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Hyundai 2017 Elantra Review - Snow Birding In Florida By Thom Cannell

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One week with Hyundai 2017 Elantra
Snow Birding in Florida

By Thom Cannell
Senior Editor
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

In our original story published last February about the all-new 2017 Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai’s entry into the fiercely competitive compact marketplace inhabited by Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda 3, Honda Civic, and Toyota Corolla we concluded that the 2016 Elantra is a very good vehicle, one worthy consideration even if you’re a steadfast fan of another car. After a week driving an Elantra throughout the congestion of Fort Myers and other parts of Florida’s sunset coast we’re still fans, still convinced it’s a solid, righteous choice for a family sedan and as always we have a few tiny suggestions for what could be better.

Most important for most singles and families; Elantra is quiet and competent, fun to drive, and stuffed full of features you’d expect on a far more expensive car. You stop thinking “Wow, shiny!” or “love that new car smell” and observe things like comfortable seats, isolation from noisy traffic, quick and cold air conditioning, and instruments that are intuitive and easy to use. Elantra excels in these areas.

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Hyundai has built a reputation for delivering value beyond the price and the 2017 Elantra continues that tradition. Starting at $17,150 for the SE model, a car you’d be willing to drive, escalating through the Eco to the Limited we drove. At the top of the option list you’re financing a budget-saving $22,350, and that includes leather seats. Regardless the model you choose, Hyundai offers option packages with features like larger 7-8” audio/navigation displays, rear-view camera (it switches on nearly instantly), integration with iPhone’s CarPlay or Android’s Auto, and other desirables like LED daylight running lights, Blind Spot detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (think pulling out of parallel parking midst clueless pedestrians and drivers charging for a parking place) even hands-free smart trunk release. On our Limited the most pleasing option remained Infinity’s Clari-Fi music restoration system that filled in missing audio information from low quality sources like satellite radio and low resolution tracks from our iPhone.

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Limited model owners can opt-in the kinds of advanced technology expected on far more expensive cars, safety features like automatic emergency braking that detects pedestrians, Lane Keep Assist, and LED headlights that automatically bend into turns. We had most of the available technology and it worked transparently, thank you.

We picked up the car in an unfamiliar location at Fort Myer’s newly upgraded airport and (unexpected at this price!!!) bending headlamps clearly showed us pedestrians crossing streets as we negotiated our exit. Later, arriving at a condominium complex, walkers, dogs, and carport posts were easily avoided. Bending, or steerable headlights is a technology you don’t know you need until you’ve experienced it. There were other little things that put smiley’s on our face. For instance the wide opening doors, something you don't appreciate until you're injured or have a family member to assist into to a car.

One design feature we liked even more the second time around was the layered center console stack. There was one layer for HVAC, another for audio, a third for the navigation screen which made everything easy to find. With a week to spend testing we tried all available methods of entering navigation destinations, normally a frustrating experience even in 2016. We tried: voice entry and fingers-on-keyboard and concluded that fingers on keyboard worked best when entering complex or unusual street names. For simple streets, or where there’s no chance of same-sounding-name confusion, voice entry works very well.

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The west coast of Florida has LA/Boston-type traffic making the 2016 Elantra’s maneuverability and excellent steering response a big plus. The powertrain delivered solid acceleration, particularly when set to its Sport mode. While on multi-lane surface roads and freeways we flat out loved having blind spot detection. Hey, there’s some clueless and inattentive people driving, occasionally it’s us!

If asked how we would improve the car and its excellent chassis which delivers a very crisp, clean driving experience we’d say “different tires, please.” The Low Rolling Resistance tires were noisy on coarse Florida pavement, something we noted on the launch. They also lacked grip in the rain, even mist.

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Now for my Bullet Points:

The great and good:
* Powerful enough to satisfy, though no pretense to be a sports sedan.
*Delivers solid ‘fun to drive” in Sport mode, good family performance in Normal mode, Eco mode feels anemic while it maximizes fuel economy.
*Feature laden beyond expectations, for instance the Infinity Clari Fi audio system and side-bending headlamps.

Needs improvement:

* Low Rolling Resistance tires are a weak point due to noise and lack of wet weather grip.

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