2010 Hyundai Elantra Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 5, 2011

Pros

  • Lots of standard features for the money
  • Long warranty coverage, higher owner satisfaction
  • Sporty Elantra Touring SE model speaks with a German accent

Cons

  • Sedan's dreary styling
  • Manual transmission is a chore to shift
  • Air conditioning is a pricey extra on the entry-level sedan

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2010 Hyundai Elantra Buying Advice

The 2010 Hyundai Elantra is the best car for you if you want a Toyota Corolla driving experience without paying Toyota Corolla prices.

Substitute “Volkswagen Jetta” for “Toyota Corolla” and you have the sparkling 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring SE model. The Touring is the handsome four-door wagon companion to the dowdy 2010 Hyundai Elantra four-door sedan. Any 2010 Elantra is a strong value, however. Starting under $14,900, even the least-expensive version, the new-for-2010 “Blue” sedan, is packed with standard features that surprise in this price range, including heated power mirrors, remote keyless entry, and power windows and locks. Part of Hyundai’s fuel-efficiency initiative, the Blue sedan is rated at 35 mpg on the highway. Too bad Hyundai forces you to pop for a $1,700 option package if you want your Blue with air conditioning or a radio. Still, even that sort of sticker-diddling can’t sour Elantra’s value appeal, especially when a loaded Touring SE wagon comes in under $21,000.

Should you buy a 2010 Hyundai Elantra or wait for the 2011 Hyundai Elantra? Buy a 2010 model, especially if you’re interested in the sedan. The 2012 Elantra sedan will leave behind today’s competent but unexciting engineering and graduate to a version of the European-bred chassis that underpins the Elantra Touring wagon. That means the 2011 Elantra sedan will be a lame duck with soon-to-expire looks. The Touring won’t be replaced until after 2012. It joined the lineup for model-year 2009, and though it represents only about 15 percent of Elantra sales, it’s a hip 15 percent. If you’re turned on by the Touring, you’ll not be shortchanged by going for a 2010 or 2011 version. Any Elantra you choose will be covered by Hyundai’s strong warranty: 5-years/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper, 10/100,000 powertrain, and 5/unlimited roadside assistance.

2010 Hyundai Elantra Changes back to top

Styling: The 2010 Hyundai Elantra styling changes are slight and confined to the sedan model. It gets a slightly revised grille and a slash of chrome trim on the trunklid. The 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring wagon carries over visually unchanged, though it does add a lower-priced new base model. The current-generation Elantra sedan was introduced for 2007. Come model-year 2012, it will get all-new sheet metal to go along with its new engineering. The Elantra Touring wagon was essentially plucked from this South Korean automaker’s European lineup, where it sells as the Hyundai i30, a car designed to satisfy demanding German drivers. The Touring wears a sleeker skin than the sedan and has a trendy, big-mouth grille and taillamps that climb the rear roof pillars, Volvo-like. Image-conscious Hyundai insists the Touring is a five-door hatchback. But it shouldn’t be embarrassed to admit the Touring is a four-door wagon – and an exceptionally roomy one at that: its 65.3-cubic-feet of cargo volume with the rear seats folded shames many midsize wagons and matches some compact SUVs. In fact, both the 2010 Elantra sedan and Touring wagon are among the compact-class leaders for passenger space. They benefit from some of the longest wheelbases in the category – 104.3 inches for the Elantra sedan, 106.3 for the Touring. Wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear axles and largely determines how much of a car’s structure is available for cabin space. There are few styling distinctions between the 2010 Hyundai Elantra sedan’s three models: Blue, GLS, and SE. The Blue edition’s body does get some “blue” insignia and the SE can be identified by its alloy wheels versus the other models’ 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers. The new 2010 Elantra Touring model is labeled GLS. The carryover 2010 Touring SE model has 17-inch alloy wheels, plus roof cargo rails that are optional on the Touring GLS.

