Long, low, wide and loaded with features, Hyundai calls its new 2021 Elantra compact sedan a “disrupter-spirit” of the auto industry’s trend from traditional cars to SUVs.
Among other major moves in a market segment many automakers have abandoned, the sleek Elantra will offer a hybrid rated at more than 50 mpg. Add luxury-brand features like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and you’ve got a compact that might actually make some noise.
The 2021 Elantra should go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2020. Pricing and detailed fuel economy information will be available closer to sales.
Hyundai cancelled a debut in front of journalists because of the COVID-19 outbreak, replacing it with a live streamed event at 10 p.m. Tuesday from California, where the company has its U.S. headquarters. The webcast will repeat after streaming live.
At 184.1 inches long, the 2021 Elantra — called the Avante in Korea — is 2.2 inches longer than the outgoing model, which remains on sale. It’s also longer than key competitors like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Mazda 3 and Nissan Sentra. The Volkswagen Jetta is the biggest of the bunch at 185.1 inches long.
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The Elantra’s wheelbase and width also grew to dimensions that are among the class leaders. Its roof is 0.8 inch lower than the old model.
Despite growing in all dimensions, the Elantra, which uses a new platform Hyundai calls K3, is lighter than its predecessor. The car’s center of gravity is lower, which Hyundai says delivers sporty handling.
Key available features
- “Digital key” app to lock, start with your smart phone
- Wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Standard 8-inch touch screen
- Optional 10.25-inch touch screen
- Backup camera
- Navigation system
- 8-speaker Bose audio
Safety and driver assistance features
- Forward collision alert and automatic braking
- Pedestrian recognition
- Automatic high beams
- Lane keeping assist
- Lane centering
- Driver attention alert
- Blind spot and cross traffic alerts
- Adaptive cruise control
- Rear object detection and automatic braking
Power and performance
The hybrid will combine a 1.6L engine, electric motor and a battery under the rear seat. The Elantra is a front-wheel-drive vehicle. Unlike many hybrids, but true to Hyundai’s practice, the transmission is a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Most automakers build hybrids with continuously variable transmissions.
Total system power is a typical 139 horsepower complemented by an impressive 195 pound-feet of torque.
The base drivetrain gets a 2.0L engine producing 147 hp and 132-pound-feet of torque. The engine is linked to a continuously variable automatic transmission.
A higher performance N Line model is in the works, but Hyundai won’t say when, or what performance upgrades are in store.
The exterior design recalls the 2020 Hyundai Sonata midsize sedan. Hyundai alternately refers to the styling theme as “sensuous sportiness” and — I’ll take “I don’t think that word means what you think it does,” for $100, Alex — “parametric dynamics.”
Noteworthy features include:
- Tail lights shaped like Hyundai’s stylized “H” logo.
- A long, low hood
- Wide, deep and dramatic grille
- Wraparound head lights
The interior features a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster, available 10.25-inch touchscreen, a palette of 64 colors for mood lights and slim vents to emphasize the impression of being in a wide, spacious vehicle. Despite the low roofline, there’s more front and the same rear headroom as the current model. Hyundai promises best-in-class rear legroom, improved shoulder room and 14.2 cubic feet of trunk space — pretty good for a compact sedan.
A new voice recognition system promises to handle commands including:
- Climate control on/off
- Temperature up/down
- Heated seats and steering wheel on/off
- Defrost on/off