There is a lot to like about the currentHyundai Elantra sedan [], including its lively steering and abundant safety features. But it is a middling competitor in the compact sedan space, hampered by its unrefined powertrains and a so-so interior compared to the segment-leading Honda Civic sedan [], to say nothing of the luxurious Mazda 3 []. It’s too soon to tell whether the all-new2021 Hyundai Elantra [] will move the needle overall, but just looking at it, the four-door appears to have taken several huge steps forward in terms of refinement, looks, and aspiration.EYE-CATCHING LOOKS? CHECK.Believe it or not, but this is the seventh generation Elantra. It has come a long way from its dowdy and derivative initial form in 1990, a journey exemplified by the new model’s expressive styling. The new Elantra receives gem-like detailing on its nose, and a wide grille similar to that used on the larger, even wilder-looking Sonata. Sharp lines cut across the sides of the vehicle and contribute to the more appealing look along with new full-width taillights that mimic the appearance of Hyundai []’s flying H logo.Bolstering the Elantra’s new look are its substantial dimensions. The sedan is longer, lower, and wider than before, gaining 2.2 inches in length and an inch in width, and its height has dropped 0.8 inch. It now is ever-so-slightly longer and wider than the Civic and Toyota Corolla sedans [] but almost looks like it’s from a different (and larger) class entirely. More important, rear legroom has increased to 38 inches on the new model. At least on paper, that’s more than you’ll find in the Civic (37.4) and Corolla (34.8). Hyundai decreased cargo space slightly to 14.2 cubic feet, which sandwiches the Elantra between the Civic (15.1 cubes) and Corolla (13.1 cubes).IT HAS INNER BEAUTY, TOOHyundai pairs all this newfound interior space with an all-new, aspirational interior design. Higher trim levels on the 2021 Elantra get two 10.25-inch displays stretching from in front of the driver to the center stack, the left unit acting as the digital gauge cluster and the right-side touchscreen handling infotainment functions. Those are flanked by slim air vents, and Hyundai fits a large (admittedly ambitious, given the Elantra’s station) Porsche []-style grab handle to the center console for passengers to hang on to. The center console even flows up and around the driver’s area, giving it a cockpit-style feel that, again, is matched in the compact class only by, perhaps, Mazda []’s sporty interior design ethos.Taking a page from Mercedes-Benz []’s current playbook, the Elantra’s interior offers driver-selectable mood lighting with 64 color choices. Other digital delights include wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which allow drivers to leave their phones in their purse or pocket, a unique capability outside of the luxury-car space (most everything else still uses wired Android Auto and CarPlay). Even if you don’t choose the fancy 10.25-inch touchscreen and stick with the standard eight-inch unit, you still get the wireless feature. Of course, Qi wireless device charging is available on the Elantra.It seems Hyundai has also greatly enhanced the Elantra’s onboard voice recognition system. It serves more functions and can better understand natural language commands. Using your voice, occupants can control the cabin temperature, fan settings, defroster, heated seats, heated steering wheel, and other functions (on models so equipped with those features). You can also say queries out loud such as “Find me a Starbucks.”[HTTPS://ST.MOTORTREND.COM/WP-CONTENT/MU-PLUGINS/TEN-SHARED/ASSETS/IMAGES/_.GIF][HTTPS://ST.MOTORTREND.COM/UPLOADS/SITES/11/2020/03/67-2021-HYUNDAI-ELANTRA-.JPG?INTERPOLATION=LANCZOS-NONE&FIT=AROUND|660:371]NEW BONES, NEW HYBRID, SAME ENGINESBecause it sits on a new platform, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra [] is likely to gain improvements in ride and handling—but we can’t speak to that until we drive one for ourselves. Next to lowering the Elantra’s center of gravity, the new architecture is lighter than before, lowering the car’s overall mass. As a result, fuel economy is claimed to be improved. While final EPA figures are forthcoming, the old 2020 Elantra topped out at 33/41 mpg city/highway, so look to the new one to deliver at least that.Hyundai helps ensure that with the new Elantra Hybrid, which uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor to achieve a total system output of 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. The Hybrid pairs with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, and it also boasts a fully independent multilink setup in the rear. Although fuel economy ratings haven’t been announced, the Elantra Hybrid is anticipated to achieve over 50 mpg in combined city and highway driving. That means it has a chance of keeping up with the shockingly efficient and otherwise normal-lookingToyota Corolla Hybrid [], which is rated at 52 mpg.As in the old Elantra, a 147-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder (with 132 lb-ft of torque) is standard on most of the lineup. For 2021, it is combined with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and fitted to the Elantra SE, SEL, and Limited models. Hyundai is expecting best-in-class combined fuel economy for this unit. The previous Elantra Eco’s turbocharged 1.4-liter engine and dual-clutch automatic transmission will not be available (they Elantra hybrid effectively replaces the Eco).No matter which engine or powertrain you choose, it needn’t be started up by a traditional key. A new digital key gives drivers the option of opening their Elantras with their phones and even starting the car by the same means. Compatible with Android smartphones, the app even lets drivers share a digital key with family and friends.Standard safety features on the Elantra include automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, lane following assist that uses electronic steering inputs to keep the car centered in its lane, automatic high beams, and driver attention warning that detects driver fatigue. Speaking of fatigue, you might grow tired waiting for the 2021 Hyundai Elantra []—it goes into production this fall in Korea and Alabama before going on sale at the end of the year. We look forward to testing one and seeing how far Hyundai pushed its compact sedan beyond the humble segment’s usual budget focus.[] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] []2021 Hyundai Elantra [] []2021 Hyundai Elantra [] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] [][] []The post 2021 Hyundai Elantra Sedan First Look: The Compact Goes WAY Upscale [] appeared first on MotorTrend [].

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