Review and photos by
Chris Chase, CanadianDriver.com
The importance of compact cars means that very few designs in this class languish for more than five or six years. Even that’s a change from the 1980s and ’90s, when many little cars were redesigned every four years. The Hyundai Elantra, though, never followed that four-year cycle though, being redesigned every six years at the soonest.
So, call me surprised that, just four years after its last redesign, a fifth-generation Elantra is set to soon arrive in Hyundai dealers. It looks like it’s going to be a solid improvement over the outgoing, fourth-gen model. That doesn’t mean that that fourth-gen car, introduced for 2007, isn’t good in its own right.
The 2007 Elantra arrived with dramatically different styling, but a largely carried over drive-train. The engine was an evolution of Hyundai’s “Beta” 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, a motor that, in one form or another, had powered Elantras since 1995. In this car, it made 138 horsepower and 136 lb-ft of torque. Lower trims could be had either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, while higher trims (GLS and/or Limited, depending on model year) came strictly with the automatic (until 2010, when every time could be optioned with the manual).
Fuel consumption ratings in 2007 were 8.4/6.0 L/100 km (city/highway) with the manual transmission; choosing the automatic dropped the city rating to 8.2 L/100 km. In 2010, Hyundai made some changes that helped lower fuel consumption to 8.1/5.7 L/100 km with the manual or 7.8/5.8 with the automatic. An Elantra Blue trim, that came fitted exclusively with the manual transmission, boasted figures of 7.8/5.6 L/100 km.
There’s little to report on the reliability front for this fourth-generation Elantra; Consumer Reports’ (CR) used vehicle data suggests that there are no serious problems to look out for, but a couple of smaller things to be aware of. A number of owners posting at Hyundai-Forums.com talk of trunks that open on their own. This seems to be limited to cars with the remote trunk release function that allows the trunk to be opened via a button on the key fob.
A suspension problem noted by CR is related to a clunking noise from the rear end heard over rough roads. See this thread at Hyundai-Forums.com for more information.
The Elantra earns the same better/much better than average overall reliability rating as the class-benchmark Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. It’s strange, then, that the Elantra is left off of the publication’s “recommended” used vehicle list, while the Civic and Corolla are on it.
Crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) yielded mostly good results, but it bears mentioning that U.S. Elantras were fitted with standard side and head curtain airbags, while these items were optional in Canadian cars.
From the IIHS, the Elantra earned a “good” rating in frontal offset crash tests, but 2007-2009 models scored “marginal” in the side impact test, thanks to a high likelihood of injuries to the front seat occupant. Hyundai waited until the 2010 model year (production beginning in November 2009) to make changes to the car to improve performance in this test, after which point it scored a “good” rating.
From the NHTSA, the 2007 Elantra scored five stars for driver and front passenger protection in frontal crash testing, and four stars each for front and rear-seat occupant protection in side impact tests. The changes made for 2010 models didn’t affect the NHTSA’s scores.
Used Elantra prices, per Canadian Black Book, start at $7,650 for a 2007 GL with manual transmission, and range to $16,775 for a loaded 2010 Limited model. Despite the massive strides that Hyundai has made in the quality of its vehicles, of which the Elantra is a prime example, those values still indicate a much higher rate of depreciation than the Civic and Corolla.
Those lower prices make this Hyundai a terrific bargain for basic transportation in a car that offers far more comfort and performance than smaller cars (the Honda Fit, a subcompact that nonetheless trumps many larger cars in utility, is worth almost as much, if not more, than the Elantra, depending on model year). Take the usual precautions when shopping for a used Elantra – look for a car with maintenance records and that passes an inspection by a trusted mechanic – but going by this car’s record so far, there shouldn’t be much to worry about.
Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) December, 2010:
|Year||Model||Price today||Price new|
|2010||Elantra GL automatic||$14,150||$19,299|
|2009||Elantra GL automatic||$12,525||$19,295|
|2008||Elantra GL automatic||$10,600||$19,295|
|2007||Elantra GL automatic||$9,100 (includes A/C||$16,695|
Only one Elantra-related site I found has a section dedicated to the fourth-generation Elantra, and that’s Hyundai-Forums.com. ElantraXD.com is mostly specific to the third-generation car, but not exclusively. ElantraClub.com covers all generations, as does HyundaiPerformance.com.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008302; Units affected: 8,541
2008-2009: On certain vehicles, the fuel pump may fail. Engine stalling would result in lost propulsion which, in conjunction with traffic and road conditions, and the driver’s reactions, could increase the risk of a crash. Correction: Dealers will replace the fuel pump sub-assembly.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2009120; Units affected: 67,976 (includes other models)
2007: On certain vehicles, the stop lamp switch may have been incorrectly installed during vehicle assembly. This could prevent proper brake lamp operation. Failure of the brake lamps to illuminate when the brakes are applied may result in the following road users being unaware of the driver’s intentions, increasing the risk of a crash causing injury or death. A malfunction of the switch may also cause the brake lamps to remain illuminated when the brake pedal is released. Additionally, a faulty switch may affect the operation of the brake-transmission shift interlock on automatic transmission-equipped vehicles so that the transmission shifter would not be able to be shifted out of PARK position. It may also cause the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) light to illuminate, and it may not deactivate the cruise control when the brake pedal is depressed. Correction: Dealers will replace the stop lamp switch assembly.
Crash test results
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.
For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.
Chris Chase is an Ottawa-based automotive journalist. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
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