For 2007, the Hyundai Elantra is all-new, with a redesign that takes it into its fourth generation. It’s larger overall (although overall length has decreased by 20 mm), has a slightly longer wheelbase, and completely new exterior and interior styling. Unlike 2006, which offered a sedan and hatchback, the 2007 Elantra comes only as a four-door sedan.

As in 2006, power comes from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed standard transmission or four-speed automatic. Trim lines are GL, GL Comfort, GL Comfort Plus, Sport and GLS.

Features on the GL include 15-inch steel wheels, CD/MP3 player with four speakers, front power windows, floor mats, and integrated glass antenna. An optional air package adds a/c, auto-down driver’s window, rear power windows and power locks.

The GL Comfort adds power heated mirrors, engine immobilizer, keyless entry, cruise control, deluxe centre console with armrest, rear seat armrest with cupholder, manual driver’s seat height adjuster, heated front seats and centre rear head restraint.

The GL Comfort Plus adds anti-lock brakes, side and curtain airbags, active head restraints, and wheel-mounted audio controls.

The Sport model adds 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, leather-wrapped wheel, power sunroof, trip computer, rear spoiler and aluminum foot rest, but does not include side and curtain airbags.

The GLS includes the GL Comfort Plus features, and adds 16-inch alloy wheels, leather interior, fog lights, power sunroof, trip computer, illuminated vanity mirrors, telescopic leather-wrapped wheel, windshield washer level warning light, and automatic climate control. Unlike all other models, it comes strictly with the four-speed automatic.

The Elantra is a marked improvement over the model it replaces, offering clean and elegant styling, upscale interior even on the lower-priced models, impressive interior room in both the front and rear seats, a huge trunk with low liftover height, good performance and an extremely quiet ride, thanks to a thicker hood insulation panel, improved weatherstripping and sealed body seams. Overall, this is good value for the price, especially with the quality of the interior.

On the down side, the five-speed’s shifter and clutch feel rubbery, the leather-wrapped wheel is too smooth and slippery, and safety features such as ABS and side and curtain airbags are only available on specific models, and can’t be optioned on others. Hyundai has made it known that it plans to move upmarket – leaving Kia as its “value brand” – and having these important items available across the board, even at extra charge if necessary, will go a long way toward that goal.

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