Mechanical: The 2010 Hyundai Elantra’s main mechanical changes are the fuel-saving “Blue” tricks shared by all the sedan models. The spearhead is the 2010 Elantra Blue sedan. It’s part of Hyundai’s “Blue” campaign to tweak specific models for maximum fuel economy (the subcompact 2010 Hyundai Accent also gains a Blue edition). Every 2010 Hyundai Elantra sedan and Touring model has 138-horsepower dual-overhead-cam 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. But only the sedans get the Blue treatment. This includes alternator management that results in less engine drag, lower friction engine components, revised transmission gear ratios, and engine calibration changes. The 2010 Elantra Blue sedan is limited to a five-speed manual transmission fitted with special fuel-saving gear ratios (and an instrument panel light to indicate when it’s most efficient to change gears). Hyundai says the 2010 Elantra Blue sedan improves fuel economy by 8 percent in the city and 6 percent on the highway compared to a 2009 manual-transmission Elantra sedan without the Blue treatment. The 2010 Elantra GLS and SE sedans come only with a four-speed automatic transmission, but it gains a revised lock-up torque converter to maximize fuel economy at highway speeds. Hyundai claims fuel-economy increases of up to 4 percent over previous automatic-transmission Elantra sedans. As for the 2010 Elantra Touring, both the GLS and SE models are available with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic; fuel-economy ratings are unchanged from 2009. Every Elantra has a fully independent suspension. And like all cars in this class, they’re based on a front-wheel drive design. That puts the weight of the engine over the tires that power the car. Front-wheel drive benefits component packaging and traction on slippery surfaces. But it isn’t optimal for sporty handling. Rear-wheel-drive cars better distribute the powertrain’s weight front to rear, and they don’t require the front tires to propel the car and steer it at the same time.

Features: The 2010 Hyundai Elantra competes with the lower-priced cars in the compact segment, and though it can be outfitted with heated front seats and other upscale items, some amenities aren’t available. These include leather upholstery, but the most conspicuous omission is a navigation system, a gadget increasingly common in similarly priced small cars. That’s not to suggest Elantra skimps on features. To the contrary, even the entry-level Blue sedan comes with a height-adjustable driver’s seat and split folding rear seatbacks -- plus the aforementioned heated power mirrors, remote keyless entry, and power windows and locks. Safety equipment standard on every 2010 Hyundai Elantra sedan and 2010 Elantra Touring wagon includes four-wheel disc brakes with antilock control to combat skidding in emergency stops. The SE sedan and both of the Touring models add a trio of additional safety features: traction control for better-managed starts; brake assist that automatically applies full stopping power in emergencies if the driver fails to fully depress the brake pedal; and an antiskid system. Also known as electronic stability control, an antiskid system modulates engine power and individual brakes to mitigate sideways slides. Optional on the Blue sedan and standard on all other 2010 Elantras is a satellite-radio-ready audio system that includes USB and auxiliary-jack links for iPods. A power sunroof is standard on the Touring SE and optional on other Elantra models except the Blue sedan.

2010 Hyundai Elantra Test Drive back to top

From behind the wheel:  Elantra’s got a dual personality. The sedan is calm and collected. It steers with a pleasant lightness and corners with good balance. It’s sportier than the Toyota Corolla, but not as athletic as a Honda Civic or Mazda 3 sedan. Those cars cost more, however. And no compact sedan priced similarly to the Elantra feels more solid on the road.
The Elantra Touring clamors for curves. Its steering is meaty and direct. The SE version’s sport suspension and 17-inch tires get this wagon through turns with élan. Among Japanese rivals that offer sport-tuned hatchback or wagon body styles, the Mazda 3 and Subaru Impreza corner with more grip and less body lean than the Elantra Touring. But they cost more, too. The Elantra Touring SE in particular entertains with handling a serious driver can exploit everyday, without exceeding the speed limit. Clearly, someone in Seoul’s been studying the Volkswagen Jetta.

Elantra’s story is more prosaic beneath the hood. Sedan or Touring, acceleration is no better than in other compacts with similar horsepower. Elantra’s four-cylinder engine does have juice enough to get you through town and up the on-ramp with little drama. That’s to its credit, because it’s harnessed to an automatic transmission that’s behind the times with just four speeds – top competitors have five. And it’s saddled with a manual transmission that suffers long throws and some notchy engagement; even the Touring’s B&M linkage must be sweet-talked into some gears. 

Dashboard and controls:  Elantra’s gimmick-free layout is a reprieve from many of today’s over-designed dashboards. It suffers no multidimensional surfaces, no deeply tunneled gauges, not too many switches. Rather, it has an upright instrument panel that situates simple, round gauges directly before the driver. Audio and climate controls are generously sized, obviously described, and placed within easy reach.

Elantra’s steering wheel is a sensible three-spoker that invites you to curl your thumbs at the nine and three positions. The available leather-wrapped wheel feels downright rich and its audio and cruise control buttons are big and useful. In fact, just about everything in here feels more substantial than Elantra’s pricing leads you to expect. True, only the interior surfaces you come in contact with everyday are padded. But rap a knuckle on most any cabin panel. It won’t ring hollow.

Letdowns? Hyundai displays trip info, audio settings, time of day, outside temperature, and other data with pale-blue characters and symbols on a soft-blue background. They’re difficult to read: definition is fuzzy and contrast is insufficient to overcome bright daylight or stand out through polarized sunglasses. And we won’t consider it quibbling to point out the manual-transmission shift knob has it backwards: it’s soft to the touch around its forward section, where it doesn’t need to be, and it’s covered in hard plastic around its rearward section, where your palm could use some cushioning as it cajoles the darn thing into gear.         

