AUTOMATIC REVISION | High-tech, stylish Hyundai Elantra is a $21,000 bargain


NAPLES, Florida – The annual weekend Cars on 5th auto show on Naples’ main 5th Avenue is a feast for the eyes. Car owners roll through the streets showing off their stunning Aston Martins, Mercedes, Audis and Lamborghinis.

My $20,995 Hyundai Elantra doesn’t look out of place.

Bold black fascia with integrated, swept-back headlights like a Merc EQS. Tail swept like an Audi A7. Body stampings cut like a Lambo Aventador. If Lamborghini made compact cars, they would be called Elantra. At a time when Detroit automakers are exiting the fun and affordable automotive space (I mourn the passing of the Ford Focus and Chevy Spark), their overseas peers have stepped up with a Whitman’s Sampler candy assortment of delicious morsels. Discover the technical Honda Civic, the spacious VW Jetta, the salacious Mazda3.

With its bold styling and generous suite of standard features, the 2022 Elantra is a standard compact that owners can proudly parade through any American neighborhood.

My vacation tester wore a hip high-end wardrobe: black grille, black window trim, black wheels on a dark gray body. Dude, is that the Batmobile? My former Detroit News colleague, Pam Shermeyer, was always on the lookout for some cool basic wheel covers in a sea of ​​ghastly silver plastic designs. Pam, you would like that.

The Elantra’s standard 17-inch black rims match its body stampings – triangular shards running around the five-wheel lugs. Driving down 5th Avenue, I found myself stopping and circling mid-engined Corvettes littered along the sidewalks, marveling at how the designers integrated its multiple surfaces.

I found myself doing the same with the Elantra. With edges sharper than a drawer full of knives, its surfaces somehow work in harmony. I pulled up next to an Audi RS5, sporting a huge black grille and 20-inch wire wheels. But next to Elantra, the RS5 seemed tame. Discover the fine details of the Elantra’s grille, each segment a triangle. Or the lower spoiler, the Hyundai a plate of triangular quesadilla slices.

The Elantra isn’t a sedan like the RS5 – hatches are expensive to make – but it looks one. The roofline meets the C-pillar in a long arc that tapers into an elegant swan’s tail.

The exterior hints at the attention to detail inside. I marvel these days at the democratization of automobiles – with luxury tanks with electronic gadgetry now commonplace in mainstream cars like the Elantra costing tens of thousands less. My $21,000 had everything I needed.

Walking to the Hyundai, she recognized the key in my pocket with NFC (Near Field Communication) – Elantra comes standard with a key fob and start button – illuminating the door handle so I could find it even in darkness. I squeezed the little button on the doorknob and the door unlocked.

I slipped into comfortable cloth seats that never rubbed despite a week of constant driving. It’s a comfort that can be enjoyed by four passengers because the Elantra offers generous space in the rear. I easily sat behind me with my lanky 6’5″ frame. Further back the truck swallowed two bags, a tennis bag, a briefcase and a beach chair with room to spare.

Like those plastic wheel covers, the standard interior is packed with premium touches. The instrument and console displays are integrated, like Mercedes, into a panel on the dashboard. The console takes up a Corvette page with a buttress separating the driver from the passenger – doubling as an Oh, Crap! handle for Mrs. Payne if needed.

My wife is used to my sudden Hyde-like transformations when I see twisty roads, and she’ll instinctively grab a handful. Like its front-wheel-drive compact-class brethren, fun comes standard in the Elantra with its low center of gravity and short wheelbase. Although it lacks the Civic’s peak dynamics, it’s fun to drive fast.

Which, like southeast Michigan, isn’t often in Naples with its flat landscape and gridded roads. The standard features that most drivers will find useful are electronic.

Press the start button and Elantra springs to life. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, so I never had to take my phone out of my pocket. The system requires patience to boot up – the eight-inch screen slowly recognizing “Henry’s Smartphone G70”, then Android Auto for navigation, Spotify, etc.

Smartphone apps are way ahead of the best luxury navigation systems. While lounging on the beach, my wife and I had searched for destinations ranging from restaurants to retail stores. When we switched to the car, they immediately appeared on Android Auto. I picked a nearby “Haagen-Dazs” and off we went. When I needed to add a mid-route destination, I simply barked at Android Auto – its voice recognition is better than any luxury vehicle at Cars on 5th – and it changed my route.

Cruising the Tamiami Trail, my Elantra bristled with safety features to keep me away from the six-figure tanks around me. Forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection is standard, as is reverse automatic braking. Pulling out of a parking space, the Hyundai detected a passing car – WUNK! — the car immediately applied the brakes to prevent contact.

Manufacturers differ on whether blind spot assist or adaptive cruise control is the most important safety feature. Hyundai offers BLIS standard – Honda and Toyota ACC. I missed ACC’s ability to navigate Naples traffic, but BLIS not only makes lane changes safe, it also saved me from having to strain my neck to check blind spots ( which my chronically stiff neck enjoyed).

It wasn’t until the stoplights in Naples that the Elantra betrayed its lower price status. While the luxury wagons around me were powered by supercharged, turbocharged, or supercharged mega-mills, my Hyundai only had a 147-horsepower four-cylinder powered by a continuously variable transmission.

Oh, it was painful.

Pulling out of a stoplight next to a BMW 3 Series, I flattened the throttle and the engine screamed – hamsters peddling the hamster wheel for all they were worth. In vain. The 255 horsepower Bimmer disappeared into the distance. Sigh. Elantra drivers can rest assured that their hamsters are sipping gas at 37 mpg, making it easier on the wallet, if not the ego.

Save their pennies and Elantra buyers can trade in for the $32,945 turbocharged N model to go BMW hunting with 267 horsepower, a limited-slip differential, 19-inch wheels and proper engine grunt – still for $12,000 less than a comparable Bimmer.

And like the base Elantra, it won’t give up anything German when it comes to wireless technology, interior screen size and exterior coolness as you cruise down 5th Avenue.

2022 Hyundai Elantra

Vehicle type: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, five-passenger compact sedan

Price: $20,995 including $1,045 destination fee (base SE as tested)

Powertrain: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder

Power: 147 horsepower, 132 lb-ft of torque

Transmission: continuously variable

Performance: 0-60 mph, 9.0 seconds (Motor Trend estimate); Top speed, 124 mph

Weight: 2,725 pounds

Fuel Economy: EPA, 33 mpg city/43 highway/37 combined

Report card

Treble: Warm body; standard features galore

Weak: gerbil power

Overall: 4 stars

Henry Payne is an auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at or Twitter HenryEPayne.

©2022 Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The 2022 Hyundai Elantra has an 8-inch screen, HD radio and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. (Drew Phillips/Hyundai/TNS)


The 2022 Hyundai Elantra comes standard with a continuously variable transmission. (Hyundai/TNS)


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