What's New for 2015
Aside from some minor changes to options packages, the 2015 Hyundai Elantra carries over unchanged.
If you're interested in buying a compact sedan, high fuel economy and good value are probably right at the top of your list of requirements. And wouldn't it be nice to get something stylish and entertaining to drive as added bonuses? If that's your thinking, Hyundai may have you covered with the 2015 Elantra.
For starters, the 2015 Hyundai Elantra does indeed represent a pretty good value. The large number of standard features Hyundai includes is welcome, and you can even add niceties like Bluetooth and a rearview camera without breaking the bank. The Elantra also comes with a roomy trunk, excellent warranty coverage, and, although it's always a subjective discussion, sharp styling that gives the Elantra one of the most distinctive looks you'll find in this class.
Below the surface, however, there are some issues. The Elantra's stylish, sloping roof line limits headroom up front for taller folks and makes for a difficult entry into the backseat. Also, although the Elantra's 1.8-liter engine returns pretty good fuel economy (a combined EPA-estimated 31 mpg) its acceleration is lackluster compared to more sprightly rivals like the Mazda 3. The Elantra Sport's larger engine provides quicker acceleration, but fuel economy drops as a result. An occasionally stiff ride quality is another downside.
When you look into the sea of compact cars available today, several stand out as worthy rivals to the 2015 Hyundai Elantra. The Ford Focus and Mazda 3 are two of our top choices, as they are supremely refined for the class and fun to drive. The well-rounded Honda Civic, value-packed Kia Forte and peppy Volkswagen Jetta are also worth a look. Overall, though, the 2015 Hyundai Elantra, which earned an Edmunds.com "B" rating, is capable enough that we recommend considering it among your top choices in the segment.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Hyundai Elantra comes in three trims levels: SE, Limited and Sport.
Standard SE features include 15-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a trip computer, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split-folding rear seats and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and a USB/iPod interface.
There are two options packages available for the SE (only with the automatic transmission): the Popular Equipment package and the Style package. The Popular Equipment package adds 16-inch wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice controls, a 4.3-inch touchscreen audio interface and a rearview camera. The Style package adds a sunroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel and LED headlight accents.
Except for the sunroof, the Limited comes with those options as standard and adds 17-inch wheels, foglights, LED taillights, leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), heated front and rear seats and Blue Link telematics.
The Sport trim level loses the heated seats and Blue Link but otherwise includes all of the above, along with a 2.0-liter engine, the sunroof, a sport-tuned suspension and keyless ignition and entry.
For the Limited trim level, the Limited Ultimate package adds the keyless ignition and entry plus a larger 7-inch touchscreen display, dual-zone automatic climate control, a navigation system and an upgraded audio system. For the Sport, the available Tech package is similar and also adds in Blue Link telematics.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2015 Hyundai Elantra SE and Limited models are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 145 horsepower and 130 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the SE, while a six-speed automatic is optional. The automatic is the only transmission offered on the Limited.
During Edmunds testing, a Hyundai Elantra Limited sedan accelerated to 60 mph in 9.7 seconds, which is slower than average for the segment. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 31 mpg combined (27 city/37 highway) for the manual-transmission SE and automatic-equipped Limited version, and 32 mpg combined (28/38) for the automatic-equipped SE. These are solid numbers, though a handful of rival compact sedans offer special, fuel-economy-themed models with even better fuel economy.
The Elantra Sport has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is good for 173 hp and 154 lb-ft of torque. The manual transmission is standard and the automatic is optional. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 28 mpg combined (24/34) for the manual version. The automatic is also rated 28 mpg combined but achieves 1 mpg more on the highway. At our test track, an Elantra Sport with the automatic zipped to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds, which puts it on the quicker side of the compact-sedan average.
Standard safety features for all 2015 Hyundai Elantra sedans include antilock disc brakes, hill-start assist, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is optional on the SE and standard for the Limited and Sport trims. The Blue Link emergency telematics system (standard on the Limited and optional on the Sport) provides services such as remote access, emergency assistance, theft recovery and geo-fencing (allowing parents to set limits for teenage drivers).
In Edmunds brake testing, a Hyundai Elantra Limited sedan came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet, which is just a bit longer than average for cars in this class, where an Elantra Sport needed just 118 feet.
In government crash testing, the Elantra sedan received five out of five stars in overall testing, with four stars for total frontal crash protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Elantra earned a second-best "Acceptable" rating in the small-overlap frontal-offset crash test and the top "Good" rating in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset crash test. The IIHS also awarded it a "Good" rating in the side-impact, roof strength and head restraint and seats (rear-impact whiplash protection) tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2015 Hyundai Elantra pulls its exterior design inside, with lots of swooping lines and attractive surfaces to match the generally pleasing aesthetic of the car. The center stack integrates well with the numerous other curves throughout the cabin, while the buttons and knobs are easy to find and feel generally sturdy. While there are some hard plastic elements here and there, they are convincingly grained to look a bit better. The available 7-inch touchscreen and navigation system are easy to use thanks to large virtual buttons and an intuitive menu layout.
The Elantra's interior is spacious, but taller drivers may have difficulty getting the seat as low as they'd like. As such, headroom up front can feel limited for those over 6 feet tall. The backseat is roomy and great for kids, though again, a lack of headroom might be an issue for taller adults. The Elantra sedan features a large trunk when compared to its rivals -- 14.8 cubic feet -- and the liftover height is low.
The 1.8-liter engine on Elantra SE and Limited models should provide adequate performance for the majority of drivers. If you do find it lacking, the Sport trim level's larger 2.0-liter engine will likely be a worthwhile upgrade. On the SE and Limited, however, the gas pedal's response will likely seem abrupt until one acclimates. And while the automatic transmission is usually a smooth operator, it can occasionally seesaw between gears. It was for these reasons that an Elantra Limited earned an Edmunds "B" rating.
The Elantra is noticeably quiet at freeway speeds and is indeed one of the quieter cars in its segment in this regard. Through turns, it's also stable and secure, though not particularly engaging. The one gripe we have here regards the car's ride quality over broken pavement -- it can be rather harsh over bigger bumps and potholes, making the Elantra feel unrefined compared to several key rivals.