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2011 Hyundai Elantra Review

2011 Hyundai Elantra (select to view enlarged photo)

SEE ALSO: Compare Specs, Prices and Reviews - Hyundai Buyers Guide

Special to The Auto Channel
by Marty Bernstein
AIADA Contributing Editor

Hyundai, the fastest growing auto brand in America, has set new records and built a significant reputation with a bevy of highly-acclaimed new models brought to market in the past two years. The parade of models began with the Genesis sedan, followed by the Genesis coupe, the Tucson SUV, the popular Sonata, and the luxurious Equus.

Will the streak continue? Hyundai recently unveiled its latest redesign - the newly redesigned fifth generation Elantra at the L.A. Auto Show. But even before the official unveiling, the auto press world was abuzz with the "leaked" bit of facts and information on Hyundai's newest vehicle, serving as a precursor to the reception the Elantra went on to receive at the show. Upon its formal release, the verdict was clear: Hyundai's streak is continuing, thanks to the new Elantra.

A week following its unveiling at the L.A. Auto Show, the Elantra was available for a test drive, an experience that exceeded expectations. Over straight highways, twists, curves, and turns on a variety of road surfaces, the Elantra proved itself to be a fun car to operate.

The 2011 Hyundai Elantra is a stylish, fluidic sculpture that promises 40 miles per gallon. As usual, Hyundai kept the decision-making process simple when offering Elantra trim levels; there are two models with just a few option packages. No matter which trim level is selected, customers can be sure they are receiving a good value at a fair price. The car's MSRP begins at $14,830 and tops out at $21,980. The GLS - potentially the most popular - fetches an MSRP of $17,630.

The new, lighter aluminum, 1.8 liter, 4-cylinder engine boasts a 148 hp engine with 131 lbs of torque coupled with a six-speed transmission. A manual transmission is also available for purists. During the test drive, the engine was smooth and had no discernible noise. At a couple of elevations and steep inclines it labored just a bit. Handling was confident, responsive, lively, and comfortable. Although designed to function as a compact car in Hyundai's lineup, the Elantra drove like a bigger midsize vehicle. The EPA agrees, and has classified it as a midsize vehicle.

The much-publicized EPA rating of 29/40 city/highway is not hype, but rather it's a fact. Even with some lead-footed driving, the five hour test drive fetched and impressive 37.8 mpg. Hyundai has presented a tall challenge to its competitors by promising four 2011 models with 40 mpg, and 50 mpg models coming by 2015. Hyundai plans to continue to achieve its stellar mileage figures utilizing traditional combustion engines, which represent a majority of today's auto market.

All-in-all, the Elantra is a car everyone can feel good about driving. It's arriving at dealers now. Check it out.