The 2011 Detroit Motor Show this last week revealed a lot of future vehicles and the futures of manufacturers. As the fastest growing automotive company in the market last year, Hyundai is not sitting around on their profits. They have revealed their new slogan, "New Thinking. New Possibilities." and a new 2012 three-door coupe named "Veloster."
In recent years, Hyundai has certainly made great strides in quality and modern design- Sonata being the most dramatic example. They have also released a new BMW 7-Series and Audi A8 fighter called an Equus.
But do not skip past the all-new 2011 Elantra sedan. Taking the stylish lines of the Sonata, the new Elantra is a step up from an already high-value and reliable compact car that has sold very well in California. I saw this fifth-generation Elantra in November for the LA Auto Show where its refined interior was noticeable.
All the switches and handles feel engineered for long-lasting ware and the materials are softer and better fitting than even some Japanese competition. Outside sheet metal shows Hyundai's "Fluidic Sculpture" design and improved aerodynamics. Although the Elantra has been adequate in style, this compact sedan now shines.
Mechanically, Elantra gets the new 1.8-liter DOHC D-CVVT (Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing) engine and Hyundai's own six-speed automatic transmission. Power is up to 148 hp which pulls the larger sedan fairly well. Fuel economy has been the one complaint consistent with Elantra owners and sent some buyers to the more expensive Hondas, Nissans, and Toyotas.
EPA estimates for the new powertrain is 40 mpg highway on all models with either the automatic or the manual. This is up to 18 percent over its predecessor and competes with the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.
As expected, there is a lot of standard equipment included on the Elantra such as VSM, ESC, TCS, ABS with Brake Assist and EBD. Let me translate: it has vehicle stability, traction, and braking controls through which a computer keeps the car straight and true in difficult traction situations. It also gets dual front airbags, dual front seat-mounted side-impact airbags, and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags. Rear seat passengers are better protected and more comfortable with the added rear seat legroom.
The AM/FM/XM® Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system with 6 speakers is cool but the optional air conditioning system is not so cool. With a starting price of $14,830, buyers have to add a "Popular Equipment Package" to get air conditioning, cruise control, telescopic steering wheel, solar glass, windshield shade band, and 16-inch steel wheels with covers! This adds $1,250 for the very things warm-climate owners demand. AC should be standard, if only for defrosting the windshield in the rain.
However, if price is not the issue, go ahead and add touch-screen navigation with backup camera, leather, and the 360 watt boast amp. The all-new Elantra can be loaded up to a sticker above $22k. Granted, this is still a lot of car for the money.
"Today, customers do not believe that expensive cars with unnecessary technology are premium," Euisun Chung, Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor said during a speech at the Detroit motor show. "Instead, they want their core needs fulfilled at an accessible price and with a car that exceeds their expectations; a car that reflects their values and the times in which they live."
If VP Chung is correct, the Elantra will continue to fit nicely into their West Coast market and may even catch the attention of East Coast compact sedan buyers. Regardless, this Korean giant is building the all-new Hyundai Elantra in Alabama and doing a fine job of it.