A New Sentimental Favorite: The 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited

Ten years ago, I wrote a glowing review of the then all-new 2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited. Three years ago, I put my money where my mouth was and bought one used for my grown son, who needed a reliable commuter car.

I don't regret either decision for a second, and I'm happy to say that the all-new 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited appears to be another truly remarkable small sedan.

The magic of the Elantra, I wrote a decade ago, was that it as as good as its big brother, the Hyundai Sonata---just smaller. And the 2021 Elantra is as good as the current generation Sonata. Just smaller.

Under the hood, it's Hyundai's 2.0-liter Smartstream four-cylinder. 147 horsepower will not set the world on fire. In fact, the 0-60 time of nine seconds is on the leisurely side even among small economy sedans these days, but the payoff comes in fuel economy---an EPA-estimated 31 city/41 highway.

The fit and finish and materials are all above-par for a small economy sedan, the ride and handling are better than expected.

The base price of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited is $25,450. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are a suite of advanced safety tech, 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation and a Bose premium audio system.

The white-faced gauges are a refreshing change. I find the radio interface, mimicking a Nixie clock a little too cute, but an informal poll in a couple of online groups finds a split opinion. Another automotive journalist says there's a function that changes the display buried in the touchscreen menus, but I couldn't find it. Anyway, a small point that wouldn't stop me from considering the car.

So back to price. The only extra-cost option was $155 for carpeted floor mats, so with $995 inland freight and handling, the as-tested price of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limted is $26,600.

That price is $2,500 less than the last Toyota Corolla I tested on the old TireKicker site about a year ago, and $1,300 less than the 2019 Mazda 3 sedan we compared against that year's Jetta. There's something to be said for all those small sedans. And that actually just makes the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited all the more special---standing out in a crowd and keeping money in your pocket.

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