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Hyundai’s 2021 Elantra offers new, bold looks and a ton of tech

Written By | Jun 21, 2021

SEATTLE — The entry-level sedan market is as important as ever. With cars like the Honda Civic having had such dominance in this segment, it’s driven Hyundai to keep increasing the quality and value of its Elantra.

Hyundai has done an all-new redesign for the 2021 model year and you can see how this new version has the company’s design language all over the place. The new front grille closely resembles that on the Sonata, and the more pronounced body lines harmoniously blend the car from front to back. The 17-inch alloy wheels with black insets help give the car a more sporty look as well.


Under the hood, we have a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine that has a rated output of 147 horsepower and a paltry 132 lb-ft of torque. And in an unfortunate move, Hyundai has opted to mate it to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). For those who have never driven a car with a CVT, simply think of driving a motor-scooter or a small boat with an outboard motor on it and no gears – it’s a similar experience. It’s remarkable that they went to such a large degree of putting a lot of details into this car and then cripple it with low power output and a CVT.

Hyundai does offer a sport driving mode that helps the CVT not hold gears quite as long, it’s still a rather homogenized driving experience from a performance perspective. If you want more power, opt for the Elantra “N” model.

On the plus side, however, the EPA does rate the car up to 41 miles per gallon on the highway and up to 31 around town.

Inside is where a lot of upgrades went into. The first thing you’ll likely notice is the completely digital display for the speedometer and tachometer. Additionally, there’s an odd-looking emblem to the far left that is merely there for aesthetics, we’re told.


While there is an abundance of hard plastics, the overall look of it is rather upscale for the car’s respective price-point. The overall design and layout are solid and frankly look far better than any car I can think of in this class. While it admittedly took a bit to get used to the digital gauges, they were just fine once acclimated.


If you opt for the Premium Package (which you should), Hyundai slaps in an 8-speaker, Bose-powered infotainment system with a 10.2-inch display. Why they stopped using the far superior Harmon-Kardon systems is beyond comprehension. Sure the Bose system is an upgrade over the bare-bones one but delivers a mediocre audio performance at best. Audio sources include AM/FM/XM Satellite Radio and Bluetooth audio.

Smartphone users will enjoy the available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that make it easy to use your preferred navigation system and is a bit safer to use while driving. Additionally, there is a wireless phone charger as well. If you use an Android-powered phone, you can also use Hyundai’s Digital Key that allows you to unlock and start the car through an app on your phone.

Driver aids include forward-collision warning with emergency braking, pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and driver-attention monitor with safe exit alert.

Front seats offer a good degree of adjustability and are mostly comfortable, however, I wouldn’t be too keen on driving this car on a super long road trip. Plenty of room in the back for two adults with a decent amount of headroom and legroom.


On the road, you’ll find that the Elantra provides a rather underwhelming performance experience with an uninspired steering feel. But that’s okay as the intended buyer for this kind of vehicle typically doesn’t care quite as much about those kinds of details. While the engine is a smooth-rever, it doesn’t give any thrills. At times, passing and getting up to freeway speeds can feel like a chore. However, that’s true with its competition in this class as well. To help negate those kinds of issues, check on the Elantra N version.

The car feels light on the road and provides decent handling with not a lot of excessive body roll, it’s a good daily commuter that looks good, provides a ton of tech inside, and should help Hyundai edge out the competition.


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About the Author: Duane Pemberton is a lifestyle writer and CDNs Auto Editor. Pemberton loves anything that helps bring people together which is why he writes about food, wine, cars, and travel.


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Duane Pemberton

Duane Pemberton is a lifestyle writer and CDNs Auto Editor. Pemberton loves anything that helps bring people together which is why he writes about food, wine, cars, and travel.