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2007 Elantra First Impressions

backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
edited April 5 in Hyundai
I got to see the 2007 Elantra close up for the first time today at my local dealer. As mentioned above, they got two in this week, a grey SE AT with mats and a black GLS AT with Preferred Package and mats. I sat in the SE and looked it over closely, and also looked around the GLS but didn't sit in it since the seating is nearly identical (except no telescopic wheel as on the SE).

My first impression was that this is a very sharp and distinctive looking car, especially the SE in grey with the 16" five-spoke alloys. It doesn't look anything like a Corolla--it's much sleeker, even sexier. The 15" steel wheels on the GLS were too small for the car IMO, and made the car look cheap. The 16-inchers filled the wheel wells and really make the car I think. I would get the SE just for the alloys, but also there are several other nice features in the SE vs. the GLS such as the telescopic wheel with audio controls, trip computer, and leather wheel and shift knob. BTW, to the earlier question re tires, they are Hankook Optimas on both models--no more Michelins!

The fit and finish on the car was excellent. The paint, especially on the grey SE, was glossy and smooth (the black GLS looked a little dull, maybe because it was in the shade and dirty). Panel gaps were narrow and even. The doors close with a solid "thunk." No obvious gaffes inside. The dash is mostly a nice-looking black padded vinyl. The side panels are hard plastic, but with pleasing textures (e.g. a dot pattern on the light grey panels above the armrests). Also, there are thick pads on the armrests for elbows. The light grey fabric was pretty boring I thought, but that might be intentional based on the flak Hyundai got for its more adventurous texturing in the Sonata.

The best news for me was that I was able to find a comfortable position in the driver's seat even with the single-lever height adjuster. I was worried about that because the Sonata has a similar height adjuster, and it tilts the seat forward as it raises. The Elantra did not have this problem; the seat stayed much more level as it went up. Not as adjustable as the old dual-knob setup, but acceptable, and easier to use. There's a HUGE dead pedal, and with the telescopic wheel on the SE the driving position seemed quite comfy. The black leather 3-spoke wheel felt good also. And there is a mode control on the wheel for the audio system--Hyundai learned from its mistake on the 2006 Sonata.

I really like the appearance and layout of the center stack. The controls are clear and fall easily at hand. There's a covered bin on top of the center stack (the sales rep it's a placeholder for a future nav system option!) and also a covered bin at the bottom of the stack. The HVAC controls are three big silver knobs, used increasingly by Hyundai and other automakers. They are smooth and intuitive. Metallic trim around the HVAC knobs and the gated shifter lend an upscale appearance. The shifter itself is small, with leather and a metallic insert. Cruise controls are on the wheel now, instead of a stalk. The glove box is rather small but easily accessible. The center console has a thickly-padded armrest with a two-tier storage compartment. Cupholders are right in front of the center console, as on the old Elantra, but now have spring-loaded grippers. There's a bin for phones etc. in front of the shifter, right below the dual 12v outlets and the aux input jack. With the door bins with integrated bottle holders and the netted pockets on the front seatbacks, there's lots of storage in the cabin. Like the old Elantra, the new one has a damped sunglasses holder and maplights in the overhead console, and it now has dual lighted vanity mirrors with sliding doors. There are silver-painted plastic door handles and lock buttons. They look OK but feel cheap (c'mon Hyundai, spend a few extra bucks for metal door handles!). Layout of the power window/locks/mirror switches is similar to that on the old Elantra, on a canted panel on the driver's armrest.

The rear seat did not seem a lot roomier than on the old Elantra, with one exception: there was a LOT more room for feet under the driver's seat. There might be a little more knee room also. I was very comfortable sitting "behind myself"; I expect adults up to at least 6' will fit pretty well in back. The seat bottom and back provided good support. There's a center armrest with cupholders now. Three adults would probably be tight back there, and the middle person has to straddle the hump and sit against the folded armrest. At least they have their own adjustable headrest.

There's now a power trunk release on the driver's door. The trunk is quite roomy and tall. The seatback releases have been moved to pulls in the trunk, more convenient and secure. Gas struts would have been nice, but they are unusual in this class of car.

