What is it? Following the redesigned Hyundai Sonata and Tucson, the new Elantra brings the same sleek "Fluidic Sculpture" styling characteristics, with flowing side lines, integrated headlights, and hexagonal front grill.
The new Elantra will be powered by a new 1.8-liter, 148-hp four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. The new engine is smaller in size and weighs 74 pounds less than the powerplant in last years model. Moving from a four- to a six-speed automatic, shaving weight, using low rolling resistance tires, fitting a smart alternator, and reducing aerodynamic drag has given the new Elantra EPA fuel economy ratings of 29 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, with either transmission.
One of the first small cars to offer stability control, the Elantra now offers stability management, which manages both the ESC and electric power steering during sudden lane changes or fast turns.
The Elantra gains two inches in the wheelbase and almost an inch in overall length, but the height is lower by 1.8 inches. The updated interior gives the cabin a more modern, upscale feel.
The Elantra comes standard with a six-speaker audio system with MP3 playback and satellite radio, plus USB jacks. Navigation with a rear-view camera is available on higher trims, as well as push button start, power sunroof, and leather seating. Pricing will start at $14,830 for the base GLS model with manual transmission.
CR's take: The Elantra has been our Top Pick small sedan for a few years. It's a solid car that offers plenty for the money. We were impressed with the new design of the Sonata and the new Elantra carries many of the same attributes. In initial drives we found the ride and handling pleasant.
When will it be available? Late 2010.