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2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited Compact Sedan Review

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
May 15, 2014
7 min. Reading Time
2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited ・  Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited ・ Photo by Benjamin Hunting

The 2014 Hyundai Elantra proves that the Korean automaker hasn’t abandoned its compact car roots in an effort to better itself in the more premium segments of the automotive market.  Much has been made of full-size sedans like the Equus and the Genesis, and while they are deserving of attention it’s important not to forget the more humble Hyundai Elantra, whose refresh for the current model year underscores that the car has been holding the fort in the entry-level segment since its 2011 redesign. 

You would be hard pressed to determine that this little four-door’s platform is four years old, given how well it holds up face with newer competitors like the Chevrolet Cruze, the Toyota Corolla, and the Honda Civic, and while it might be outclassed by a few of the latest and greatest compacts out there, there’s no doubt that the 2014 Hyundai Elantra remains a strong choice in a highly competitive field.  This is especially true for value-focused shoppers seeking to stretch their budget and obtain as many features as they can for their money.

2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited Review: Models and Prices

The 2014 Hyundai Elantra is offered in a trio of trim levels, one of which has only just been added to the compact car’s stable.  The base Elantra SE (MSRP $17,200) takes over for the now-departed GLS trim and delivers a CD player, a folding rear seat, alloy rims of the increasingly-rare 15-inch variety, a trip computer, power windows and door locks, air conditioning, heated outside mirrors, satellite radio, and cruise control.  The mid-level Elantra Limited (MSRP $21,650) adds Bluetooth connectivity, a touchscreen audio interface that makes use of a 4.3-inch LCD screen, heated seats, a rearview camera, automatic headlights, 17-inch rims, LEDs surrounding the headlights, LED tail lights, fog lights, leather upholstery, heated seats for those riding in back, power adjustments for the driver, and Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system.  The new Sport (MSRP $21,700) trim maintains almost the same level of gear, subtracting the heated rear seats but adding a sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, and a stiffer suspension system to go with its exclusive engine. 

The vehicle I drove for a week was a 2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited featuring the Technology package, which kitted the car out further with a navigation system, a louder stereo, larger touchscreen, dual automatic climate control, and keyless entry and ignition.  Being a Canadian model, it also featured the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is available only with the Sport trim in the U.S., making it somewhat of a chimaera that was missing only the trick suspension of the Sport (plus the addition of a few extra tech features).  The total MSRP for my fully-loaded sedan came to $24,400.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited Review: Design

  • The 2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited has seen its visage and sheet metal freshened for the current model year.
  • The sedan’s dashboard has been subtly reorganized.
  • Some interior trim changes have been made.

The 2014 Hyundai Elantra is a sharp-looking car, and most likely the last of the ‘Fluidic Sculpture 1.0’ sheet metal updates that we’ll see from the brand now that its styling language is moving in a less curvy direction.  The Elantra’s profile is an inviting one, walking the line between sporty and respectable in the way that compact sedans never used to attempt, and it’s a successful marriage of identities that has attracted a wide range of buyers into Hyundai showrooms.  For 2014 the automaker has elected to emphasize the car’s front and rear fascias by way of a new diffuser at the back, LED tail lights, and great-looking LED lights housed alongside the vehicle’s headlights.  The 17-inch rims on the Limited trim make their debut as well and help to create an cohesive package for the Elantra.

Inside the changes are more modest, with the dashboard having been given a bit of a cleanup and a 4.3-inch touchscreen available on every trim level.  It’s nice to see Hyundai giving Elantra buyers the chance to fill the top of the center stack with a full-color display rather than simply defaulting to a single-line clock or some other such ghost of economy cars past.  There’s definitely a reliance on plastic throughout the sedan’s cabin, but it’s executed in a stylish manner that never feels utilitarian.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited Review: Comfort and Cargo

  • The 2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited has had its cabin more thoroughly sound-proofed.

The Hyundai Elantra had suffered criticism in the past regarding the level of road and traffic noise that it allowed to permeate its passenger compartment, particularly when traveling over rougher streets.  The 2014 edition of the Elantra addresses this issue head-on by way of a comprehensive sound-deadening effort, one which has seen not just extra padding stuffed under its carpets, behind its pillars, and in its door panels, but also the installation of an all-new carpet, dash plastics and heating ducts designed to absorb booms and rattles, a cover running the entire length of the Elantra’s underbody, and even a few sheet metal tweaks intended to quiet the wind.  Taken together, it’s a definite improvement, as the Hyundai never had its interior noise quotient rise to a boisterous level during our time together.

It would be a stretch to call the Hyundai Elantra Limited a luxurious car, despite the presence of leather as well as heated front and rear seats (almost unheard of at the affordable compact level).  Nevertheless, it’s a car that feels sufficiently comfy to handle a long commute or even a road trip or two, with good seating position and room for riders no matter where they might be sitting.  I was also able to stuff its trunk full of plants, pots, and bags of soil as part of a Home Depot run and still have room left over to spare, which bodes well for suitcase and grocery transportation.  Another small change: Hyundai has raised the center armrest/console lid for 2014, which makes for better support but maintains the same latch placement, which now has it sitting comically low compared to the top of the console.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited Review: Features and Controls

  • The 2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited makes only subtle changes to its control surfaces.

