2023 Hyundai Elantra HEV Limited – Review by David Colman
An affordable winner in a very competitive category
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
The 2023 Elantra Hybrid will not overwhelm you with the output of its combined electric/gas engine. With just 139hp to tote 3,100lbs. of curb weight, the HEV we tested posts a sluggish power-to-weight ratio of 22.30 pounds per horsepower. Compare that figure to the other currently available Elantra variants. The base model non-Hybrid version makes 147hp, giving it a slightly improved power-to-weight ratio of 21.0 pounds per horsepower. But the clear leader in the Elantra line is the N model, with a turbocharged 276hp engine that leaves its brethren in the dust, posting a scintillating power-to-weight ratio of 11.23 pounds per horsepower.
So it should come as no surprise that the HEV, which is a non-plug-in Hybrid, is hard-pressed to keep up with the flow of traffic, especially when passing maneuvers are required. The 0-60mph sprint takes an agonizing 8.7 seconds. Given that the bore and stroke dimensions of the engine (72mm x 97mm) are biased in favor of torque production rather than top-end performance, it should come as no surprise that the HEV generates good initial grunt when you depress the accelerator. In fact, the Hybrid makes 195lb.-ft. of torque, so initial throttle response is strong, but the surge quickly peters out as the engine gains rpm. However, there is an upside to investing in an HEV Elantra, and the dividend comes in the form of superior mileage. In combined city/highway use, this Elantra returns a tidy 50MPG.
When it arrived in our driveway with a full tank of gas the onboard computer displayed a range of 530 miles, which is pretty reassuring in an age when most EVs are hard-pressed to make half that distance before stranding you. When I checked the Owner's Manual of the Elantra to find out how many gallons its tank held, I discovered the answer was "44.38 US quarts or 42 liters." So the next time you need to fill up your Elantra at Baskin Robbins, you'll know exactly how many "servings" to buy (further research determined that the HEV's gas tank holds 11.6 gallons).
For a compact sedan with a base price of just $30,265, the Hybrid Limited is surprisingly well-equipped and comfortable. The front seats are craftily tailored to look like they belong in a much more expensive vehicle. A striking blue illumination light runs across the entire length of the dashboard and provides a kind of disco vibe to the otherwise solemn black interior. A pair of 10.25-inch illuminated screens keep you advised of the most pertinent functions, with the screen in front of the driver dedicated to instrumentation, and the high-resolution touchscreen sprouting from the dash in charge of infotainment and navigation. Both the driver and front seat passenger are treated to 3-stage heated seats, though a heated steering wheel is notably absent. Instrument presentation varies according to the Drive Mode you have selected. Subdued blue means you're in Normal Mode, while flamboyant red indicates you've selected Sport Mode. When that red mist descends, the steering feedback tightens substantially, and the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission drops into a lower gear to give you the impression that you're covering more ground faster than before. Although you can drop the gearbox into full manual mode by displacing the stick shift lever to the left, it would have been more useful had Hyundai provided steering wheel paddles like the ones in the Tucson Hybrid.
Although you aren't likely to go BMW-hunting with the HEV, this platform still acquits itself with merit when the road gets twisty. With a set of Hankook Kinergy rubber at each corner (225/45/17) and a comparatively lightweight chassis (3,100lbs.), the Elantra is quick to respond to your steering commands, and endowed with enough grip from its Hankooks to get the back road job done with alacrity. For most of our Elantra week, it rained and rained and rained some more. The Hyundai proved to be a reliable, well-engineered foul weather family sedan. Notably, it offers enough flat floor storage room in the 14 cubic foot trunk to make grand touring for 4 a viable proposition. Add to that practicality and ambiance the incredible range of this Hybrid and you have an affordable winner in the very competitive low-price sedan sweepstakes.
2023 HYUNDAI ELANTRA HEV LIMITED
ENGINE: 1.6 liter inline 4 cylinder gas engine + electric motor
HORSEPOWER: 139hp (Combined)
TORQUE: 195lb.-ft. (Combined)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 49MPG City/52MPG Highway
BASE PRICE: $30,265
HYPES: Your Gas Station Will Never See You
GRIPES: Paddle Shifts and a Tachometer Please
STAR RATING: 8 Stars out of 10