Hyundai Elantra UD/JK (2010-2016): Review, Problems, and Specs

The fifth-generation Hyundai Elantra launched in 2010 in the United States as a four-door sedan (2011-2016 model year) but was also available as a two-door coupé (2013-2014MY) and five-door hatchback (2013-2017MY). The Korean compact car offered affordable pricing, generous equipment, good fuel economy, a big trunk, and more attractive styling than its predecessor. However, it lacked in the driving department, and passengers sitting in the rear didn't travel in the most comfortable of conditions. Overall, though, the Elantra offered good value for money and ranked among the best-selling compact models in the United States.


Pros & Cons
Strong Points

Pros


Strong Points
  • Affordable to buy and run
  • Impressive fuel economy
  • Good standard equipment
  • Above-average cargo capacity
  • Strong reliability record

Recommended Versions
Strong Points

Cons


Weak Points
  • Limited rear headroom
  • Not fun to drive
  • Engines could use some more power
  • Sluggish automatic transmission

Stay Away From
  • 2011-2013 models
Strong Points

Attention


Known Problems & Recalls
  • Hyundai recalled certain model year 2011-2012 Elantra sedans in 2015 to recalibrate the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system to eliminate a sensor malfunction
  • Certain model year 2011 Elantras were recalled in 2015 to replace the front coil springs that were prone to corrosion
  • The automaker recalled some model year 2011-2013 Elantra sedans in 2013 to apply adhesive strips to the headliner to prevent its displacement during a side curtain airbag deployment
  • Hyundai recalled certain model year 2013 Elantras in 2016 to replace the brake pedal stopper pad with an improved part to prevent the brake light switch from staying on when the brake pedal is released
Car Details
Powertrain

The base powertrain for all Elantra body styles is a 1.8-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder gasoline engine that delivers 148 hp and 131 lb-ft (177 Nm) of torque. Linked as standard to a six-speed manual transmission (a six-speed auto was an option) the engine satisfies the basic needs of typical compact car buyers but doesn't turn the Elantra into a sporty compact car. The 1.8L engine allows for a 0-60 mph sprint of around 10 seconds, making the Elantra rather slow for the class. With the facelift introduced for the 2014 model year, the Elantra family gained a more satisfactory 2.0-liter engine (optional on the sedan, standard on the coupé and hatchback) that delivered 173 hp and 154 lb-ft (209 Nm) of torque.


Handling

Unlike European competitors and even those from Japanese brands (Mazda3, Honda Civic), the Elantra is not a car for the driving enthusiast — not even in coupé body style or with the more powerful 2.0-liter engine. The Sport trim level introduced with the 2014 model year brought a stiffer suspension that improved handling, but Elantra models fitted with the standard suspension are not exciting to drive. They're not bad either, just neutral. The six-speed automatic transmission is rather slow compared to rivals, though. Overall, the Elantra offers a reasonable balance between ride quality and handling.


Safety

In government testing (NHTSA), the Hyundai Elantra sedan and hatchback received a maximum five-star overall rating, both before and after the facelift. The Elantra got four stars for frontal crash, five stars for side crash, and four stars for rollover. The coupé version wasn't assessed. IIHS confirmed the crashworthiness of the Elantra sedan by awarding it the "Top Safety Pick+" rating for 2013, thanks to the many passive and active safety features offered as standard. The compact sedan got the maximum "Good" rating for moderate overlap front and side impacts, roof strength, and head restraints & seats. In the small overlap front impact test, it was rated as "Acceptable."

Comfort

The Elantra offers a cushy ride quality that will satisfy most buyers. The cabin is relatively quiet, with little wind noise in the sedan and coupé and slightly more in the Elantra GT hatch because of its less aerodynamic shape. However, there's a bit too much road and engine noise, partly because the naturally aspirated 1.8L and 2.0L engines need to be revved high for a decent response. Most drivers will easily find a comfortable driving position, even with the base seats. The optional power driver seat offers more adjustments, though. Even the base models get plenty of creature comforts as standard.


Quality

While the Hyundai Elantra remains a budget car, designers have put in quite an effort to make it punch above its class. The materials used in the cabin are average, but appear substantial — okay, some of them are rather hard, but you won't find poor quality surfaces in the Elantra. Ergonomics is satisfactory, with simple to use, high-quality controls, a rather intuitive center console, as well as well-placed and easy to read gauges. The Elantra Coupé features more thickly bolstered front seats than the sedan's that improve support during sporty driving. However, some users will find the seat cushion too firm.


Practicality

The Elantra Sedan and GT offer more space than one would expect from a compact car. Front legroom is ample, while headroom is good for occupants up to 6 feet tall, and just adequate for taller individuals. At the rear, the combination of generous legroom and shortage of headroom will leave tall adults confused, though. For a compact coupé, the two-door Elantra offers good rear headroom, however. As for cargo volume, the Elantra Sedan and Coupé provide a large trunk that can hold 14.8 cu ft of stuff, while the Elantra GT's hatchback shape allows for an impressive cargo area of 23 cu ft behind the rear seats.


Infotainment

The Elantra offers an available navigation system that is easy to use via a touchscreen thanks to the large virtual buttons and intuitive layout. The audio system is easier to use via the display too, rather than using its dedicated controls. Models equipped with the navigation system also feature Pandora radio. Range-topping Limited and Sport trims get a standard 4.3-inch touchscreen audio interface with Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice controls, and a rearview camera.

Efficiency

Models equipped with the standard 1.8-liter engine are the most economical, with EPA ratings of 32 mpg (28 city/38 highway) for the sedan with the automatic transmission (31 combined/27 city/37 highway with the manual gearbox). With the 2.0-liter engine and the manual transmission, the Elantra Sedan returns 28 mpg combined/24 city/34 highway (28 mpg combined/24 city/35 highway with the automatic). The Elantra GT and Elantra Coupé return slightly lower fuel economy ratings.


Equipment

All Hyundai Elantra base trim levels are well-equipped, particularly beginning with the 2014 model year. An entry-level 2014 Elantra Sedan SE packs standard features such as air-conditioning, cruise control, 15-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, full power accessories, a trip computer, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split folding rear seats, and a six-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio and USB/iPod interface. Equipment is more generous as you move up the range, but considering this is a budget sedan it's better to keep it simple and stick with base models — unless you find a good deal on a fully-loaded model.


Acquisition

The fifth-generation Hyundai Elantra was good value for money when it was new, and that's all the more true for models in the used market. At the time this article was written (January 2017), Hyundai still had in stock 2016 Elantra Sedan models (the final model year) starting from $18,085 (including destination) for the SE trim. That makes it about $1,500 cheaper than the base 2016 Honda Civic Sedan LX, but the latter is an all-new model. Upgrading to the 2.0-liter engine in the 2016 Elantra Sedan Sport results in a $21,085 starting price - a bit too much for a vehicle that has already been replaced. Expect discounts in the future, though.

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