With an all-new model in the works, the Hyundai Elantra is unchanged for 2006, except that the top-of-the-line SE sedan comes only with a four-speed automatic transmission that was optional in 2005.
The Elantra shares its platform with the Kia Spectra and Spectra5, although the Spectra contains side and curtain airbags as standard equipment which are unavailable on the Elantra in Canada (in the U.S., the Elantra comes standard with side airbags).
The Elantra comes as a four-door sedan, in GL, VE and SE trim, and as a five-door hatchback in GL, VE and GT trim. All models share a 2.0-litre engine. A five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned up to a four-speed automatic is standard equipment on all but the SE sedan, which strictly uses the autobox.
Both the sedan and hatchback start in the base GL trim line, which includes 15-inch wheels, tilt wheel, CD/MP3 system, 60/40 folding rear seat, manual remote mirrors and variable intermittent wipers. The hatchback GL also includes four-wheel disc brakes, sport-tuned suspension and a rear wiper/washer. Air conditioning is optional on both models.
The sedan and hatchback both move up to the VE line, which adds air conditioning, power windows, heated power mirrors and power locks with keyless entry, and cruise control.
The top line in both models – the sedan SE, and the hatchback GT – includes 15-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, fog lights, six-speaker stereo, leather-wrapped steering wheel and power sunroof.
A perennial bestseller in Hyundai’s line-up, the Elantra is a smooth performer in this price range, and its materials and fit-and-finish are on par with its Japanese and domestic competitors. Prices are unchanged from 2005 (the $1,000 jump in the SE sedan’s base price is because it is now only available with the automatic transmission that was a $1,000 option in 2005).
Still, given its commitment to quality and customer satisfaction, it’s tough to understand why Hyundai doesn’t offer the same airbag protection as its sister company Kia, or even as the same model that’s sold in the U.S. market, although the anticipated reworking will undoubtedly address the issue.