Room, comfort, and utility:  Doors open uncommonly wide to a cabin with terrific head room and plenty of shoulder clearance. Tall rooflines allow for chair-like seating that enhances already-excellent outward visibility. Rear passengers sit nicely upright, too, with knees bent at a natural angle and lots of space for their feet. The rear center armrest is hinged partway up the backrest to form an ergonomically perfect platform for your elbow. Unlike the nicely contoured front seats, however, Elantra’s rear-seat backrest has oddly segmented padding and feels lumpy.

Quiet passage over bumps and ruts is the rule. The Elantra sedan generally imitates the Toyota Corolla’s ability to absorb impacts, but with a welcome dose of extra control. The Elantra SE sedan and Touring models ride even better. Their slightly tauter sport-tuned suspension diminishes jounce and rebound on poor surfaces without adding any harshness.

Covered dashboard bins, a deep center console, door pockets shaped to hold liter bottles, and a shoe-box-sized glove compartment mean plenty of in-cabin storage. The Elantra sedan’s sizeable trunk is compromised by a stingy opening and luggage-crunching intrusion from U-shaped lid hinges. To carry lots of stuff in style, stick with the Touring. Besides SUV-rivaling volume with the rear seatbacks folded, it has 24.3 cubic feet of space with them up. There’s a warren of shallow cubbies beneath its wagon floor, and its open tailgate clears a 6-footer’s head. Unfortunately, neither body style’s rear seatbacks fold flat, so you get a partially tilted load floor.

2010 Hyundai Elantra Prices back to top

Base prices for the 2010 Hyundai Elantra range from $14,865 for the 2010 Elantra Blue edition sedan to $20,515 for the 2010 Elantra Touring SE with automatic transmission. (Prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Hyundai’s fee is $720 for 2010.)

In addition to features already noted, the 2010 Hyundai Elantra Blue sedan includes variable intermittent windshield wipers, a tachometer, tinted windows, two 12-volt power outlets, and a tilt steering wheel. If you want air conditioning, cruise control, or a radio, you’ll need the $1,700 Elantra Blue Comfort Package. This option gives the Blue the same audio system found in the other Elantras. It’s a six-speaker 172-watt satellite-radio-ready single-CD setup and includes the USB interface that recharges your iPod and displays its file data on the car’s radio screen.

The 2010 Hyundai Elantra GLS sedan has a base price of $17,615. This includes all the equipment of an Elantra Blue optioned with the Comfort Package and adds automatic transmission, fog lamps, cruise control, and dual front illuminated vanity mirrors with sunvisor extensions. The only option for the 2010 Elantra GLS sedan is a $900 power sunroof.

The 2010 Hyundai Elantra SE sedan’s base price is $18,565. It includes all the GLS sedan equipment, plus antiskid and traction control, 16-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned steering and suspension, a leather shift knob, telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, steering wheel audio controls, and a trip computer. The 2010 Elantra SE sedan’s only option is the $1,150 SE Premium Package, which adds a power sunroof and heated front seats.

The 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring GLS model is priced from $16,715 with manual transmission and from $17,915 with automatic. It basically mirrors the GLS sedan’s equipment while adding the traction and stability-control systems. The optional Popular Equipment Package for the 2010 Touring GLS model adds roof rails, a steering wheel that telescopes and has audio controls, a trip computer, and an eight-way driver’s seat with lumbar support. It also includes dual illuminated vanity mirrors, sliding sunvisors, seatback pockets, retractable cargo cover, fog lights, illuminated ignition, and a premium cloth interior with cloth door panel inserts.

The 2010 Elantra Touring SE is priced from $18,715 with manual transmission and from $20,515 with automatic. This is the sportiest Elantra model and has performance tuned suspension and steering. Its manual transmission comes with a special shift linkage supplied by B&M Racing, a maker of aftermarket performance equipment. The Touring SE adds all the equipment in the Touring GLS Popular Equipment Package plus a power sunroof with tilt and slide functions, heated front seats, leather steering wheel and shift knob, and 17-inch alloys with P215/45R17 tires.

2010 Hyundai Elantra Fuel Economy back to top

Hyundai’s Blue modifications result in fuel-economy estimates that are very competitive for the compact class. The 2010 Elantra Blue sedan is rated at 26/35 mpg (city/highway), though it’s limited to manual transmission. Even with automatic, the 2010 Elantra GLS and SE sedans rate a credible 26/34 mpg. That’s a 1-mpg boost in both city and highway compared to their 2009 counterparts and represents a fuel-efficiency gain of 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

The 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring models don’t get the Blue tweaks and their fuel economy is unchanged from 2009, remaining at 23/31 mpg with manual transmission, 23/30 with the automatic.

