The Elantra sedan is offered with three engines, while the Elantra GT makes do with two. Base versions of both body styles feature a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 147 horsepower and 137 pound-feet of torque in the sedan, and 162 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque in the GT mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
In Sport trim, both models share a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that generates 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, bringing some much-needed performance to the lineup. It can be matched to either a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic or – our pick – a six-speed manual.
Our tester was the Eco model, which is equipped with the third engine: a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that develops 128 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, the Eco is even fun to drive once things get going – in this case, merging into traffic and passing at highway speeds is no problem.
Most Elantra sedans score an EPA-estimated 28 miles per gallon in the city, 37 mpg on the highway, and 32 combined. The Eco model stretches those numbers out to an EPA-estimated 32 mpg in the city, 40 on the highway, and 35 combined. Our own observed fuel economy was a vehicle-measured 32 mpg in spirited driving that, for the most part, was spent in around-town driving.
The good news here is that a smooth, controlled ride and composed handling are the name of the game across the lineup with either suspension – most models use a MacPherson front, torsion beam rear, while Sport models feature an independent rear suspension. Around town, the ride is quiet and the suspension does a nice job of isolating most road imperfections, while the brakes offer a decent amount of feedback.
But all is not perfect as there's not much of initial bite to the brake pads, there's very little feedback through the steering wheel, and those who have driven the Elantra Sport note that there's a wooden feel to the brake pedal with little feedback, and noticeable fade during hard stops.
At the same time, both the six-speed automatic and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic are calibrated for fuel efficiency rather than performance. The seven-speed, in particular, features wide gaps between the first three gears, underlining the Eco model's lack of power especially at the low end, while the base 2.0-liter engine in the sedan is only adequate when compared to the competition.