Drive: 2021 Elantra offers range of tech offerings

The compact sedan never was a big money-maker for most automakers, and a few have all but abandoned the form. Hyundai has a different vision. Its Elantra and Accent, compact and subcompact sedans and hatchbacks, remain central to the South Koran automaker's business plan - so much so that the Elantra can be fitted out as an economy, hybrid, sporty or luxury sedan.

We were treated to the latter version - the 2021 Elantra Limited. It rides quietly and smoothly, and it's loaded with luxury features. We'll list some of them here, but we suspect readers who actually check out this model in the showroom will be amazed by how much technology and refinement $26,600 can buy.

So here's the short list: blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist and highway driving assist in the safety category; leather upholstery, heated front seats with power adjustment on the driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, electric sunroof and auto-dimming rear-view mirror in the creature-comfort category; and satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, wireless charging pad, dynamic voice recognition and adaptive cruise control, in the tech category.

The base Elantra SE starts at $19,650. It has the same engine, transmission and suspension as the Limited, so it presumably would ride as comfortably and quietly as our test car did. It also has most of the safety-tech features, including the blind-spot and rear-cross-traffic-alert systems.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited

Price: $26,600

Engine: 2.0-liter inline Four, 147 horsepower, 132 lb.-ft torque

Transmission: continuously variable automatic

Drive: front-wheel

Weight: 2,725 lb.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear

Wheels: 17-in. alloy

Tires: P225/45R17 all-season

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 14.2 cu. ft.

Fuel capacity: 12.4 gallons

Fuel economy: 31 mpg city, 41 mpg highway

Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline

But that's just the beginning of the Elantra story. Elantras in N Line trim feature a sport-tuned suspension and 201-horsepower engine. And, for folks who miss the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, discontinued in 2014, there's the Elantra N, which features a 276-horsepower engine, and a choice of a 6-speed standard transmission or 8-speed dual-clutch automatic. Finally, there are two hybrid versions of the Elantra, starting at $23,550, that are rated up to 56 mpg.

Our Elantra Limited was no slouch in the fuel-economy department, delivering about 40 mpg in mixed urban and highway driving. It's rated at 31 mpg city, 41 highway.

Redesigned for 2021, the Elantra has a fairly roomy back seat and surprisingly large trunk for a compact car: 14.2 cubic feet. It also looks sharper than its predecessor model. Our only criticism was the road feel. Hyundai engineers apparently were more focused on smooth riding qualities than brisk handling. Most likely, this deficiency would disappear in N Line and N trim levels.

The Elantra comes with Hyundai's strong warranty, including a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Elantra also attained an overall 5-star rating in government crash tests.

Competition in the Elantra's class is on the thin side, but the Honda Civic, Mazda3, Nissan Sentra, Subaru Impreza and Toyota Corolla remain solidly in the game, as does Hyundai's sister brand, Kia, with the Forte. Of that group, only the Impreza comes with all-wheel drive.

Steven Macoy ( is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.