2021 Hyundai Elantra: Shouldn’t a Modern, Stylish, Tech-Filled Sedan Be Affordable, Too?

2021 Hyundai Elantra

The Hyundai Elantra is ever in your favor. 

When I see a Hyundai on the road I think, there’s a person who knows the secret. These cars are elegant and modernly styled, feature the latest technology and are well priced. That’s in addition to being fuel efficient and reliable. 

In the Hyundai Elantra, which was redesigned for the 2021, though, it’s almost as if Katniss Everdeen took her penchant for archery and designed a car to hit the bullseye. It’s not just on point with all the details drivers would want at a price that is on point, too, but it’s as if its design muse was the arrow itself. 

2021 Hyundai Elantra

A view of from the driver’s seat in the 2021 Hyundai Elantra shows the steering wheel with aluminum-framed lower sections. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The car’s lines and details are streamlined, inviting your eye to trace its arc from front to back. Arrow-like details start with the narrowed headlights and a spoiler at the bottom of the bumper. It continues with creases along the door panels that extend to the Elantra’s tail where the look is both chevron-like fletching and bow-anchoring nock, together: the trunk lid and the bumper extend out beyond the tail lights for a distinct arrow-like look.

Related: Hyundai Elantra vs. Mazda 3 : Economical Compact Sedan Wars

2021 Hyundai Elantra

The gear selector in the 2021 Hyundai Elantra. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Command Center Designed For Precision and Comfort 

Inside the cabin, the arrow-inflected design transitions to comfort and command. Everything you need is at your fingertips, comfortable seats adjust for tall or short drivers, and there’s plenty of headroom despite the coupe-like shape of this sedan. 

The command center is anchored by an infotainment system. In the top-of-the-line Limited model, this is a flat panel of glass that extends across the dashboard. The left side features the driver information screen and the right side displays the infotainment touch screen. On the SE and SEL models, the infotainment system is a stand-alone screen on the center dashboard. 

2021 Hyundai Elantra

Sport mode lights up the driver information screen in red in the 2021 Hyundai Elantra. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Command center options include wireless Qi phone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and two USB ports. There are controls on the steering wheel and the gear shift lever tucked into the center console next to a panel of buttons that allow you to select your drive, mode, camera view and engage the parking brake. 

One more fun and clever detail in the center console is the cup holder: It has a removable floor that can be flipped over to accommodate larger items. So, if your water bottle is too tall, just pull it out, turn it over and drop it back in to create a deeper cup holder. Also, you can take it out and wash it after a coffee spill. 

Related: Need a Little Adrenaline In Your Life? Hyundai’s New N Line Adds More Excitement to Some of Our Favorite Cars

2021 Hyundai Elantra

The driver information screen and the infotainment screen are included in a single pane of glass that spans the dash in the 2021 Hyundai Elantra. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Which Elantra Speaks to You: Gas, Hybrid or Performance?

Hyundai rolled out the updated design in three options: A conventional gas engine, a hybrid and the more powerful, performance-focused N Line. All three have the same new look on the outside, other than badges that identify the Hybrid and N Line models.

Inside the cabin and under the hood each edition takes on its own character: 

  • The conventional gas model has the lowest price tag, offering all the good stuff for about $25,000 (less if you opt for one of the less loaded models)
  • The hybrid aims for 54 MPG and is also nicely or fully loaded for $23,000 to $28,000
  • The N Line generates 201 horsepower and carries a price tag of about $25,000 ($24,000 if you go for a manual stick shift transmission) 

Related: Ask the Car Chick: Which are the Best Cars for a Teen, and Which Mid-Sized SUV Is the Best Family Car?

