2021 Hyundai Elantra Review

All-new for 2021, this compact sedan raises the bar in styling, technology, and appointments.

3 months ago
Warren Clarke
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Outstanding warranty coverage
  • Upscale amenities for the price
  • Attractive styling
  • Base engine provides adequate power, not exciting
  • Turbocharged engine only offer with sport suspension

The 2021 Hyundai Elantra is a compact five-passenger economy sedan that was completely redesigned for the 2021 model year. Hyundai has established itself as a brand for buyers who prize quality, value, and long warranties. The new, seventh-generation, Elantra exemplifies these strengths — the sedan will fit the bill if you’re looking for a small car that’s easy on the pocketbook and universally competent. The starting price for a 2021 Hyundai Elantra is $19,500.

Elantra Exterior

Relative to the outgoing model, the 2021 Elantra rides on a new platform that has a longer wheelbase, a lower roofline and a wider stance. A growing number of sedans have adopted a coupe-like roofline as a design cue, and the 2021 Elantra joins this list. Its flowing roofline and muscular side panels give the car a taut, athletic profile. Chiseled character lines etch the hood, fanning upward from a baroque grille and devilishly upswept headlights. The Elantra takes a few risks with its extroverted exterior styling, and by and large, they pay off.

Base models ride on 15-inch alloy wheels and come with automatic halogen projector-beam headlights and LED daytime running lights. Power-adjustable side mirrors are also standard. The list of optional exterior equipment includes heated side mirrors, larger wheels and a sunroof. 

Elantra Interior

The Elantra’s cabin appears contemporary from top to bottom. We like the center stack’s asymmetrical, driver-focused design, and we’re fans of the way the air vents blend seamlessly with the metallic accents lining the dash. In front, a standard 8-inch touchscreen helps the driver interact with the Elantra. 

As mentioned, the 2021 Elantra rides on a longer wheelbase than the previous model. This reaps big benefits in rear-seat legroom — the 2021 Elantra’s legroom surpasses that of the 2020 model by just over 2 inches. In general, the cabin is spacious and comfortable. 

In back, this small Hyundai sedan provides 14.2 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s rather generous for this class, and it’s more than you’ll get with rivals such as the Toyota Corolla. 

The Elantra is available with luxurious convenience features to coddle you during your travels. Wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone integration is standard. Options such as heated and ventilated front seats and a wireless device charger are offered. And you may upgrade from the standard touchscreen to a larger 10.25-inch version. 

2021 Hyundai Elantra

Elantra Powertrain

The 2021 Elantra gives buyers a choice of two gas-powered engines. Base models are equipped with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (147 hp/132 lb-ft of torque). This powerplant comes with an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Elantra N Line steps things up with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine (201 hp/195 lb-ft of torque). It is available with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. All Elantra sedans are front-wheel drive. 

Hyundai’s Elantra uses regular unleaded gasoline. According to EPA estimates, this sedan achieves mileage of up to 37 mpg combined with the 2.0-liter engine. With the 1.6-liter powerplant, mileage tops out at 31 mpg combined. Those numbers make this Hyundai one of the most fuel-efficient picks in its class. 

2021 Hyundai Elantra

Elantra Driving Experience

The Elantra’s performance ranges from adequate to engaging, depending on which engine you choose. 

This Hyundai’s base engine gets the job done, and it provides sufficient juice for passing maneuvers and merging at high speed on the freeway. The suspension that comes with this powerplant does an impressive job of insulating passengers from bumps and jolts. 

The optional engine offers a bit more sizzle and enough muscle to bring genuine excitement to your daily commute — the additional torque provided by the turbocharger is welcomed. This engine is paired with a sport-tuned suspension that heightens the car’s responsiveness. Keep in mind, though, that this tauter suspension may take a toll on ride comfort. We noted that potholes and ruts on the road were more readily felt within the cabin. 

