LOS ANGELES, December 29, 2016 – Hyundai launched its all-new sleek Elantra design at this fall’s LA Auto Show, however, this auto reviewer is quite enamored with the 2016’s more sculpted and sporty exterior. But should you wait for the 2017 model or is this new 2016 “value edition” really worth the price? Come discover the answers in a side-by-side comparison of the 2016 and 2017 Elantras.
Beyond a low sticker price and good fuel efficiency, Hyundai’s Elantra brand has other important “values” including being ranked highest in its segment for “initial quality” in 2014 J.D. Power studies.
Here’s the bottom line about the “new Elantras.” The 2016 models “fluidic sculpture” design is sporty and chic while the all-new 2017 design looks more like any other (albeit compacted) refined Euro sedan. The 2016’s interior, on the other hand, is a childish mishmash of America-meets-Asian design while the 2017’s newly-designed interior evokes a much-needed grown up appeal (as in a tiny Genesis).
As you can tell, I’d much prefer the 2016 outside mated with the 2017’s sophisticated interior. Alas, my dream subcompact combo is not available.
2016 (top) and 2017 (bottom) Hyundai Elantra from behind by Hyundai Motors USA
What is available now in Hyundai dealer showrooms is the 2016 Elantra “Value Edition,” which my family drove around these cliff-hanging Hollywood Hills, fast-moving historic boulevards and tiny, but tree-and-garden-filled side streets.
Truly, the small size of the Elantra gave this urban driver an edge when changing lanes, cruising down narrow cottage-lined streets and certainly when it comes to tight LA parking situations.
With the grand discount, this “value edition” trim model has a base MSRP of just $19,700 (not inclusive of $895 destination charge).
So what are the standard features on this 2016 Elantra “Value Edition” and how much does it really cost?
Hyundai claims it is providing a “$1,000 value savings by bundling attractive features at just $550 more than an Elantra SE with the popular equipment package,” including: 16-inch alloy wheels, power tilt-and-slide sunroof, tilt-and-telescopic steering column, leather steering wheel and shift knob, proximity key, push button start, heated front seats, chrome beltline moldering, aluminum entrance sills and side mirror turn signals.
This is all in addition to the 2016 Elantra’s most standard equipment: a 1.8-liter engine with six-speed automatic transmission, hill start assist control, automatic headlamps, fog lights, air conditioning with cabin filter, dual power-heated outside mirrors, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, 4.3-inch color display, rear view camera, 60/40 split-folding rear seat and six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with 90-day Sirius satellite radio trial.
Plus, every 2016 Hyundai model comes equipped with today’s most advanced safety technologies including anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist.
The 2016 interior is most obviously made with millennials in mind as it has more of a masculine auto pilot appeal much like Ford’s compact interiors. Whether or not you enjoy the mini Genesis look of the 2017 model or this trying-to-be-high-tech 2016 version, Hyundai interior designers delight with their satisfying mix of textures from matte black to shiny piano black to burnished chrome-looking plastics.
2016 (top) and 2017 (bottom) Hyundai Elantra interior by Hyundai Motors USA
Our 2016 Value Edition model was outfitted with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, which felt perfectly smooth. We loved not only the grip of this superbly-crafted steering wheel, but also the thumb-based controls for a very modern no-hands ride.
In fact, the ugly-to-my-old-eyes driver’s cockpit was quite ergonomic except for the shift placement. The shift knob in the 2016 Elantra feels a little low and, therefore, I did not tend to lean my right palm upon its leather-wrapped surface. Also, the cool mobile device charging niche (which includes a 12-volt outlet, iPhone auxiliary input and USB ports) just in front is blocked by the shift stick when in the “parking” position. This can be rather annoying when chilling before and after driving as it takes extra effort to pry your smartphone from the blocked space.
The 2016’s warms-fast heated front seats are quite comfortable even for tall adults and long rides. My 12 year-old-daughter, who has been testing back seats since infancy, deemed the Elantra’s back seats were not the most comfortable and complained bitterly about the hard, straightback seating.
The 2016 Elantra’s cargo space is certainly big enough even for medium-sized shopping trips and the 60/40 pass-through rear seating boosts cargo capacity considerably.
Our road test 2016 Elantra Value Edition was equipped with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine with a whopping 145 hp and 130 lb. ft. torque. When mated with Hyundai’s six-speed automatic transmission, this fast, yet fuel efficient powerplant gets an EPA-estimated 28 mpg city and 38 mpg highway for a combined mpg of 32 (goes down to 31 mpg combined when outfitted with 17-inch wheels).
We even loved the noise engineering when it comes to the 2016 Elantra’s 1.8-liter engine. At start, the engine gives us just the right kind of roar to make any racy commuter a bit excited. Acceleration in all gears is peppy and hops quickly enough for fast lane changes or happenstance green light straightaways.
The Elantra’s smooth shifting and expert handling and braking is only slightly deterred by the too-hard steering. Here’s to hoping the 2017 model’s steering has been crafted more like a Euro sedan with a softer, more relaxed steering feel.
2016 or 2017? It’s hard to choose whether to go for the sporty 2016 Elantra Value Edition with its near luxury standard features and affordable price. Or, wait for this compact to transform into a compact Euro sedan with a more luxurious interior. What will it be for your hot new fuel efficient ride?