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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Hyundai Elantra Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Hyundai Elantra Overview

A Stunning Compact at an Unbelievable Price

Theres a reason the Elantra is Hyundais best selling model and it can be summed up in three words: value, value and value. For those who find they must opt for a compact sedan, the Elantra offers a huge helping of styling and features that usually can only be found on cars costing twice as much. The Elantra is one standout automobile and for 2004, the list of goodies only gets longer.

The Elantra competes directly with such heavyweight favorites as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Ford Focus. This is not an easy crowd to run with, especially when you're relatively new to the field; but we think you'll find that the Elantra has more than enough tricks up its sleeve to impress even the most pessimistic consumer. Trick number one relies on fooling the eye into believing it is viewing a far more expensive sedan than actually exists. For 2004, Hyundai has reshaped the front and rear sheetmetal, further refining the artful merging of angular lines with soft, rounded edges; the standout styling is completed with the addition of a artsy trapezoidal grille and headlight design.

You'll probably agree that an even better trick than pulling a rabbit out of your hat is stuffing some green back into your wallet. For its second act, the Elantra surrounds you with an interior chalked full of standard features that would cost you thousands more on comparably equipped competitors. The Elantra features a moderately sized interior that is comfortable for four, but can fit five in a clinch. Front seat passengers get the first class treatment with ample head and legroom and an extremely comfortable set of twin bucket seats that include manual driver's side lumbar support and height adjustment.

A new instrument cluster separates the speedometer and tachometer into separate circles and there are a number of small but important improvements throughout the cabin. Hyundais dedication to constantly upgrade even the most minor equipment is just one more example of the companys commitment to out-perform the Japanese. For 2004, a push-and-release type ashtray has replaced the old pullout unit, the overhead dome light has been moved to the center of the roof for better light dispersion and an additional 12-volt outlet has been added to the center console.

You'll discover a high degree of fit and finish, with soft touch plastics and handsome cloth inserts on the doors panels; you'll also find power windows, power door locks, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with cassette, remote keyless entry, rear defroster, tilt wheel, front side-impact airbags, a tachometer and variable-speed windshield wipers—all for just a hair over $13,000. The Elantra's impressive content level and impossibly low sticker price is no smoke and mirrors parlor trick, just genuine Hyundai value backed by a standard 10-year/100,000 mile warranty.

Of course if you desire to add more to your Elantra, Hyundai gives you the option of adding such popular features as cruise control, a power sunroof, AM/FM stereo with CD player, traction control and ABS.

Power choices are limited to one engine: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes a comfortable 138 horsepower. Not only is this engine a strong performer, it features a good amount of low-end torque, an important requirement for quick acceleration and passing. Hyundai has improved the 2.0-liters output by adding variable valve timing, allowing the engine to produce more torque at low speeds and more horsepower at high speeds. In any case, power is no problem with the standard 5-speed manual and the aforementioned torque keeps the performance of the optional 4-speed automatic well in the acceptable range. The Elantra's engine is not as polished or refined as that of the Honda Civic, but we didn't find it to be annoyingly buzzy or loud either. We also had no complaint with the excellent fuel mileage our test car returned (the EPA rates the Elantra at 25 mpg city/ 33 mpg highway).

On the open road, the Elantra returns a surprisingly smooth ride—so long as the road beneath remains newly paved. On dips and bumps, we found the soft suspension to bounce a bit, which also allowed the car to exhibit more body lean and front-end plow than we expected. The culprits here are the soft springs and shocks combined with a set of skinny tires. Still, as this is not a performance sedan, we think for most people, the soft ride will actually be more to their liking. For those who don't like a soft ride, Hyundai offers a more sporting Elantra called the GT.

The Elantra GT model adds about $1500 to the price of the base car and gives you a European tuned sport suspension, 15-inch alloy wheels with wide performance tires, thicker front and rear stabilizer bars, a leather interior, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control and remote keyless entry. Youll also get an awesome Kenwood AM/FM/CD/MP3 player rated at 200 watts (50x4). The GT model is also offered as a five-door hatchback in addition to the four-door sedan. We love the way the GT rides and handles; with its five-speed manual transmission, the GT model all but erases the few gripes we had with the GLS's softly sprung suspension tuning. If you can swing the extra cash, the Elantra GT is a model you'll want sitting in your driveway; this is of course a complete fantasy because once the family finds out how much fun the GT is to drive, the Elantra's final trick for the evening will probably be a disappearing act.

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