What it is: The Elantra is Hyundai's compact car that is all new for 2017. Following the incredibly successful fifth-generation made from 2011-2016, the new sixth-generation is a huge improvement from the outgoing model. The interior is extremely handsome, and looks like a slightly smaller version of the Sonata interior (very much a good thing). For only $800, you can get the popular equipment package which gives you a 7-inch color touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, cruise control, Bluetooth, and steering wheel audio controls. It's a must-buy option. An extra $1,300 gets you the Tech Package which provides a color LCD cluster display, LED running lights, hands-free smart trunk, heated seats, proximity key, and duel zone air conditioning. Another good buy.
My test model was the Elantra Limited, which for a $4,200 premium over the SE trim, gives you both of the packages above ($2,150 value) plus an upgrade to 17-inch wheels, LED taillights, chrome body accents, rearview camera, heated leather seats, power driver's seat, and a few other visual changes. The Elantra does have some more packages, but only if you choose the Limited trim. $2,500 gets you the Tech Package (Navigation, sunroof, Infinity 8 speaker stereo, and heated rear seats) and if you get the Tech Package, then you can buy the Ultimate Package for $1,900 which adds HID headlights and adaptive cruise control with emergency braking.
I love that you can get all of the great tech features on an entry-level car but a thousand dollars here and a few thousand dollars there adds up quickly. My test model was priced at $27,710 with all of the options. Does the world need a nearly $30,000 Hyundai Elantra? I think the answer is no because I would much rather have a Sonata with a few options taken off for the same amount of money. If you have asked me about buying a new car lately, then you have heard me recommend the Sonata almost every time, and the Elantra just doesn't make sense at this price point.
The Elantra is a great little car, though. They've made compact cars so large, that they are being classified as mid-sized cars because they have so much interior room and trunk space. The Elantra is no different, and offers a surprising amount of room. While the Elantra doesn't have a ton of power on tap with a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine, it offers plenty of oomph for your commute.
Price: $17,150 base price. $27,710 as-tested.
Upsides: Great ride, interior, fuel economy, warranty and price.
Wrap-up: It's nice that Hyundai will sell you a totally tricked out Elantra, but my recommendation is to go with the SE trim and add the $800 popular equipment package and the $1,300 tech package. The Elantra with those two options is probably the best car under $20,000. Otherwise, if you want a car with more options, buy a Sonata instead! Only because it has a better structure for more luxurious options. Definitely take a look at both if you are shopping for a mid- to full-sized sedan.