A mid-cycle refresh for the 2019 Hyundai Elantra brings a number of styling updates that add to a value proposition that includes a trio of engines and good fuel economy across the lineup. At the same time, most sedans lack the hatchback GT's driving dynamics, the Eco's DCT transmission is unrefined, while the SE lacks the advanced safety features standard on the rest of the lineup.

Best Value

Pricing for the 2019 Hyundai Elantra start at $17,985 for an SE with a six-speed manual transmission, and rises to $26,835 for the Limited equipped with the Ultimate Package (a $500 reduction over the 2018 model). In between, the SEL and Value Edition represent the volume models, the the Eco is the fuel miser, while the Sport offers improved speed and handling at a price.

Like last year, the Limited model – sans the pricey Ultimate Package – offers the best overall value, with standard high beam assist, LED headlights, LED taillights, side mirror turn signals, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, dual automatic climate control, a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen with Infinity Audio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, a wireless charging pad, and keyless push-button start.

The Limited also takes advantage of the new advanced safety features that are now standard on SEL and above models that includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and driver attention alert.

Here's the sedan trim we'd choose:

  • Model: 2019 Hyundai Elantra Limited
  • Engine:2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Output:147 hp / 137 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain:Front-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy:28 City / 37 Hwy
  • Options: Carpeted floor mats ($125)
  • Base Price: $23,485 (including the $885 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $23,610

Performance

Hyundai Elantra

The Elantra sedan is offered with three engines, based on trim level. SE, SEL, Value Edition, and the Limited models come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 147 horsepower and 137 pound-feet of torque. On SE models, a six-speed manual transmission is standard; a six-speed automatic is optional on the SE, and standard on the other trims. Stepping up to the Eco brings with it a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 128 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque matched with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Rounding out the lineup is the Sport trim that matches a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine generating 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque with either a model-specific seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, or – our pick – a six-speed manual.

Elantra sedans with the 2.0-liter engine and six-speed manual score an EPA-estimated 26 miles per gallon in the city, 36 mpg on the highway, and 29 combined, while those with an automatic do a bit better at 28/37/32 mpg (city/highway/combined). The Eco model ups those numbers to 32/40/35 mpg, while the Sport trim manages 22/30/25 mpg with the manual or 26/33/29 mpg with the automatic.

Most models use a MacPherson front, torsion beam rear, suspension, while the Sport substitutes an independent setup in back. Both offer a smooth, controlled ride and composed handling. Around town, the ride is serene, with the suspension doing a nice job of isolating most road imperfections, and the brakes offering a decent amount of feedback through the pedal.

At the same time, despite their solid feel, there's not much of initial bite to the brake pads, and, in particular, a wooden pedal feel and noticeable fade during hard stops on Sport models. And although it's weighted nicely, there's very little communication between what's going on under the chassis, and the steering wheel.

Finally, while the six-speed manual is enjoyable, both automatics – the conventional six-speed and dual-clutch seven-speed – have been calibrated for fuel efficiency over performance. The seven-speed, in particular, features wide gaps between the first three gears, which only serves to emphasize the Eco model's lack of power, especially at the low end, while the base 2.0-liter engine is only adequate compared to rivals.

Style

A mild refresh for 2019 brings with it a number of changes. The front fascia is less rounded and more chiseled, with sharp angles defining the grille, deep fog light surrounds, and narrower, almost triangular, headlight enclosures. The hood and front fenders are also new. The body sides remain unchanged and feature a chiseled upper character line and deeply sculpted lower swage line that accentuates the steeply-raked roofline. In back, the decklid has been re-styled to accommodate new, tapered taillights, while the license plate binnacle has been re-positioned from between the taillights to the re-styled lower valance, for a cleaner look.

The slickly updated exterior is wrapped around a cabin that can still boast of 95.8 cubic feet of passenger space, and a trunk that measures 14.4 cubic feet, keeping the Elantra in the EPA's mid-size class. Like the larger Sonata, the controls and touchscreen are canted slightly toward the driver for better ergonomics. For 2019, the dash features new center HVAC and driver-side instrument clusters, along with re-styled dash vents, and a revamped storage tray in front of the shifter. The unchanged front seats are comfortable and nicely bolstered, with Sport models getting deeper buckets covered in grippier cloth or optional leather. There's ample head and knee room in back courtesy of low rear seats that offer enough leg room to accommodatesix-footers in comfort, while the optional gesture-controlled automatic trunk makes things easier when your hands are full.

At the same time, interior noise levels decrease as trim levels increase, with the best sound insulation tweaks reserved for the pricey Limited model. Additionally, even with the refresh, the interior of the latest generation Elantra sedan seems to have taken a step backward, as it lacks the fit, finish, and material quality of the European-inspired hatchback GT. Finally, while relatively commodious, rear seat occupants don't enjoy the comfortable seat cushions found up front.

The Best and Worst Things

Despite its compact exterior dimensions, the Elantra's total interior volume of 111 cubic feet places it in the EPA's mid-size class.

Once an image leader in the class, the interior of the current Elantra sedan is more restrained and suffers from a number of chintzy-looking material choices.

Right For? Wrong For?

Hyundai Elantra

Sharp styling updates, a smooth ride, good fuel economy, and trim levels for nearly every pocketbook make the latest Elantra sedan a good choice for singles.

The Sport model still falls short of class leaders like the Volkswagen GTI, Focus ST, and any Mazda Mazda3. Enthusiasts should check elsewhere.

The Bottom Line

Despite the lack of advanced safety features on the SE, middling performance from the base engine, and a clunky transmission on the Eco, the 2019 Hyundai Elantra remains a solid offering in the compact class with its updated styling, good fuel economy, and smooth ride.