Those who think compact cars are all cramped, uncomfortable econoboxes haven’t seen the 2020 Hyundai Elantra. Blurring the line between a compact and midsize sedan, the roomy Elantra rivals some larger cars for interior room and cargo space, yet its price remains firmly in the same camp as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra. Along with its stylish exterior and well-appointed interior, the Elantra continues to do what it has always done so well: offer value and features uncommon to the class, at a price that seems almost impossible. From its modern connectivity features to its advanced driver assist systems, the Elantra continues to put pressure on the competition, and give buyers not interested the compact crossover craze another viable option.
With the Elantra, even basic models are well-equipped, and upscale versions are positively luxurious. Plus, every Elantra comes standard with Hyundai’s excellent warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and 10 years/100,000 miles of powertrain protection.
What’s New for 2020?
For 2020, the Elantra drops its manual transmission option and gains a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) (Hyundai calls it the Smartstream Intelligent Variable Transmission, or IVT for short) resulting in a 2-miles-per-gallon improvement in fuel economy. The Elantra ECO gains the fuel-saving Idle Stop/Go feature, and the SE trim adds dual-zone automatic climate control, a 3.5-in mono cluster display, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning and forward-collision mitigation. See the 2020 Hyundai Elantra models for sale near you
What We Like
- High-end grown-up cabin with comfortable seats
- Smooth driving experience
- Long list of features
What We Don’t
- Styling not as radical as some
- No longer the inexpensive value leader it once was
- No hybrid or electric version
The 2020 Hyundai Elantra is offered with three engine options. Base-level SE, SEL, Value and upscale Limited models come with the sedan’s 147-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, which is offered with a new CVT. Fuel economy is 31 miles per gallon in the city and 41 mpg on the highway with the SE and 30 mpg city/40 mpg hwy on the SEL, Value Edition and Limited. The fuel-efficient Elantra Eco touts a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 128 hp. This model, which is only offered with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, gets 33 mpg city/41 mpg hwy.
The Sport trim is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine good for 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Also equipped with the 7-speed automatic, fuel economy figures are a respectable 26 mpg city/33 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The latest Hyundai Elantra is offered in six trim levels: SE, SEL, Value, fuel-efficient Eco, Sport and upscale Limited.
The base-level SE ($19,880) comes standard with air conditioning, a 6-speaker sound system, power accessories (windows, mirrors and locks), a 60/40 split-folding back seat, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls, a 5-in color touchscreen radio with rear backup camera and six speakers. Also standard are cruise control, dual zone automatic climate control, forward-collision mitigation, lane-keeping assist and a driver attention warning system.
The SEL ($20,630) adds 16-in alloy wheels, a 7-in touchscreen radio with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, 4-wheel disc brakes, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, lane-departure warning, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Value ($21,530) adds a power sunroof, LED daytime running lights, a hands-free power trunk opener, heated front seats, proximity key with push-button start and dual illuminated vanity mirrors.
The Eco ($22,180) builds on the Value but substitutes a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, unique 15-in alloy wheels and a unique 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The Sport ($24,730) gains a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, 18-in alloy wheels, multilink rear suspension, sport tuned suspension, a sport front grille, a sport rear diffuser, a power sunroof, LED headlights, leather sport front seats, sport instrument gauge cluster, a hands-free smart trunk release and a black headliner.
Topping the range is the Limited ($23,730), which adds 17-in alloy wheels, leather seats, a 7-in touchscreen audio system, a Qi wireless charging pad, an 8-speaker Infinity sound system, a power driver’s seat with lumbar support, auto high-beam assist, Blue Link Connected services plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
Optional on the Sport is the Premium package ($2,050) that adds navigation with an 8-in touchscreen, an 8-speaker Infinity audio system, the full Blue Link suite of service for three years.
Optional on the Limited is the Ultimate Package ($3,350), which adds a power sunroof, an 8-in center touchscreen, navigation, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control and driver memory settings.
Standard safety features on all models are anti-lock brakes, side-curtain airbags and traction control with stability control, forward-collision mitigation, lane-keeping assist, driver attention monitor and a backup camera. Higher trims add rear cross-traffic alert system and blind spot monitoring, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection.
In government crash test, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Elantra a 4-star rating overall, but with a safety concern warning for the rear-seat passenger in the side impact test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Elantra excellent marks in all crash tests and awarded it a Top Safety Pick+ award.
Behind the Wheel
On the road, the Elantra with the base 2.0-liter engine is a mixed bag. Acceleration is only mediocre, as some rivals offer up to 40 more hp. While ride quality, handling and steering are all good, they’re not great, and the Elantra lags behind some more engaging rivals such as the Mazda3 and the latest Honda Civic. Things improve greatly with the 201-hp Sport trim, but that requires an additional couple thousand dollars over the SEL and Value trims.
Overall, however, the Elantra feels a lot more substantial than it really is, mating more mature road manners with its more mature design. It also touts well-shaped seats, predictable handling and a soft, comfortable ride. But it doesn’t stand out as especially fun or exciting to drive. Then again, we suspect most compact car shoppers aren’t looking for a lot of excitement behind the wheel.
As for equipment, we found everything to be well-labeled, easy-to-use and appropriately laid out. The infotainment system is easy-to-use and quick to respond, and we like the fact that it’s easy to get the Elantra with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Our only gripe was that we found the Elantra’s optional lane-keeping assist system to be a little aggressive compared to other systems.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Honda Civic — The Honda Civic is the gold standard for this class, offering an excellent interior, a lot of new equipment, fuel-efficient engines and passenger room galore.
2020 Mazda3 — The Mazda3 is among our favorite compact cars, as it offers sharp handling, sharp styling, excellent fuel economy and a lot of the Elantra’s gadgets, plus available AWD.
2020 Toyota Corolla — The Corolla is all new this year, with a sportier feel, more interior room and the same long-lasting durability. Every Corolla also comes standard with a precollision system, lane-departure warning, auto high beams and adaptive cruise control. There’s also a hybrid model this year.
Used Hyundai Sonata — If you like the Elantra’s equipment and styling but need more space, you should consider a used version of the brand’s midsize Sonata sedan, which feels like a larger version of the Elantra.
Picking the best Elantra is hard, but we’d go with the Elantra SEL or Value. Affordable and well-equipped, they are the best values in this lineup. Find a Hyundai Elantra for sale