Just based on appearance and "sit", I think the new Elantra is a big improvement over the old model and now fully competitive with the best in its class--and even a lower-priced alternative for 4-cylinder midsized sedans given its mid-sized interior. I'll have to see how it drives and how the crash tests pan out before confirming it on my "consider" list for my next car (in SE MT trim most likely). Also there's that upcoming hatchback to check out...
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Comments

  • Did you happen to notice the price on these models???
  • Nice review, backy. I've read a few different places that there's a hatch on the way, so I really hope that's the case. I'm sold on the new Elantra otherwise.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    Yes, I noticed the pricing, but since prices are readily available here at Edmunds.com, I decided not to post them.

    The price I am most interested in is the SE MT, which with mats would be $16,380 MSRP ($15,338 invoice) including destination. I think that is a reasonable price for a car with its room and content, but what I am expecting is that there will be some rebates available by the time I am ready to buy.
  • Nearly all of the cars at my local Hyundai dealer are $249 more than the list price because of "security window etching." Isn't that kind of a scam for them to automatically do it without asking?
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,702
    Yes it is since you can get that for practically free (plus its pretty much useless). I would negotiate a price then tell them to drop the $249 for the "useless crap" (don't let them fool you that it has value it really doesn't) or they lose the deal.

    Or pretty much determine what you would pay for the car without the useless stuff on it and if they don't go that low walk.

    But yes its a scam. Just like putting on $2 worth of pin striping and charging $495 for it on every car they sell.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • w9cww9cw Posts: 888
    backy wrote: There's now a power trunk release on the driver's door. The trunk is quite roomy and tall. The seatback releases have been moved to pulls in the trunk, more convenient and secure. Gas struts would have been nice, but they are unusual in this class of car.

    The seatback releases are in the trunk as well in the Kia Spectra.

    Backy - were you able to confirm that the key fob had a remote trunk release?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    No, but Hyundai makes prominent mention of that feature in their announcements. I mentioned the power release on the door because that's what I used to open the trunk, and it was a mechanical lever on the floor in the old Elantra.
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    I like the way the XD hatch was rigged: The trunk latch was just like any other door latch- when the doors were unlocked, so was the trunk. When the doors were locked, so was the trunk.

    One feature I'd love to see is a gas cap lock. When I was in England last year, I found that if the doors of the Vauxhall I rented were locked you couldn't open the fuel door, but if they were unlocked you could. I would prefer that to the handle inside the car, because half the time I forget to pull the handle.
  • I was disappointed to see the 07 Elantra designers employ the traditional space-intruding hinges rather than the top-mounted hinges that are out of the way.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    Yes, but what other cars in the Elantra's class have the strut hinges for the trunk? I can't think of any, unless the new Sentra has them. Frankly I'd rather see the traditional Hyundai dual-knob seat adjuster and side moldings on the car than the strut hinges. Those features are becoming rare in new models too. But at least I can add the moldings after-market.
  • nodulenodule Posts: 118
    Backy, what brand tires were on the 2007 Elantra you
    looked at? Wil al three models get the same tires??
  • beantownbeantown Posts: 228
    According to his review, he said the GLS and SE got Hankook Optimas. No limited was available for him to view.
  • The '07 Elantra will be marketed in the compact segment with class-higher (mid-size) dimensions. There are in essence a number of cars with this feature. I am not exactly even sure it is a 'feature' much more a better design that Hyundai should employ to seperate itself from the very tough competition. This Elantra, though much improved, will still be considered below a Civic in both perception and sales. We can wax eloquent about this car but this generation of Elantra will not be considered the benchmark like the Civic and therefore needs to employ cutting edge design, technology and 'features' to maintain its place in this very competitive segment. Let's consider the competition and the various features of each:

    Honda Civic: PROS: cutting edge design, industry leading fuel efficiency, available hybrid, available Civic Si, industry leading resale, perceived quality, reliability and durability. Cons: reduced interior space, that two-tier dash design, price and you have to deal with arrogant sales people and dealers.

    Toyota Corolla: new design yet to be released but Corollas will sell on the Toyota name alone. Cons: vanilla ice cream, 'roady', price.

    Nissan Sentra: CVT (like it or not noone else has it)Cons: high price, Renault is screwing up their quality...just ask service depts at Nissan about Altima, Maxima. I expect the Versa and Sentra to have major recalls, too!

