Hyundai Elantra melds charm and practicality



How do you straddle the line between plain and exciting? Or, in the compact-car class, between the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic?


You straddle the line with a line. Look at the profile of the 2007 Hyundai Elantra and its swooping wave-like character line. Imagine it isn’t there and the whole car loses its visual punch.


The biggest draw of the redesigned Elantra is its interior space — technically, there are so many cubic metres of volume inside that it’s classified as a mid-sized car.

In front of the driver sits an attractive and informative instrument panel, with stereo controls placed high and centre in the dashboard — perfect for frequent radio surfers.

At night, those drivers who love VW-style blue gauges will feel instantly at home in the Elantra, which also features moody blue backlights.

Standard on the $20,595 GL Sport are power, heated mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control, air conditioning, heated front seats, upgraded audio system, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, active head restraints, side curtain and side impact airbags, 16-inch wheels, fog lamps, rear spoiler and a sunroof. If the Elantra GL Sport was a pizza, it’d be a super deluxe.

If you’d like leather, an automatic transmission, and a few more goodies, the top-range $23,095 Elantra GLS is the model for you.

The nice thing about choice is that the Elantra range starts with the GL at just $15,595. The base model comes with a good number of features. Have more cash to spend? Including the base GL and top-level GLS, there are 11 Elantra models to choose from.

Beneath the hood of all Elantras sits a peppy 138-horsepower, 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engine that produces a good balance between power and fuel economy. Another plus is that, for the compact class, engine noise is at a minimum.

Remember all that talk about the Elantra being bigger than its competitors? You feel it in the rear seat area. In addition to the extra space, the rear seatbacks fold in a 60/40 split, so there’s a good chance that impulse Ikea purchases will make it home safely.

Even impulse shoppers won’t feel regret at taking home the Elantra. In 2006, J.D. Power and Associates’ Initial Quality Survey (a study that polls owners after 90 days of ownership), ranked Hyundai third of all car companies.

Who were they behind? Lexus and Porsche.

In other words, price is no longer a barrier to getting a quality product.

And the Elantra? Well, it’s not excitement on four wheels, but there’s no reason to think you can’t expect several years of trouble-free commuting — while sitting behind that swoopy character line.

Hyundai Elantra GL Sport

Type: Compact 5-passenger sedan FWD

Price: $20,595

Engine: 2.0-litre L4 DOHC

Horsepower: 138 @ 6000 rpm

Torque (lb-ft): 136 @ 4500 rpm

Highlights: Looks, number of options, value, interior space, warranty, quiet interior.