2017 Hyundai Elantra offers premium features, economy price

AFFORDABLE STYLE: The 2017 Hyundai Elantra delivers sporty style at an affordable price.
AFFORDABLE STYLE: The 2017 Hyundai Elantra delivers sporty style at an affordable price.

The Hyundai Elantra is the brand’s best-selling vehicle in the US and is known as a value in the competitive midsize car segment. For 2017, Hyundai added new features and technologies all at a starting price less than the outgoing model.

The goal with the new Elantra is to give customers more of the features they want at a price they can afford. This means a reworked Popular Equipment package that now includes a 7-inch touch screen display and a rearview camera with dynamic gridlines as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Despite the added features, Hyundai knocked $200 off the package price.

There will be four different trim levels available starting with the SE and Limited arriving in dealerships now, and followed by the Eco and Sport later in the year. The base SE starts at $17,150 with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. A 6-speed automatic is available and is standard on the Limited.

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The engine provides 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque delivering ample power for cruising highways and even climbing steep hills. Mash the gas pedal and the response isn’t that of a more powerful sedan like the Sonata, but the Elantra does itself proud.

BEAUTIFUL INTERIOR: Quality materials give a premium feel to the new Elantra.
BEAUTIFUL INTERIOR: Quality materials give a premium feel to the new Elantra.

Handling was better than expected with the Elantra making quick work of tight corners and winding roads. Steering is tight and on-center and the suspension smooths out the rougher bumps and dips in the pavement while keeping the driver in control. The cabin is remarkably quiet with little road and wind noise to hamper the ride and interfere with conversations.

New this year are three different drive modes that are scrolled though with the press of a button on the center console. This adjusts the engine, transmission, and steering to tailor the drive experience. The default is Normal which is the comfortable, everyday drive mode. The engine is responsive, the ride is smooth, and the Elantra is well-mannered and relaxing to pilot.

Take things down a step with Eco to improve fuel economy, but do so with a performance sacrifice. Especially during hard acceleration, this mode made the Elantra slower to respond and far less enjoyable to drive. Swing the other direction to Sport and you suddenly have a car that feels like anything but an economy ride. We left the Elantra in Sport mode through most of our drive and would use this as the default setting.

Along with the improved Popular Equipment package, Hyundai offers a Tech package on the SE trim that is standard on the Limited. It includes LED daytime running lights and blind spot detection with rear traffic alert for added safety. It also has a new hands-free smart trunk. Instead of waving your foot beneath the bumper like an acrobat, simply standing behind the trunk with the key fob in your pocket will activate the release for easy loading when your arms are full.

The Limited, which was our test vehicle, includes all the bells and whistles and has a starting price of $22,350. It’s the premium model in the lineup and it truly feels that way despite being a mid-size sedan with an affordable price. There are heated leather seats for both front and rear passengers and power lumbar adjustment for the driver. Seating is comfortable, never stiff, with a nice amount of bolstering to hold you firmly in your seat on tight corners.

The Tech package at this level adds an 8-inch touch screen with an 8-speaker Infinity sound system with subwoofer and Clari-fi to improve sound quality. Audiophiles will notice the difference in the richness and depth of sound. Finally, add the Ultimate package for the latest in autonomous safety technology.

This includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, smart cruise control, and lane keep assist to help nudge you back into your lane should you begin to drift. Hyundai has improved lane keep assist from its prior incarnation by allowing several levels of adjustment. If the driver finds it too sensitive, with the system nudging the wheel and beeping with annoying frequency, rather than turn it off, the sensitivity can be reduced. It’s a great way to keep people using this feature rather than turning it off in frustration.

Estimated fuel economy adds to its value with the Limited coming in at 28 city/37 highway/32 combined. Today’s low gas prices won’t necessarily stay low, so the benefits of great fuel economy should not be overlooked.

The 2017 Hyundai Elantra is an appealing mid-size sedan with the safety and convenience features buyers crave. Pricing that tops out at $26,750 for the most well-equipped model means those premium features can be had at a reasonable price that make the Elantra a great buy.