The sticker’s bottom line on my tester read $21,610 – which included only $125 for carpeted floor mats and an $835 freight and handling charge – so the affordable starting price of $20,650 included a blizzard of standard high-tech devices, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a hands-free smart trunk, to name just a few.
But the star of the show for this sixth-generation Elantra is the power package.
Let me explain.
The Eco is equipped with a turbocharged, 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine making a maximum 128 horsepower and 156 foot-pounds of torque. That engine is mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission with specific gear ratios. The combination delivers 32 miles per gallon in city driving and 40 mpg on the highway.
Impressive? I’ll say.
Some auto-reviewing colleagues of mine claim that the dual-clutch technology created a momentary power lag when they hit the accelerator with force. I felt this the first time my right foot landed hard on the accelerator, but my own adjustments on accelerator pressure after that seemed to override the lag.
Is that possible? I’m not telling you that I’m smart enough to outwit a seven-speed transmission, but the bottom line for me was one minor lag experience, and no more after that.
All in all, the Elantra Eco was a fun ride. I could easily envision it as a daily commuter/driver, with the bonus of comparatively rare trips to the gas pumps.
Steering was a fingertip breeze, and the tester was pretty much without a wiggle on sharp turns taken at high speed.
Yes, it does whine a bit at the top of steep hill climbs, but so do most compact cars with four-cylinder engines and horsepower ratings less than 150.
My ride also looked good with “Symphony Silver” exterior paint, LED daytime running lights, smooth over-the-top lines, a wide-yawning grille and 15-inch alloy wheels.
If your holiday shopping list includes nicely equipped basic transportation, an affordable new ride for one of your children or a four-door commuter that won’t crush your budget, this thoughtfully reworked Elantra should be on your test drive list.