The mid-range 2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL model, with the two available packages included – for us – is the best value in the Elantra lineup and in the segment.
At a time when most manufacturers are reducing or eliminating their sedan offerings, Hyundai has stepped it up with an appealing fresh take on its Elantra compact sedan.
For 2021, Hyundai invested in a total clean sheet redesign of the Elantra giving it standout styling, multiple performance capabilities, lots of the latest technology and very affordable pricing.
In recognition of that effort, the new Elantra was named the 2021 North American Car of the Year. In addition, it has received a 2021 5-Year Cost to Own award from Kelley Blue Book and has one of the 10 Best Car Interiors Under $50,000 for 2021, according to Autotrader.
2021 Elantra SEL – as Tested
The MSRP for the 2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL – well equipped – is $20,900.
Adding the two available option packages (Convenience and Premium) plus carpeted floor mats and freight, this handsome Intensive Blue with Black-on-Black interior Elantra SEL delivered into our garage for just $25,100.
We repeat, just $25,100 – loaded up with more features and technology than most of the competitors in its class.
Borrowing Hyundai’s words – the 2021 Elantra stirs up the dramatic. Its crisply defined character lines on the sides flow with its sharply contoured bumpers. The dominant dark chrome grille up front, chrome belt moldings and the angled design of the rear give Elantra ‘motion’ even when standing still.
As Hyundai says – from every angle the 2021 Elantra is anything but boring. Nicely done.
Functional elements include Automatic Projector Halogen Headlamps, LED Daytime Running Lights, Full LED Rear Taillights, Dual Power Heated Outside Mirrors, Intermittent Windshield Wipers, Power tilt and slide Sunroof and boldly styled alloy wheels.
Powertrain / Running Gear
Power for the Elantra SEL is provided by 2.0L DOHC gasoline 4-cylinder engine producing 147 horsepower with 132 lb.-ft. of torque well integrated with the Hyundai Smartstream Intelligent Variable Transmission. Acceleration is very satisfactory both from standing start or highway passing.
It is equipped with Drive Mode Select offering driver choices of SMART, NORMAL and SPORT. Though we are often fond of SPORT, we found NORMAL delivered very satisfactory performance around town and on the highway.
The fuel economy rating is 31/41/35 mpg city/highway/combined.
Underneath, the front-wheel-drive Elantra runs on MacPherson Struts w/Stabilizer Bar and Twin Tube shocks up front and Coupled Torsion Beam Axle w/Coil Springs and Monotube Shocks rear.
The Motor Driven Power Rack and Pinion Steering is nicely balanced. Braking is ABS w/Electronic Brake-Force Distribution and 11-inch ventilated disc front and solid disc rear.
Putting the rubber on the road for our SEL were the optional 17-inch wheels mounted with 225/45R17 all-season tires.
The power, balance and ride of this Elantra was more than we expected from a sedan at this price point.
The cabin of our Elantra SEL was generously sized (for a compact) and nicely styled. According to Hyundai, it has more interior passenger volume than the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra and the all-new Honda Civic. We would agree.
Access to that roomy interior can be a bit challenging for large and tall folks. With a ground clearance of just 5.3-inches and low overall vehicle height, front seat entry requires some effort, but seat placement and adjustment (height and travel) mitigate that challenge reasonably well.
Once in, we found the front headroom (even with sunroof) to be comfortable, leg room well more than adequate with seat/shoulder room more generous than we expected.
Access to all control elements is easy with its driver centric “cockpit” styling. We did find rear seating access a bit tighter (watch your head) as it is in most vehicles in this category. But once, in rear seating was comfortable and roomy.
Our Elantra SEL featured Premium Cloth covered heated front seats. Driver adjustment was 6-way power with passenger 4-way manual including both slide and recline.
Dual automatic Temperature w/Rear Seat Heater Ducts and Window Defroster kept the cabin very comfortable in the 100-degree heat of Central Texas this past week.
Notable – from a driver perspective – was the ‘segment largest’ 10.25-inch TFT-LCD Instrument Cluster with bright Digital Display.
Technology / Infotainment
The Bose Premium Audio in our Elantra SEL was delivered through the optional 10.25-inch Navigation High Resolution Touchscreen system that included the rearview camera with Dynamic Guidance and Wireless Charging in Qi format.
Functional elements of the 8-speaker (including rear door) system were HD and SiriusXM radio, Android and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone, Dual USB ports, 12-volt outlet, Blue Link Connected Car Services and Speed Sensitive Volume Control.
Of note – equipped with a Proximity Key and Push Button Start – Elantra also features Hyundai Digital Key, which allows it to be unlocked, started, and driven without a physical key via a compatible Android smartphone device.
Elantra for 2021 offers a very complete range of safety technology both standard or optional.
Our test Elantra SEL included the following combination of technology: Smart Cruise Control w/Stop and Go, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist w/Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection (camera), Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Warning and Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Warning, Lane Keeping and Lane Following Assist, Driver Attention Warning, High Beam Assist, Safe Exit Warning, Rear Occupant Alert and Tire Pressure Monitoring.
Making Elantra an even better buy is the best warranty in the industry. Every Hyundai is covered by a 10-year 100,000-mile Limited Powertrain and 5-year New Vehicle Limited Warranty plus 5-year Unlimited Miles Roadside Assistance.
From personal experience, we can tell you their warranty response is seriously ‘owner focused’.
You have a wide range of choices with the Elantra compact sedan. In addition to the gasoline SE SEL and Limited models, it also comes as a Hybrid (Blue HEV and Limited HEV) offering even more fuel economy (over 50 mpg).
Plus – available this Fall – a new turbo powered “N” performance version will be available for those who want added sporty performance with 7-speed Dual Clutch automatic or a 6-speed manual gear box option.
Learn more about all of the Hyundai Elantra models and trims HERE: https://www.hyundaiusa.com/us/en/vehicles/2021-elantra
KEY DATA: 2021 Hyundai Elantra
- Trim Level SEL
- Class Compact Sedan
- Seating Five
- MSRP $20,900
- As Tested $25,100 (delivered)
- Engine 2.0L 4-cylinder
- Horsepower 147 @ 6200 rpm
- Torque 132 lb.-ft. @ 4500 rpm
- Transmission Intelligent Variable
- Drive System FWD
- Drive Modes Smart/Normal/Sport
- Wheel size 17-inch Alloy
- Tire Size 225/45R17
- Suspension MacPherson Strut (F) / Torsion Beam Axle (R)
- Fuel Capacity 12.4 gallons
- Fuel Economy 31/41/35 mpg city/highway/combined
- Range 500 miles (highway)