2010 Hyundai Elantra Safety and Reliability back to top

Government crash testing awards a maximum of five stars for occupant protection in frontal and side collisions (safecar.gov). Both the Hyundai Elantra sedan and Elantra Touring earn the full five stars for driver and passenger protection in frontal impacts. About 46 percent of compact cars tested earn five stars in this category. For driver and rear passenger protection in a side impact, the Elantra sedan and Touring earn four of five stars. About 53 percent of compact cars tested score five stars for protection of the driver or the rear passenger in side impacts.

In overall initial quality, as measured by problems reported during the first 90 days of ownership, the Hyundai brand is ranked slightly above average by J.D. Power and Associates, the leading automotive consumer-survey firm (jdpower.com).

The Hyundai Elantra is the top-ranked compact car for overall initial quality in the J.D. Power survey. Elantra owners awarded their car top marks for powertrain, design, and features.

For dependability, the Hyundai brand ranks about average in J.D. Power studies that measure problems experienced by original owners of three-year-old vehicles. The model-year 2006 Elantra was rated above average for overall dependability and rated among the best for body and interior dependability.

2010 Hyundai Elantra Release Date back to top

The 2010 Hyundai Elantra went on sale in September 2009, with the 2010 Elantra Touring GLS model set to launch slightly later in the year.

What's next for the 2010 Hyundai Elantra back to top

The 2011 Hyundai Elantra will likely be a carryover from the 2010 model, marking time until the all-new 2012 Elantra sedan arrives. The 2012 sedan will use a version today’s Euro-derived Touring/i30 platform and have all-new styling. Its dimensions won’t change much, but the body could pull cues from the flowing swoops and curves that will distinguish the redesigned 2011 Hyundai Sonata midsize sedan. Hyundai calls the look “fluidic sculpture.”

The 2012 Elantra will retain front-wheel drive and four-cylinder engines. The focus on fuel economy will intensify, though Hyundai could also enhance performance by making available its new 2.0-liter Theta turbocharged four. The Elantra Touring is locked into its current design until model-year 2013 or so, when it’s likely to be replaced by a small crossover-SUV-type wagon, perhaps with all-wheel drive and a turbo four.

On the hybrid front, Hyundai sells a gas-electric hybrid version of the Elantra in its South Korean homeland, but won’t offer the current-generation U.S. Elantra as a hybrid. Whether it’ll field a hybrid version of the redesigned 2012 Elantra sedan is unknown. The company is launching its U.S. hybrid initiative under the Blue Drive label with the next-generation of the Sonata, which is slated to arrive during 2010 as a 2011 model.

2010 Hyundai Elantra Competition back to top

2010 Honda Civic: Stretch your budget if you can; the Honda Civic is worth it. The 2010 Civic represents the final year of a design introduced for model-year 2006. But it’s still the most modern-looking compact car in the U.S. It’s arguably the best all-around mechanical package too, with sporty road manners, a roomy cabin, and range of fine four-cylinder engines that includes a 140-horsepower unit rated at 25/36 mpg with automatic transmission, a sporty 197-horse edition at 21/29, and a gas-electric hybrid at 40/45. Base prices for 2010 Civic sedans range from around $16,400 to around $25,000; the hybrid starts at $24,510. Civic will be all-new for model-year 2011.

2010 Toyota Corolla: The top choice in compact cars aimed at a conservative clientele. Corolla costs a bit more than Elantra. And it won’t be significantly quieter, have better interior materials, or deliver better driving manners. It will have superior resale value. Look to the Toyota Matrix, essentially a wagon version of the Corolla, for an alternative to the Elantra Touring. Corolla and Matrix offer four-cylinder engines of 132 and 158 horsepower, and the Matrix is available with all-wheel drive. Corolla fuel-economy tops out at 27/35 mpg and base prices range from $16,100-$20,700. Matrix tops out at 26/32 and starts around $17,000. The Corolla and Matrix were redesigned for model-year 2009 and won’t change significantly before model-year 2014.

2010 Ford Focus: This aging entry elbows Elantra for position in the compact-car bargain basement. The Focus sedan isn’t as roomy as its Elantra counterpart, and Focus casts for sporty types not with a wagon but with a two-door coupe. The Ford-exclusive Sync system that provides hands-free linking to a variety of iPod, cell-phone and satellite functions gives Focus a leg up with the connectivity crowd. Focus has 140-143 horsepower, fuel economy ratings of 24/35 with manual transmission, 24/33 with automatic, and a base price range of $15,700-$18,700. Today’s Focus was last revamped for model-year 2005 and Ford is set to replace it for the 2011 model year with the sportier, European-influenced four-door sedan and hatchback Focus.