First off, I like the new Elantra. It’s comfortable, economical and a good value. But each time I got behind the wheel I couldn’t help but slide into reveries about Elantras past. The first car review I ever wrote was for a 2016 Hyundai Elantra Value Edition. I had to go to a used car lot in Dallas to find an example. It wasn’t a press car, and my only experience behind the wheel of it was with a nervous young salesman in the passenger seat.
I got home to write the article and tried like hell. What came out was a 1,000-word goat-choker that included needless observations and a half-cocked confession about wanting to do very bad things in someone else’s car.
“Any time I find myself behind the wheel of a front-wheel-drive vehicle I’m not financially responsible for, I have to fight a bubbling urge to crank the wheel to one side, slip the gearbox into reverse, mash the brake and floorboard the accelerator. And when the brake pads begin groaning against the rotors, let off the brake and see if the car will do a shuddering, squealing and potentially smoky reverse-donut. This is a holdover from my adolescence when I drove an ’89 Cadillac Sedan Deville that was particularly good at this maneuver (gravel enhanced the effect). There was a sick satisfaction in making the fat, classy four-door do something so uncouth.”
I went on to insult the humble fifth-generation Elantra’s looks too. I think “ghastly” was the chosen adjective. Anyway, while driving this latest Elantra, my mind wandered back scanning over previous exposure to the Elantra. I found that it may be the car with which I have the most experience.
Way back in high school, I dated a young lady who drove a solid black third generation Elantra. I remember very little about the car other than losing my nerve during a bout of heavy petting in the gray confines of the back seat. At the proposition of terminating my virginity, I suddenly became very timid. What can I say? I was green and shy.
On the other hand, the 2019 Elantra’s back seat seems much roomier and even has an armrest that folds down. Hyundai has also improved the way the rear seats lean forward for access to the trunk. The front seats are wrapped in leather and offer heat for frigid mornings.
An eight inch touch screen in the dash controls the stereo and nav system which features Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Ahead of the gear selector, there’s a little cubby hole that with a built-in QI wireless charging pad. This is standard equipment on these cars. It even charges phones without broken screens.
The year after graduating from high school I found myself in junior college studying auto-body refinishing. I’d parted ways with the girl with the black Elantra and started dating other girls and their cars. I was surprised one day when my Nokia brick began jangling and her number appeared on the screen. She heard I was repairing cars and hoped I could help her out.
Someone had “keyed” her car. I agreed to look at it and maybe fix it. I remember being led to the back of the car to assess the damage. There, in all caps, “WHORE,” was scratched deliberately and with gusto through the paint down to the steel. I was struck with how well it was spaced on the decklid. Someone took their time. I asked why it happened and she gave me a withering glance that suggested further inquiry was unwelcome. In the end, I sanded and painted the obscenity out of existence.
Unlike the poor Value Edition I picked on in my first published review, the 2019 Elantra looks fully modern and not at all ghastly. In fact, for an economical car, it looks great. Hard body lines, LED lights and 17 inch alloy wheels all contribute the what must be the best looking Elantra to date. And, unlike my ex’s Elantra, I couldn’t find the word whore anywhere on the 2019’s body.
Fast forward a few years and another black third-gen Elantra drove into my life. This one was operated by the woman who would become the mother of my son and my wife. It was absurdly worn for the number of miles on it. A nervous previous owner picked the rubber steering wheel down to the steel. The same nervous owner worried a hole in the carpet with their heel.
During our protracted courtship, we were visiting a friend’s house. When we returned to her car the driver’s door had been caved in by a hit and run. After that, the window in that door never worked the same. It wasn’t long after that the little car gave up its little Korean ghost on the roadside.
Unlike my wife’s sad Elantra, the 2019 Elantra did not break down during my test. In fact, the 147 horsepower two-liter hummed along without a hiccup. A smooth shifting six-speed automatic sends power to the wheels. This car is not what you would call fast, but the ride is comfortable and interior noise levels are low for a car in this class. Hyundai claims this car gets 37 mpg on the highway. That’s pretty good for a roomy gas burner like this one.
Loads of standard features and Hyundai’s excellent warranty makes this car a good value at its base price of $22,600. Even with the added cost of the $3,350 for the Ultimate Package upgrade, $26,960 feels like a good price point given the comfort and features. Consider the added cost as an investment for the driver and passengers. Just know that if you buy one of these for your daughter, she may be at risk of falling for an over-educated, self-indulgent, under-employed, automotive journalist.