2021 Hyundai Elantra

Rear view of the Hyundai Elantra. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Hyundai Elantra Conventional Gas Engine: Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are Standard

The conventional gas engine model delivers a comfortable 147 horsepower and about 35 MPG from the 4-cylinder engine and adds some great features for its $19,600 starting price: Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto — yes, wireless, something you may not find in cars with 5x the price— driver assist and safety features including lane keep assist, blind spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beam headlights, an 8” touch screen infotainment system, a smart key and 3 years of free scheduled maintenance. Overall, Hyundai has loaded this car nicely for the price. Where it saves you money is in cloth seats, no sunroof and manual seat and climate controls. 

Upgrade to the SEL model ($20,900) and you’ll get automatic climate control, a push button starter and services like BlueLink and SiriusXM, as well as the option to purchase upgrades like the 10.25” touch screen system, digital key, 17” wheels and a power sunroof. 

The top-of-the-line Limited model ($25,450) includes every feature offered on the Elantra, then adds leather seats, enhanced voice recognition and enhanced park sensors.

2021 Hyundai Elantra

Door panels in the Hyundai Elantra model we test drove include unique wool-textured denim-like upholstery. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Hyundai Elantra Hybrid: Premium Details, Savings in the Long Run?

Fuel-saving hybrid technology is where Hyundai is making its mark, from hybrid to plug-in electric hybrids, electric vehicles and more. The Hybrid Elantra is one of the pieces in this puzzle. But how much savings does it offer, overall? It comes with a $2,650 price increase over the same model with a conventional gas engine and offers 50 MPG vs. 35 MPG. In theory, that adds up to about $255 in savings per year, or, about 10 y ears at average driving to realize a savings: 

  • 50 MPG/12K miles x 240 gallons at $2.50 = $600 per year 
  • 35 MPG/12K miles x 342 gallons at $2.50/gal = $855 per year

However, for drivers who drive long distances or have long daily hauls, such as ride share or delivery, the hybrid option could easily make sense. And, it’s a nice hedge against fluctuating gas prices.

2021 Hyundai Elantra

This graphic on the the infotainment screen shows who the Elantra Hybrid is generating and storing energy. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Get Your Adrenaline Pumping in the Hyundai Elantra N Line

Hyundai has been working on this one for a while, and we are really excited to see it finally come to market: A performance lineup. Called the N Line, named for Namyang, Korea, where Hyundai develops and tests its cars and SUVs and inspired by Nurburgring, Germany, the most vaunted track in the business, the N Line kicks off with the Elantra and Sonata, but soon, every model will have an N version. The Elantra N Line takes the horsepower up to 201, is available in a stick shift and only has one option: its price is $$24,000; automatic can be added for $1,100.

What We Love:

  • A 2.0 L 4-cylinder conventional gas engine available with 147HP that gets 37 MPG 
  • A 2.0 L 4-cylinder hybrid model with 139 HP and that gets an estimated 54 MPG (the Limited model, with larger wheels, is estimated at 50 MPG)
  • The exterior looks and feels modern
  • Lots of nice standard details including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Digital Key
  • Qi wireless charging
  • Lots of fun for the price
  • “Trim” packaging means pricing and options simple 
  • A model for every taste: conventional gas, hybrid, or performance 
  • A fun to drive stick shift in the N Line
  • 3 years complimentary maintenance, which is standard

It’s easy to see why Elantra has always been so popular; between being nicely priced, featuring up-to-the-minute technology and having a lot of premium details, it’s an easy choice for a budget-minded sedan buyer. And for those who want a car that hits the mark on cutting edge design and tech that is nearly impossible to find in any other car at this price, the Elantra is ever in your favor. 

A Girls Guide To Cars | 2021 Hyundai Elantra: Shouldn’t A Modern, Stylish, Tech-Filled Sedan Be Affordable, Too? - 2021 Hyundai Elantra Trims And Price

2021 Hyundai Elantra Trims and Price

Disclosure: I was Hyundai’s guest for this test drive. Travel—safely and responsibly done—and accommodations were provided, but all opinions are my own.

2021 Hyundai Elantra

The wide single pane glass screen, available in the Limited trim, extends from the left of the driver to the passenger’s side. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss