with rear cross traffic alert, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection will be available. This makes the 2017 Elantra one of only two entries that comes with an automatic emergency braking feature in the compact class.
A growing trend among small cars is to offer both an exterior footprint that’s compact and city-friendly, so that it can go anywhere, and an expansive interior. With a total interior volume of 110.2 cubic feet, the 2017 Elantra remains one of the roomiest entries in the compact car segment.
Should you need more space than the trunk offers, the 2017 Elantra does come with 60/40 split folding rear seats to expand your cargo capacity when you’re not hauling people.
Originally available only on larger Hyundai cars such as the Sonata and Genesis, the hands-free Smart Trunk has trickled down to the Elantra to give it a feature no other entry in the compact class has. With the key fob in your pocket and your hands full of grocer bags or bulky items, all you need to do is stand near the back of the car, and a few seconds later, the trunk will open. Should you find this feature annoying when you have nothing to put in the cargo area, you can also turn it off.
On higher trim levels, the 2017 Elantra will be available with HID headlights with dynamic bending lights and LED daytime running lights. This means that when you turn the steering wheel, the car’s headlights will turn in that direction, as well, lighting up parts of the road that are not visible to make night driving safer. In the compact segment, the 2017 Elantra will be one of two entries that will offer headlights that turn with the steering wheel on higher trim levels.
Environmental friendliness is en vogue, and as a result, Hyundai has replaced the petroleum-based polyol seat cushions with something with eco cred. The SoyFoam material is essentially soybean oil that’s been turned into a material similar to the polyurethane foam found in everything from couches to car seats. Regardless of whether you get an Elantra with cloth or leather upholstery, all cushions are made of SoyFoam.
With a laundry list of improvements and new features now available in the 2017 Elantra, it’s looking like it’ll be a solid entry once it hits the market. Would you consider one for yourself as a fuel-efficient daily commuter, or would you go with its competitors? Sound off in the comments below.