Hyundai faces stiff competition in the four-door sedan segment. Despite what you might think, it doesn’t just pit its trio of sedans (the Accent, Elantra, and Sonata) against other sedans in the segment. These models must also prove themselves as equal to (or better than) a subcompact crossover. That’s not the easiest case to make.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra, however, has a few tricks up its sleeve. With your pick of engines, drive styles, and features, it’s easy to get the most out of this mid-level sedan. Slightly larger than the Accent but not quite as spacious as the Sonata, the Elantra still manages to keep drivers interested. Yes, even in the sedan segment, which is slowly dying off.
To help you decide if the 2021 Elantra deserves your ownership, we’ve put together this handy guide. With all the details you need, this guide will educate you before you hit the dealership for a test drive. Remember, an informed buyer is a smart buyer.
Available only in front-wheel drive, the 2021 Elantra positions itself in a trio of variants. The first is the base 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine capable of 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired to a continuously-variable transmission (CVT). The hybrid model takes advantage of a marriage between a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder and a 32-kW electric motor. It makes 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, with a CVT putting power to the wheels as well.
Finally, the sporty N-Line variant puts out 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged 1.6-liter, four-cylinder powerplant. The exciting news for the N-Line is that you can forego the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (and its paddle shifters) for a six-speed manual. Yes, fans of driving stick still have a few options left.
Available Color Schemes
Hyundai sells the 2021 Elantra in the following colors. Oddly enough, they aren’t given quirky marketing names like “Hydro Fierce Crimson” or whatever, like so many other vehicles. Instead, the Elantra just comes in “Red” or “Blue”
Trimlines and Pricing
There are four trims available on the 2021 Elantra. With an attractive starting price and plenty of interesting options as you go up in models, there’s probably an Elantra for any driver in the market for an affordable sedan. Here’s a basic breakdown of the four trims, their prices, and the highlights of what they include. For even more information, check out Hyundai’s website.
Starting at $19,650, the base Elantra model includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, an eight-inch touchscreen, cloth seating, manual front seats, remote keyless entry, 15-inch wheels, and 64 shades of available ambient lighting. It also comes with a couple advanced safety, like forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection and blind spot monitoring.
For push-button start and a power driver’s seat, choose the SEL model. Additional features include satellite radio, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, a sunroof, an eight-speaker Bose sound system, and 16-inch wheels. It also includes a hands free trunk release. The SEL Model starts at $20,900.
Known as the sport performance model, this trim includes N-line styling inside and out. You’ll fine cloth and leather combo seating with red stitching, 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, a sporty suspension system, and an analog gauge cluster. It also upgrades to the 201 hp engine, as mentioned earlier. The Elantra N-Line starts at $24,100.
Some details are still forthcoming in regards to the N model. It’s reportedly equipped with a sporty engine to support this “performance-focused trim.” Available with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, this model will have bigger brakes behind 19-inch wheels and sport front seats to support you as you speed along. A “unique exterior fascia” will announce your presence to neighbors or onlookers.
The larger 10.25-inch instrument cluster and 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen connect to one another on this top trim level. It also also includes GPS navigation, leather seating, LED headlights, and 17-inch wheels. Finally, it adds voice recognition and assisted parking features. The most expensive Elantra starts at $25,450.
Though the 2021 Elantra has yet to be rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), that doesn’t mean Hyundai left customers wanting when it comes to safety systems. After all, the 2020 version received respectable safety ratings from both organizations. It was even tagged as a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS.
Standard safety features include a rearview camera, a safe exit warning, blind-spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, driver attention warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane follow assist. You’ll have to pay a bit more to get systems such as cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance assist, highway driving assist, rear parking sensors, and park distance warning.
The EPA reports the following ratings for the 2021 Elantra.
- The 2.0L four-cylinder engine makes 33 city and 43 highway miles-per-gallon (MPG) on the SE model. It drops slightly to 31 city and 41 highway MPG on the SEL and Limited models.
- Hybrid models of the Elantra will enjoy a 53 city and 56 highway MPG rating on the SEL hybrid. The Limited Hybrid version drops slightly to 49 city and 52 highway MPG.
- The 1.6L turbo four-cylinder engine sacrifices a bit of economy for the power boost. It achieves only 28 city and 36 highway MPG. The manual version drops a bit more, to 25 and 34 MPG.
What Others Are Saying
Named 2021 North American Car of the Year, the Elantra earns the title by combining a number of practical features and customizable options for the perfect mix. An affordable starting price certainly increases the customer base. Then add in opportunities like multiple engine choices, fuel types, trims, and driving styles. It’s a winning recipe.
In fact, there’s quite a few praising comments from reviewers around the internet. Drivers at U.S. News appreciated the “gentle ride.” Meanwhile CarAndDriver couldn’t help but note the model “wows with its features, performance, and value.” Within the cabin, Edmunds remarked that the dual screens “impart a distinct European luxury sedan vibe.” That’s quite a statement for a vehicle that costs much less than an import of luxury quality.
“Efficiency is king with the new Elantra,” declares Kelley Blue Book, whose experts felt the “controls (steering, gas, brakes) are well-tuned for smooth and predictable response.” But does this jack of all trades fall a bit short when it comes to wearing the crown?
There were a few gripes to be voiced from these experts as well. For instance, an “abundance of interior hard plastic, particularly in the backseat area,” rubbed Edmunds the wrong way. Although the infotainment system certainly amazes, CarAndDriver lamented that the “best infotainment features aren’t standard.” Kelley Blue Book experts note that blind-spot warning isn’t a standard safety feature, which could be a deal-breaker for some customers. Here’s what the Elantra is up against if any of these minor quibbles turns you off.
Alternatives to the 2021 Elantra include the Volkswagen Golf, Kia Forte, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, and Mazda3. Hyundai notes the hybrid Elantra model will be coming soon, as well as the track-ready Elantra N. If you’re looking for a fun ride, the VW Golf typically delights quite a few test-drivers, as does the Civic Type R. Each of these competitors focuses on value as well. You own personal preference will ultimately reign when it comes to separating key features on these compact sedans.
The Last Word
We hope you’ve found this article on the 2021 Elantra to be useful in your search for a new vehicle. We recommend stopping by your local Hyundai dealership to test drive this model, or even some of the other Hyundai lineup models. We’ll be here if you need more information on competitors who might better fit the bill. Check out the rest of our reviews and stay tuned for information on newly-released vehicles.