Hyundai is a company that has no problem messing with a good thing and that’s what it did with its hot-selling Elantra. Like the mid-size Sonata we reviewed here two weeks ago, the compact sedan gets several new design updates and features for 2014, but manages to keep pricing in line with the outgoing ride.
The version we tested was in top-spec’d Limited trim with the Technology package.
And unlike the base L, the GL, and the GLS models with the 1.8-litre MPI engines that are built in Montgomery, Alabama, my tester, equipped with the new 2.0-litre GDI engine, came from Ulsan, Korea (along with the Limited model below it).
Compared to the 1.8L which the 2.0L is based upon, the increase in torque is noticeable at low range and in particular at mid-range where there is a bit more oomph when making a quick highway pass manoeuvre or lane change.
On quick and pro-longed throttle stomps, the power feels nice and linear all the way up to its 7,000 rpm red line as it moves through the gears.
Similar to the 2014 Sonata, the Elantra also gets Hyundai’s Driver Selectable Steering Mode; the system allows the driver to adjust the Elantra’s steering response at any time, with a press of a button on the steering wheel, to suit road conditions or driver preference.
Comfort mode offers a greater ease of steering and is best suited, says Hyundai, for city driving and parking lot manoeuvres.
Sport mode, where I had it all the time, offers a more noticeable dynamic steering response for trips down those winding roads and for on-centre stability during higher-speed highway drives. Normal mode offers a bit of both worlds for all driving conditions.
Outside, the Elantra gets some noticeable updates which add to an already sporty profile (yes, I just called the Elantra sporty); those additions and changes included: at the rear, a slick-looking, two-tone difuser and LED tail lamps; up front, a more open lower grille with new fog lamps and projector headlights with LED accents.Our tester also featured chrome belt-line moulding, chrome door handles and newly-designed 17-inch alloy wheels with dark spoke inserts.
Inside, I preferred the toned-down look of the centre stack area with its darker finishes and its repositioned HVAC vents which are now high on the dash on either side of the 7.0-inch LCD touch-screen navigation screen.
Several of its controls have also been repositioned and simplified presenting a more refined look.I liked the update made to its centre armrest which has been slightly raised and improves comfort when not driving with both hands on the wheel (it slides forward, too).
I also noticed the crisper graphics and more user-friendly interfaces of its audio and navigation systems. My iPhone 5C sync’d up instantly in the Elantra and my music lists were easily accessible while Bluetooth worked with zero concerns.
Standard safety features on the 2014 Elantra include Hill-start Assist Control and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM). That VSM system manages its electronic stability control and the motor-driven power steering which helps the driver maintain control in slippery conditions or during fast cornering.
My top-trimmed tester, priced at $25,649, also included (take a breath): power windows and door locks; armrest storage bin; rear seat centre armrest with cup holders; trip computer; heated, power side-view mirrors; iPod, USB, auxillary connectivity; automatic headlamps; air conditioning; remote keyless entry with alarm system; cruise control; two-stage heated front seats and heated rear seats; steering wheel-mounted audio controls; tilt and telescoping steering column; rear-view camera; sun roof; deluxe door sill plates; hood insulator; six-way power-adjustable diver’s seat with lumbar support; sliding centre armrest; leather seating surfaces with leatherette door inserts; auto-dimming rear-view mirror with HomeLink; dual-zone climate control with CleanAir ionizer; integrated side-mirror turn signal repeaters; solar control glass; proximity keyless entry with push-button start; and a 360-watt AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 premium audio system with six speakers and an external amplifier.