    Hyundai Elantra: IMO best interior ergonomics and design, class leading space, price, standard XM? Cons: 'borrowed' styling, perception of manufacturer is improving but many still don't know Hyundai is now a quality-leader, no innovative technology.
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    Yes, but what other cars in the Elantra's class have the strut hinges for the trunk? I can't think of any, unless the new Sentra has them.

    Yes it does. I noticed it the other day when I said it looked like Altima Jr.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    Here's another take:

    Civic: PROS: high fuel economy, excellent crash safety ratings, excellent standard safety features, class-leading 5AT, available hybrid and Si, high resale, historically strong quality and reliability, good power, nav available. CONS: small interior (smaller than an Accent!), odd dash layout, derivative exterior design (from an old Saturn), numerous quality issues in current model, high prices with no rebates and few discounts, low feature content for the price, options like leather, Bluetooth, and stability control not available, no hatchback available.

    Corolla: PROS: high fuel economy, high resale, high quality and reliability, stability control available (at least theoretically), hatchback available. CONS: terrible driving position for many drivers, dated and boring styling, small inside compared to Elantra and Sentra, poor standard safety features (side bags and ABS optional, active head restraints not available), low power, high price, options like leather, nav, and Bluetooth not available.

    Sentra: PROS: 6MT and CVT transmissions (unique to the class except for Nissan's own Versa), high-end features like Bluetooth, leather, and intelligent key available, very roomy for the class, good power. CONS: ABS standard only on top-end trim and available on others only with other costly options, derivative exterior styling, fuel economy not as high as class leaders, so-so quality and reliability record from its factory, stability control not available, low feature content on base model, nav not available, no hatchback available, high priced when well-equipped.

    Elantra: PROS: class-leading fuel economy (for a non-hybrid Family Sedan), excellent standard safety features (incl. side bags, ABS with 4-wheel discs, active head restraints), class-leading interior room, smooth and quiet ride (from reviews, needs to be confirmed), best-in-class interior design (from reviews e.g. MT), lot of convenience and comfort features (e.g. heated seats), low price, good power, best-in-class warranty, XM and nav available (soon), hatchback coming (early 2007?). CONS: Resale value and public perception on quality haven't caught up with current reality, Bluetooth and stability control not available (in US anyway), XM and nav not currently available.

    So I think the Elantra has a lot going for it in this class, especially with rumors of the new Corolla being delayed until 2008 and the high prices being charged for Civics.

    I think the Mazda3 is actually the strongest competitor for the Elantra: great handling, class-leading power, sporty styling, lots of equipment available, decent fuel economy with the 2.0L engine, good reliability and resale value, and reasonable pricing. The only major disadvantage it has vs. the Elantra is interior room, and maybe crash protection depending on how well the Elantra does. And the Elantra will have a price advantage when the inevitable rebates come.
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,430
    The Elantra may have class leading fuel economy compared to the Accord and Camry, but compared to the cars listed the Corolla and Civic both get better gas mileage.

    Also, there is no Corolla hatch, unless one considers the Matrix - which is quite a different vehicle performance wise. 5 fewer mpg on the highway.

    Wish they made a wagon in this class still - not some crossover that uses much more fuel.

    I would be very interested in an Elantra wagon, and maybe in the hatch. When is it due to arrive?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    As I posted, the Elantra is the top-rated non-hybrid car in the Family Sedans class (on following page, select Family Sedans class):

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/byclass.htm

    The Yaris gets better overall fuel economy than the Civic (non-hybrid) and Corolla also, but they are in a different EPA size class than the Elantra.

    Toyota considers the Matrix to be the hatch version of the Corolla, and even counts Matrix sales along with the Corolla. They share the platform and engines. The Matrix' fuel economy is lower because it's heavier than the sedan.

    There are wagons in this class, e.g. Focus and Forenza.

    Last weekend a sales rep at a local dealer told me the 2007 Elantra hatch would be available in January. I won't hold my breath though because they were wrong about when the sedan would show up.
  • z9z9z9z9z9z9z9z9 Posts: 101
    The one I looked at had Kumhos.
  • z9z9z9z9z9z9z9z9 Posts: 101
    Very good overview backy. Almost exactly what I thought.

