Paralysis by analysis. The Hyundai Elantra went through a refresh last year that brought in a more angular face and a more tech. This look remains on the 2020 Hyundai Elantra, as does its mile-long list of options, including tons of trims, a handful of engines, two transmissions, and a pair of body styles.
Having all these options sounds great on paper, but they can muddy up the car-buying process. With solid standard features and low base price, the Elantra is a solid choice in the compact sedan segment, but its substandard performance and cabin materials hold it back.
Overwhelming trim choices. If you want options with your compact sedan shopping, the Elantra is sure to keep you busy. It has a model for virtually everyone, as there are six sedan trims and two hatchback trims to choose from.
While this may be wonderful for someone who knows exactly what they want, the indecisive type could find themselves paralyzed by the number of options. Add to that its three engine options and two transmission choices, and this is enough to lock anyone up in analysis paralysis.
What’s worse is some of the trims aren't overly useful, like the Value Edition. This is a $900 option over the SEL grade and adds some not-so-popular bits like a sunroof, one-touch driver’s window, heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Why not just have a package offering these for $900 on the base model?
Two flavors of turbo. Turbochargers are big business in the compact car segment these days, and the Elantra has jumped into the deep end of forced induction feet first. The 2020 Elantra boasts two boosted four-cylinder engines with far different personalities.
The Eco trim uses a 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder engine that cranks out 128 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. This engine pairs with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission for EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 33 miles per gallon city, 41 mpg highway, and 36 combined.
Buyers seeking more pep can opt for the Sport, GT Sport, or GT N Line, which all use a 1.6-liter turbo-four with 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Sure, they're not barn-burners, but these boosted models offer a delicate balance of performance and fuel economy.
Spacey cabin, but cheap-feeling lower trims. Inside, the Elantra offers plenty of space in the front and rear. In the back seat, its 35.7 inches of leg room is a touch above average. Folks seeking even more rear leg room can find it in the Nissan Sentra, but other key competitors like the Toyota Corolla come up short.
The only interior measurement where the Elantra falls short is its 14.4 cubic feet of trunk space. This is tighter than the Sentra by 0.3 cubes and the Honda Civic by up to 0.7 cubes, but it's larger than the Mazda Mazda3 by 1.2 cubes.
If you like the looks of the Elantra and need more cargo space, the Elantra GT’s hatchback body swallows up to 55 cubes of cargo with the rear seats upright.
Though it has all the room most families need and a great look and feel in its higher trims, the Elantra’s lower grades, like the SE and SEL, sorely need upgrades due to cheap plastics and trim.
Also, unlike many of its competitors, there's no standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay below the second-tier SEL trim.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Hyundai Elantra is a unique-looking sedan with plenty of personality to go around. The problem is, with its bold looks and countless options, there may be just a few too many choices to dig through.
While the Elantra hits a sweet spot in performance and fuel efficiency, buyers seeking something a little roomier will find lots of extra rear seat leg room in the Sentra. Buyers looking for a more upscale feeling in every trim level will appreciate the premium interior and exterior craftsmanship of the Mazda3.
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