Toyota Corolla vs. Hyundai Elantra

By

Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


, Automotive Editor - June 24, 2019

The Toyota Corolla has always appealed to the pocketbook, if not the senses. The top-selling compact shakes off its staid image this year with a daring new design and more available power than any previous version. The Hyundai Elantra, its longtime rival, returns with updated styling to complement its already spacious interior. Is that enough to keep the Elantra in contention, or is the latest Corolla clearly a better choice?

See a side-by-side comparison of the Corolla & Elantra »

What the Corolla Gets Right

Underneath the Toyota Corolla's fresh bodywork are two new engines, an updated chassis, and a decluttered interior with a freestanding touchscreen. The base MSRP is higher than average for this class, but there's a good reason for that. Every Corolla comes with Apple CarPlay, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, automatic emergency braking, and more. Buyers don't have to shell out a dime extra for these goodies.

The bottom three Corolla trim levels are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 139 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque matched to continuously variable transmission (CVT). This setup is EPA-rated at 30 miles per gallon city, 38 mpg highway, and 33 combined.

The top two trims get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque – enough to turn the Corolla into an energetic performer. When paired with the CVT, the 2.0-liter also bests the base engine in efficiency with ratings of 31/40/34 mpg (city/highway/combined).

What the Elantra Gets Right

Shoppers looking for the most interior room for the money should put the Hyundai Elantra at the top of their list. Except for an inch here and there, Hyundai's compact is just as spacious as the leading mid-size sedans. Add in the comfort-tuned ride, and the Elantra emerges as the limousine of its class.

Most models runs with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 147 hp and 137 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, but most buyers spring for the optional six-speed automatic. EPA ratings compare favorably with other compacts at 28/37/32 mpg with the automatic.

The Eco model uses a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine good for 128 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Efficiency gets a boost to 32/40/35 mpg.

At the top of the lineup, the Elantra Sport carries a 1.6-liter turbo with 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The Sport delivers eye-opening acceleration for this class at the cost of a few mpg across the board over the base setup.

Best of Both

As in past years, the Toyota Corolla is practical choice that blends well with a variety of lifestyles. We're pleased to report that the weak spots – chiefly blandness and lack of verve – have been largely eliminated with the latest redesign.

The Hyundai Elantra remains a lot of car for the money, even if it trails newer rivals in aesthetics and standard technology. There's enough variation in the lineup to satisfy just about any buyer shopping in this segment.

Our Verdict: Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla's gains in design and performance put it ahead in this contest.

Take a closer look at the Toyota Corolla »

Take a closer look at the Hyundai Elantra »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


Privacy Policy|Do Not Sell My Personal Information|Terms of Use|Cookie Policy|Disclaimer
COPYRIGHT 1999-2020 MH Sub I, LLC dba CarsDirect.com