Is Hyundai Elantra a Good Choice for A Secondhand Car?

Engine: 1.6-liter DOHC in line-4/1.8-liter DOHC inline-4  Gearbox: 6-speed manual/automatic
Power: 128hp @ 6,300rpm/148hp @ 6,500rpm  Torque: 157Nm @ 4,850rpm/178Nm @ 4,700rpm
Estimated economy: 8-10km/L (city); 14-16km/L (highway)

History

Before the turn of the century, the Elantra was simply an also-ran in a crowded compact market. Sure, it was a well-engineered car, but its uninspired styling and bland reputation made it uncompetitive. After skipping an entire model generation, Hyundai tried to make a comeback with a diesel variant in 2007, but prices were high, supplies were low, and interest was nearly nonexistent.

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This all changed with the introduction of the MD-generation Elantra. Not only was it a more appealing car than its predecessor (better, faster, stronger, and so on), it was also much cheaper. Which means it actually sold. And sold big. As it bows out in favor of a more refined and polished successor, we take a look back at the award-winning Elantra, to see if it’s still a good buy secondhand.

Value and costs

The Elantra was a right bargain when new, and secondhand price trending mirrors most Japanese sedans, with the exception of the unflappable Honda Civic (to be fair, it cost $2,000 to $3,000 brand-new). Still, a wide selection of preowned units at various price points promises good bargains for handy negotiators.

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While dealer maintenance can be costly, a wide network of Hyundai suppliers ensures you can find original parts outside the casa, and a thriving club scene guarantees easy access to aftermarket accessories. Aside from some minor issues detailed elsewhere in this post, the Elantra has no major mechanical faults. As always, however, try to bring a mechanic familiar with the car along with you on the inspection and test drive.

Exterior and interior

At a time when mainstream manufacturers were embracing a conservative, up-scale look, the Elantra’s lines reflected an exuberance typical of Hyundai’s ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ philosophy. The sporty, carved lines stood out well against similarly sporty competitors like the Mazda 3. The only letdown was the set of small 15-inch wheels on the 1.6-liter variant. Even the top-of-the-line 1.8 GLS had puny 16-inch alloys. A 2014 facelift brought bigger foglights, projector headlamps, LED running lights, and, finally, optional 17-inch wheels. It also introduced a limited edition ‘2.0’ variant, but these are rare as hen’s teeth.

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Five years on, the Elantra’s interior still looks refreshingly modern, with an organically sculpted look and great ergonomics. Thanks to the long wheelbase and low bench, the rear seat is usefully ginormous. Cheaper variants feature a urethane steering wheel and a generic single-DIN radio, while higher-spec GLS units sport a head unit and a leather-wrapped tiller.

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All units feature the same plasticky cabin materials, but that’s par for the course for mass-market cars nowadays. The2014 facelift made the integrated multimedia interface standard up and down the lineup, with a touchscreen unit reserved for higher-end L variants.

Engine

Despite some knock issues with contemporary 1.4-liter Kappa-equipped Accents, there are no similar reports for the more powerful 1.6-liter Gamma and 1.8-liter Nu engines in the Elantra.

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Options are wide as there are two engines available

Both are responsive and powerful, though only the smaller mill was available with the six-speed manual. Both manual and automatic transmissions are wonderful to use, with crisp shifts and solid performance. Just make sure to check for a burnt smell or hard shifting, which might indicate heat issues.

One notable but uncommon quirk is intermittent starting issues, which can often be traced to a faulty transmission inhibitor switch rather than something more serious.

Driving impressions

The Elantra’s quick steering rack and relatively low weight make it a tossable sedan for spirited out-of-town drives. A lack of high-speed damper control, however, can make it feel a bit wayward over bumps at speed. A lack of sound insulation around the rear doors and firewall, on the other hand, make it a bit noisier than most as well. These nits aside, it’s a fine car to drive, with a low seating position, good power and a balanced chassis.

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Do listen for a clunk from the steering column — an indication of excessive wear. While it’s an expensive fix at the casa, all that’s needed, really, is a replacement flexible rubber coupler, available for just a few dollars on eBay.

SUITABLY SLEEK

Aerodynamic profile is one of the best in its class.

NEW SHOES

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Many owners are forced to upgrade from the 15-inchers

LONG AND LOW

A long wheelbase makes for excellent legroom.

SMOOTH FLOW

A 5,400-ton hydraulic press stamped out those curves.

LEAN AND MEAN

The front is more memorable than the previous car’s.

BESPECTACLED

Chrome rings are a nice touch. Facelift got LED detailing.

Verdict

As with most Korean cars, Elantra ownership isn’t without its quirks. But it’s a solid car, and a fine alternative for those looking for something flashy, practical and fun. And for the enthusiast, the combination of a rewy 1.6 and a manual ’box simply makes the deal all that much sweeter.

MORE INFO

Rivals: Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Mazda 3
On sale: 2011-2016
Best resource: hyundai-forums.com
Parts: Oil Filter – $.3,2
Air Filter – $8.5
Fuel Filter – $13.3
Brake pads (Front) – $60/ pair *Prices are estimates
Top contact: Hyundai Asia Resources

QUICK FACT

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The Zombie Survival Elantra Coupe was made in cooperation with The Walking Dead creator.

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