The current Hyundai Elantra is a solid compact car, but with the redesigned, seventh-generation model, the Korean automaker is going for broke. The 2021 Hyundai Elantra packs more tech, as well as its first hybrid powertrain, in effort to break the stranglehold the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla have on the market.
Hyundai said its goal for exterior styling is “longer, lower, wider,” — generally considered the three ingredients for a great-looking car. Though it’s a four-door sedan (no word yet on whether the Elantra GT hatchback will return), the 2021 Elantra adopts the lower coupe roofline of the larger Sonata for a sleeker look.
Normally, the coupe look decreases headroom. Yet Hyundai claims the new Elantra has more headroom than a Civic or Corolla, as well as more rear-seat legroom.
Following the Corolla’s lead, the Elantra adds a hybrid powertrain for the 2021 model year. A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed dual-clutch transmission work with an electric motor and a small battery pack mounted under the rear seats. Total system output is 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, and estimated Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy will be above 50 mpg combined, according to Hyundai. For comparison, the Corolla Hybrid and the Civic-based Honda Insight Hybrid are rated at 52 mpg combined.
The non-hybrid 2021 Elantra has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 147 hp and 132 lb.-ft. It’s coupled to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which Hyundai calls “IVT” (“Intelligent Variable Transmission”). The automaker claims its version is more responsive than most CVTs, which are loathed by car enthusiasts. All Elantra models remain front-wheel drive.
The 2021 Elantra gets Hyundai’s Digital Key, first seen on the 2020 Sonata. Digital Key lets a smartphone take the place of a traditional key fob, allowing you to unlock the doors, start the car, and drive without a a physical key. However, Digital Key is only compatible with Android phones. While some automakers offer apps that can start an engine remotely, only Tesla and Lincoln offer similar functionality. It’s impressive to see this tech on an affordable compact car like the Elantra.
The standard infotainment system includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with an 8.0-inch touchscreen. A 10.25-inch touchscreen with a faster processor, as well as wireless phone charging, are available on higher trim levels.
Standard driver aids include forward collision warning, lane keep assist, lane follow assist, automatic high beams, and a driver attention monitor. Adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and automated lane centering are optional extras. Note that Honda and Toyota make adaptive cruise control standard equipment.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra is scheduled to go on sale toward the end of this year. United States-market cars will be built at Hyundai’s Montgomery, Alabama, factory.
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