According to Hyundai, the redesigned Elantra compact sedan will debut at the end of this year as a 2011 model. Its size will not have changed much (the new model is about an inch longer), but the differences will be clearly visible. Gone is the staid styling, replaced by heavily contoured body creases, a low sloped roofline, and an aggressive new front end. The overall package calls to mind a slightly smaller version of Hyundai's mid-size Sonata.
Pricing for North American customers hasn't been announced yet, but expect it to be a little higher than the outgoing model, which starts at around $14,000. Also uncertain is the fate of the five-door Elantra Touring hatchback. Released in 2009, this variant has been well received for its styling and equipment levels, but has sold in small numbers.
Nor have any details been released regarding the U.S.-bound Elantra's engine choices. The domestic Korean version (known as the Avante) uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that develops 140 horsepower. That's 20 percent less displacement than the current Elantra's four-cylinder, despite the same horsepower – all thanks to direct fuel injection. In the States, it's possible the 2011 Elantra may use Hyundai's new 200-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder (also direct-injected).
The Elantra and Avante are Hyundai's best sellers worldwide, recently topping 6,000,000 overall sales. More exciting styling and efficient powertrains will be important for the Elantra's continuing success, which Hyundai hopes will top 400,000 sales worldwide by 2012. About three-quarters of these are expected to be in the United States.