Hyundai Elantra: Best Car To Buy 2021 nominee

The redesigned 2021 Hyundai Elantra has a new platform, new technology, flashy exterior styling, and two new models—a Hybrid and the performance focused N-Line. The Elantra has long been one of the best bargains among compact sedans, but these additions give it some excitement as well and make it a worthy contender for our Best Car To Buy 2021 award.

Longer, wider, and lower than the outgoing compact, the seventh-generation Elantra looks sleeker and more planted. Styling went from pedestrian to loud, with a plethora of angular lines and an eye-catching grille. Though the new duds are flashy, the Elantra has not forgotten about its greatest strength: value. The Elantra extends its traditionally excellent value proposition even further in this redesign with the base SE model increasing only $350 over last year’s model to $20,645. The SEL ($21,895) and Limited ($26,445) follow that.

The Elantra’s available 10.3-inch digital gauge cluster and 10.3-inch touchscreen are usually only seen side-by-side in luxury cars. In an annoying packaging quirk, the wireless versions of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are only available with the smaller 8.0-inch standard screen found on the SE and SEL. Go figure.

The 2021 Elantra uses last year’s 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 147-horsepower and comes mated to an updated continuously variable transmission that powers the front wheels. The Elantra’s powertrain can feel a bit sluggish (especially on starts). However, the precise steering and suspension are quite good. Fuel economy ratings have also improved for 2021, up to 33 mpg city, 43 highway, 37 combined.

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line

New to the party are the Elantra Hybrid and Elantra N-Line, the former allowing you to travel more miles and the latter making the miles traveled more fun. The Elantra Hybrid is offered in both SEL ($25,545) and Limited ($29,095) models that represent a $2,650 premium over the gas versions. Fuel efficiency jumps to 53/56/54 mpg for the SEL Hybrid and 49/52/50 mpg in the heavier Limited Hybrid. Hybrid models come with a more advanced rear suspension, six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and an electric motor that alleviates some of the gas-only Elantra’s sluggishness. This results in a more efficient car that is also more fun to drive. 

The best one to drive is the Elantra N-Line (at least until the Elantra N arrives next year). It gets a more powerful 201-hp, 1.6-liter turbo-4 engine and either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic ($1,100). There are also upgrades to the suspension, brakes, and thanks to the new platform it’s lighter than last year’s model as well. The manual transmission is the one we’d choose—not just for the savings, but for the set of summer tires. The N-Line starts at $25,095 and is based on the Elantra SEL’s features. 

The Elantra’s comprehensive redesign augments the compact sedan’s strengths and the additional flavors expand its appeal. The Elantra’s a great deal, the Elantra Hybrid is super efficient, and the Elantra N-Line is the fun one. Even Goldilocks would be satisfied with these three options. 

Follow along as we crown The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy 2021 on Jan. 4, and reveal the best vehicles in 15 categories to help you choose the best cars, trucks, and SUVs. Vote for our annual Driver’s Choice awards and tell us what you think is best in every category. We'll also announce the winners from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports. 

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