    One thing I would like to add about the interior, it has really nice Volkswagen-style red and blue intrument cluster backlighting. It's similar to the outgoing Elantra GT, but not so overdone. In fact, the entire interior design is very tasteful -- it's as good or better than anything from Toyota or Honda. If the current Sonota had an interior this good, they would be selling a lot more of them.

    I'm a bit concerned about the initial softness of the front seats. I don't know how comfotable they would be on a long trip. And a driver's seat lumbar adjuster would be nice.

    The only bad things (besides the plastic door openers) are the hard plastic door panels. They are well done for plastic, but replacing the gray dimpled section with vinyl or cloth would really be an improvement.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    That's good to know that some Elantras will get Kumhos. Did you notice the model of tire, and the trim level of the car (GLS, SE, Limited)?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    I think it was MT that said the interior of the new Elantra would "embarrass the Japanese" competition. I agree it's sharper than the Sonata's interior.

    It is too bad the lumbar adjuster was lost in the new design, although frankly I didn't look for one. The seat seemed comfy enough.

    I wonder if there is leather trim on the door panels on the Limited, as there was on the GT and Limited on the old Elantra? Since I don't really touch the door panels (except to see if they are hard plastic!), that's not a major issue for me. What's more important to me is whether there's a padded surface where elbows land, and the new Elantra does very well there.
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    I think the Mazda3 is actually the strongest competitor for the Elantra: great handling, class-leading power, sporty styling, lots of equipment available, decent fuel economy with the 2.0L engine, good reliability and resale value, and reasonable pricing. The only major disadvantage it has vs. the Elantra is interior room, and maybe crash protection depending on how well the Elantra does. And the Elantra will have a price advantage when the inevitable rebates come.

    Based on the handling of the Mazda3, I would rate it clearly MUCH better than the outgoing Elantra and I haven't heard that the new Elantra is a major improvement. However, I bought the Elantra because the Mazda3 was about 20% higher cost (actual purchase price, not sticker) than the Elantra. It's better, but not for the money I was willing to spend last year.

    Also, the roomy cabin of the Elantra is much better than the cramped quarters of the 3.
  • I really am surprised to see fuel numbers this good for the Elantra. The engine/tranny are basically unchanged -- is this what the car was always rated at? Because every review I've read of the previous model, professional or otherwise, always complained about low fuel economy.
  • splx81splx81 Posts: 23
    I think the improvement on fuel economy of 07 elantra is due to lighter weight than the previous version, and also hyundai engineers did good job of optimizing beta engine.
  • z9z9z9z9z9z9z9z9 Posts: 101
    > Did you notice the model of tire, and the trim level of the car [snip]

    Sorry, I didn't check the tire model. It said KUMHO on the sidewalls in absolutely huge letters, and the tires had a 4-rib design. The car was a GLS with 15" tires, so I wasn't that interested.

    I hope 16" Kumhos are available on the SE. If I were to buy an SE with Hankooks, I would try to work out a buyback on the tires with the dealer. About the only charitable thing that I can say about Hankook Optimos is that they hold the car up off the ground.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    There were tweaks to the engine and transmission (automatic at least). The weight of the 2007 model is about the same as the 2006. Also consider the Gen 3 Elantra was the first Hyundai in the U.S. to get VVT. Maybe Hyundai has made some improvements there over the years, now that all their U.S. models have that technology.
  • That's the emissions volume, not the weight.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    You're right--it IS a big difference! ;) The '07 must pollute a lot less than the '06. More good news. I just wish the SULEV version were available outside of the CAFE states.
  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    hyundai engineers did good job of optimizing beta engine.

    There's something to be said for optimization versus clean sheet design. If the basic engine is sound, it makes a lot of sense ot tweak it to improve its performance. It'll be nice to get a better engine down the road, but it would be higher risk to release both a new platform and a new drivetrain concurrently. This way, Hyundai doesn't take as big of a quality hit (as a result of a completely new design).
  • z9z9z9z9z9z9z9z9 Posts: 101
    Elantra with 16" Kumho KH16 tires:

    http://www.cars.com/go/features/autoshows/vehicle.jsp?vehicletype=production&aut- - oshowyear=2006&vehicle=production_hyundai_elantra&aff=msnbc

    (click on wheel picture)

    This is an (old) auto show pic, so there's no guarantee that this has anything to do with production.
This discussion has been closed.