2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid First Test Review: Efficient and Actually Fun
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra lineup has so many offerings that you might find it difficult to choose the right model for your needs. Between the naturally aspirated engine, the hybrid, the turbo N Line, and the soon-to-come N model, there’s an Elantra for everyone. And while we’re usually fans of performance-oriented versions like the N or N Line, the Elantra Hybrid impresses us more than the other members of the present family. It offers a lot with its efficient powertrain, attractive looks, and great value, and it also delivers a satisfying experience behind the wheel.
We spent a few days driving the Elantra in Texas, first around the Dallas area and then in Houston, giving us the chance to experience city and highway driving.
Texas Road Trip
Available in just two trims—Blue and Limited—the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid doesn’t sacrifice interior space for its battery packaging. A 1.6-liter naturally aspirated engine coupled to a 32-kW electric motor delivers 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission delivers power to the front wheels, while a 1.32-kWh lithium-ion battery helps the car return 53/56/54 mpg city/highway/combined for the Blue and 49/52/50 mpg for the Limited. Those are excellent numbers, and with gas prices through the roof in some parts of the country, customers will be delighted to make fewer fuel stops.
While the powertrain’s output figures aren’t eye popping, the high torque number and its quick delivery make the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid a fun-to-drive machine. Press the throttle and the electric motor delivers torque instantly, with the initial acceleration feeling punchy. Once you reach 35 mph or so, the hybrid needs a bit more time to gain speed, which is more noticeable on the highway. Also noticeable is the engine’s loud roar as it tries to build speed; it feels like it’s squeezing everything it can to move the wheels.
The transmission shifts up and down quickly, and it holds gears longer in Sport mode. The steering gets a bit heavier in Sport mode, too, while Comfort mode keeps things more relaxed.
Unlike the regular Elantra, the hybrid has a rear multilink suspension that provides a more settled and refined ride. It absorbs bumps in good fashion, keeping cabin vibrations well under control. The ride feels smooth for a compact sedan, especially one that starts at $24,545.
But the initial push makes the Elantra Hybrid a remarkable car to drive, especially when you look at those fuel economy numbers. Driving a Limited model from Dallas to Houston, we averaged around 43 mpg during the 3.5-hour trip—a decent number given Texas’ high speed limits and the strong headwinds we encountered.
The Inside Experience
Our 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited test model came with the fancy interior and dual-screen layout which make a great first impression once you’re in the cabin. Two 10.3-inch displays give the cabin a high-tech feel, with one acting as the instrument cluster and the other as the infotainment touchscreen. The digital cluster has nice graphics that look a step above the class, while the infotainment is easy to use thanks to its simplified menus. Of course, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included with the big screen, but you must use a cable to connect your smartphone to the Elantra. While the standard 8.0-inch screen allows for wireless connectivity, the bigger screen lacks this compatibility.
Besides the impressive technology, the Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited comes very well equipped. Ventilated front seats proved to be a charm during the hot Texas summer, and the Limited also features a wireless charger, Bose eight-speaker premium audio system, and a power driver’s seat with lumbar support.
This is all great, but we’d like to see some improvement in terms of the interior materials. Though we like the textured plastic on the door panels and dashboard, it feels cheap both in the front and rear. Whether it’s on the top or bottom of the door, the plastics are hard everywhere, which is a weird juxtaposition with the rest of the cabin.
On the other hand, it’s also worth noting the attention to detail the car’s designers paid inside. For example, the air vents extend from the center of the dashboard all the way to the front passenger’s door, a design element that gives the interior an upscale feel. Designers also kept all buttons away from the screen’s frame to give it a clean look, with the hard buttons and volume knob sandwiched between the air vents and HVAC controls. These kinds of details make the interior shine.
Should I Buy It?
With an impressive cabin and refined driving abilities, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid is a car that stands out. Though its competition only includes the Honda Insight and Toyota Corolla Hybrid (both of which also drive very well), the Elantra makes a bold statement by bringing aggressive looks and unmatched value. Our Limited test model crossed the checkout counter for $29,260, an attractive price for all the included bells and whistles and superb fuel economy numbers.
We’ve spent plenty of time with all the Hyundai Elantra models, but the Hybrid is the one to get. From its value to its equipment to its driving experience, the Elantra Hybrid is a great all-arounder that delivers amazing fuel economy without breaking the bank.
2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited Specifications
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