2021 Hyundai Elantra

2021 Hyundai Elantra Trim Levels and Pricing

The Elantra’s pricing kicks off at around $19,500. That’s great value when you consider the Elantra’s long list of standard features. Hyundai sells this compact sedan in four trims: 

  • SE (starts at about $19,500) – This is the Elantra’s base model. It comes with features such as automatic projector-beam headlights, a chrome front grille, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, power-adjustable side mirrors and 15-inch alloy wheels. 
  • SEL (starts at around $21,000) – Comes with amenities as 16-inch wheels, keyless entry and ignition, satellite radio and dual-zone automatic climate control. 
  • N Line (starts at around $25,000) – Adds a sport-tuned suspension, a more powerful engine and unique styling cues. 
  • Limited (starts at about $25,500) – Brings in features such as customizable ambient interior lighting, Hyundai’s Digital Key, wireless device charging and a Bose stereo. 

Hyundai also offers a hybrid variant of the Elantra. That model starts at around $23,500, and it’s reviewed separately. Also, know that a special high-performance variant, known as the Elantra N, is in the works. It’s expected to be released later this year, possibly as a 2022 model. 

If you are looking for a more accurate idea of pricing, you can build and price an Elantra on Hyundai’s official web site.

Elantra’s Best Features

The Elantra is available with an upscale feature that’s typically seen only on luxury cars. The automaker calls this amenity Hyundai Digital Key, and it allows you to use your Android smartphone to control the Elantra remotely. Hyundai Digital Key can be used to start or stop your engine, lock or inlock your doors, turn panic mode on or off, or open your trunk, all without the presence of a key fob. 

Another great feature of the 2021 Elantra is exceptional fuel economy — it is one of the most fuel-efficient picks in its segment. This makes the Elantra a smart choice if you do lots of driving and want to save money on gas.

Finally, we’re also impressed with the Elantra’s warranty – 10 years/100,000 miles on the powertrain, 10 years on the hybrid battery. Hyundai’s warranty coverage is among the best in this segment. 

2021 Hyundai Elantra

What Is Our Favorite Version of the Elantra?

For most buyers, the midlevel SEL trim will represent the most appealing proposition. It costs just $1,500 more than the base model, and it brings in useful features such as keyless entry and ignition, larger wheels, and dual-zone automatic climate control. We feel this trim is an excellent example of the Elantra’s commitment to providing outstanding value. 

Elantra’s Notable Safety Features

One safety feature that sets the Elantra apart is its safe exit warning. This amenity will let your rear passengers know if they’re about to exit the vehicle into oncoming traffic, and it’s standard on all models. 

The Elantra comes with a host of additional safety technology. Blind-spot warning is standard, and this feature will alert you if you’re about to make an unsafe lane change. The list of standard safety tech also includes forward collision mitigation and lane-keeping assist. And all models are equipped with a drowsy driver monitor that will alert you if sensors detect that you’re driving while fatigued or distracted. 

The redesigned 2021 Elantra hasn’t yet been crash-tested by the IIHS and NHTSA. 

2021 Hyundai Elantra

Who Should Buy a 2021 Hyundai Elantra?

The 2021 Elantra is a great choice for price-conscious shoppers who want a budget-friendly car that doesn’t sacrifice quality and feature content. Its affordable pricing and upscale range of amenities make the Elantra a great choice for those who want luxury-car features without the luxury-car price. And thanks to its roomy rear seat, comfortable ride quality and relatively large trunk, the Elantra has the goods to serve as capable transportation for small families in need of a daily driver.  

2021 Hyundai Elantra

CarExpert’s Take on the 2021 Hyundai Elantra 

The Elantra is positioned between the Accent and the Sonata in Hyundai’s sedan lineup, and it’s a great choice for those seeking a car that’s compact enough to be easily navigable in the city yet big enough to be a practical choice for small families. This Hyundai comes with upscale features such as an amenity that allows you to access the car using just your smartphone. It also stands out for being one of the most fuel-efficient picks in its class, and it provides warranty coverage that will give you peace of mind. The 2021 Hyundai Elantra is a smart option for drivers seeking a small car that’s both economically priced and pleasantly upscale. 

2021 Hyundai Elantra Review

Elantra Competitors to Consider

  • Honda Civic
  • Kia Forte
  • Nissan Sentra
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Subaru Impreza
  • Volkswagen Jetta


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Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 8.5
Ride Comfort 8.2
Safety 8.2
Fit for Purpose 8.6
Handling Dynamics 8.4
Interior Practicality and Space 8.5
Fuel Efficiency 8.8
Value for Money 9.2
Performance 8.6
Technology Infotainment 8.3