Test Drive: 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring GL Sport automatic car test drives hyundai
2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring GL Sport. Click image to enlarge

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First Drive: 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring

Oshawa, Ontario – I’ve always been a fan of wagons. I like hatchbacks, but given a choice, I’ll go for a wagon’s smoother profile. They have the hauling capacity of many SUVs, a smaller footprint, better fuel economy and lower prices, all of which add up to a major plus in my book. And my tester this time, the Hyundai Elantra Touring, fills all of those roles very well.

A brand-new model for 2009, the Elantra Touring isn’t just an Elantra sedan with a liftgate, as was the case with the Elantra Hatchback last seen for 2006. Instead, while it shares the Elantra’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and its cockpit looks similar, it’s based on a different platform. It’s also a global design, and is sold as the i30 in Europe, Asia and Australia. Two wheelbase lengths are available overseas, but the North American market only gets one of them, and not surprisingly, it’s the longer version. Models destined for Europe are built in the Czech Republic, but ours come from South Korea.

Test Drive: 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring GL Sport automatic car test drives hyundai
2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring GL Sport. Click image to enlarge

It’s also sold here in four trim lines; as per Hyundai’s tradition, the equipment level is fixed and rises for each one, rather than features being available as stand-alone options. The base L comes in at $14,995, the L with Preferred Package is $17,245, the GL is $18,795, and my tester, the GL Sport, is priced at $21,195. The only add-on is a four-speed automatic transmission, which adds $1,200 when it replaces the five-speed stick shift that is the default on all trim lines. That was the case with my vehicle, which came to $22,395 before freight and taxes.

And that price, which undercuts almost all of its competitors, seems more than fair for this trim line, which includes 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, stereo with iPod control, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, and a power sunroof, on top of the full range of features – power windows and locks, wiper de-icer, fog lights, heated mirrors, cruise control, cooled glovebox, heated seats, and trip computer — that work their way up through the other trim lines.