The 2014 Hyundai Elantra presents an uncomplicated set of controls to the driver and front passenger, relying on a simple array of buttons and a single dial for its climate control system, which is in turn nestled underneath a similar arrangement for the stereo.  The upgraded LCD touchscreen in my test vehicle was easy to read and offered logic for its navigation and entertainment features that I had no trouble understanding.  It was also quick to set up my mobile phone for use with the car’s Bluetooth system.

The gauges in front of the driver consist of a two large binnacles, one housing the tachometer and the other the speedometer, with a basic LCD display sandwiched between them.  The latter offers digital readouts for engine temperature and fuel level, along with gear position when the car’s automatic transmission was set to manual mode, and the Elantra’s odometer.  Unlike some higher end models from more prestigious automakers, the Hyundai voice control system had no problems understanding my commands or parsing my phone’s address book while underway.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited Review: Safety and Ratings

  • The 2014 Hyundai Elantra introduces hill-start assistance.
  • The Blue Link telematics system is now standard with the Limited trim.

The 2014 Hyundai Elantra comes with side curtain airbags that run along the entire length of the passenger compartment, dual forward airbags, seat-mounted side airbags up front, and electronic traction control and stability control.  The Limited trim now features the Blue Link telematics system, which can contact first responders in the event of an accident as well as keep track of where the car ends up should it be stolen.  There aren’t any active safety features such as blind spot monitoring available with the Elantra, which reveals the age of its platform more than any other characteristic: this type of gear is fast becoming a necessity on the options list of a compact car.

2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited Crash Test Ratings:  The Hyundai Elantra has been granted Top Safety Pick status by the IIHS after scoring ‘Acceptable’ or ‘Good’ in each of that organization’s necessary crash tests.  The NHTSA has awarded the Elantra a five out of five possible stars for crash test safety.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited Review: Engines and Fuel Economy

  • The 2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited gains a new direct-injected engine available only with the Sport trim.

The 2014 Hyundai Elantra starts out with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that is good for 145 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque, along with a fuel efficiency rating of 28-mpg around town and 38-mpg on the highway.  New for 2014 is a 173 horsepower four-cylinder that is found in the U.S. exclusively under the hood of the Elantra Sport.  Hailing from the same ‘Nu’ family as the 1.8-liter, but punched out to 2.0-liters and with the added wrinkle of direct fuel injection this unit also produces 154 lb-ft of twist without giving up much in the way of mileage (24-mpg city / 34-mpg highway).  A six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission can be mated to either engine.  I found my fuel mileage to be in keeping with EPA estimates during my time with the sedan. 

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited Review: Driving Impressions

The 2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited presents a nice balance between a nimble around-town demeanor and a composed ride that makes the car feel as though it’s bigger than it really is.  Suspension tuning in the Limited trim leans towards absorbing asphalt rather than transmitting it through the steering wheel or chassis, which mutes road feel while preserving poise.  The Elantra Limited’s driver-selectable steering modes (Comfort, Normal, and Sport) are meant to provide varying degrees of resistance in order to accent the car’s character, but despite having been re-tuned for 2014 I didn’t see any advantage when pushing the car while in Sport mode – yes, there’s a heavier wheel, but there’s no real return on handling as a result.  I have no issue with this state of affairs, as it is in keeping with the sedan’s mission of providing affordable daily transportation.  Few would expect the Hyundai to tackle anything other than occasional spirited driving.

Thrust from the 2.0-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder engine is excellent, and I was in fact surprised to see that the Hyundai Elantra would break traction in a straight line with the go-pedal on the floor.  Why Hyundai chooses to restrict this motor to the Sport trim in the U.S. I don’t understand, as it’s the perfect complement to the Limited’s luxury features.  The motor’s one downfall – and this is unfortunately common to many Hyundai automobiles – is refinement, or rather, lack thereof.  The four-cylinder simply doesn’t feel or sound as smooth as many of its contemporaries, a failing that is best illustrated by the slight shudder that can be detected through the brake pedal when automatic-equipped versions of the car (such as the one I drove) are idling at a stop light.

Still, this is a minor concern in what is otherwise a charming compact sedan.  As a system, the Hyundai Elantra works very well, standing taller than the term ‘appliance’ that is so often applied to inexpensive small vehicles yet not (in Limited trim, at least) punishing riders with a suspension system that superfluously sporty.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited Review: Final Thoughts

The 2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited is generously-equipped to the point where it’s hard to see why anyone would pinch pennies to stick with the SE trim level.  Even without the Technology package this a nice little car, and one that also happens to look a lot less boring than vehicles like the Corolla and the Civic.  With enough interior room to qualify as a mid-size vehicle by EPA standards, yet with the kind of easy-to-park footprint that urban dwellers crave, the Elantra is also something of a stealth family sedan for anyone who’s not interested in stepping up to the Sonata.

While the 2.0-liter engine I drove is only available in Sport trim on American models, it’s hard to understand why someone would spend cash on tighter suspension tuning for an economical commuter like this one.  Stick with the 1.8-liter that comes with the Elantra Limited and you’ll not only enjoy access to more features, but more than likely you’ll be just as happy as you would have been with the more powerful motor.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited Review: Pros and Cons

  • Attractive styling.
  • Significant level of standard equipment.
  • Two good four-cylinder engine choices.
  • Affordable pricing.
  • Heated rear seats.

  • Engines not as refined as those from competitors.
  • Most powerful motor only available with Sport trim.
  • Driver selectable steering system offers no real performance benefits.
  • Fuel mileage not as lofty as Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra, or Chevrolet Cruze.

Hyundai Canada supplied the vehicle for this review

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting


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