This is a review I posted to a popular automotive forum. I have given myself permission to ‘reprint’ it here.
I was in South Carolina on business and had the pleasure of getting the keys to a sparkling Silver 2008 Hyundai Elantra GLS. This model was equipped with what appeared to be the “Popular Equipment and Sunroof Package” paired with the 4-speed auto. According to the Hyundai USA website, this car with the above package has an MSRP of $17,275. This seems like a strange combination considering that the higher-spec. SE model is $50 more and is equipped with alloys, stability control, telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and a trip computer. This particular example had approximately 2500 miles on the odometer and was in excellent condition.
Exterior: The overall appearance of the car is quite nice; it is probably a little bland, but not bad. The panel fit and paint quality seemed fine with no obvious problems. I don’t have a lot to say here, and I doubt many others would.
Interior: At first glance, the interior is pretty nice. The materials looked nice and the panel gap is minimal. The dashboard design and layout was very pleasing and decidedly up-market for a car in the price range. The center stack was well laid out and has simple, easy to read controls.
However, the nice dash does have its faults. The bluish purple lighting was too bright and the color produces a lot of glare. The instrument backlight dimmer needs a lower setting. I’m not a fan of Hyundai’s color choice, but I suppose some may like it.
The front seats are the biggest problem with the car. The seat back was too soft and was unsupportive, there was little leg support with the short seat base, and the seat base angle was pitched to far forward even with the base in the lowest position. I’m of a fairly average size (5’10”, 160 lbs), and I could see some serious back and leg pain issues driving this car for extended periods. I didn’t test the rear seat, but it appeared livable and to be about what you’d expect from a car this size.
The one-touch operated moonroof was a nice feature, and was surprisingly quite while opening and closing. There was little wind noise produced by the open moonroof at highway speeds.
Trunk space was adequate. I didn’t have a lot of luggage, as you can see, so it met my needs. The trunk floor was uneven and looked cheaply made. However, the cheap uneven floor did not degrade or otherwise harm trunk functionality.
Safety: The safety systems seem to be in order; the Elantra comes with the requisite drive and passenger air bags as well as side air bags and side curtains. This model lacked the aforementioned stability control. No IIHS data on side impacts with side airbags, but frontal impact rating is “good”. I did not have an opportunity to evaluate the safety systems first hand.
Driving Impressions: The ride quality was pretty nice and the power was adequate for this 2895 lb. car. The 2.0L CVVT 4-cylinder engine was a little sluggish merging on to the highway, but overall power was acceptable.
On to the complaints: The transmission shifted smoothly, but held gears too long and was slow to shift. The brakes were really touchy. They grabbed hard with very light pedal pressure and were pretty annoying. Along with the touchy brakes, the steering was numb and over boosted. This concludes my complaints.
Conclusions: The Elatra seems like a nice enough car, but I can think of a number of comparably priced cars that are as good or better.