Redesigned Elantra has more interior room, same base price
Since it was first introduced in 1991, the South Korean-built Hyundai Elantra has always been a little bit bigger, a little more powerful, and a little less expensive than its mainstream rivals the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla – although it’s never been able to match their fuel economy.
In recent years, Hyundai’s strategy has been matched by fellow South Korean imports, Daewoo and Kia, but Hyundai remains the leading South Korean import in Canada.
Hyundai’s formula of one-upmanship has been carried over to the redesigned 2001 Elantra: it’s bigger than the previous Elantra and roomier than its Japanese competitors, and remains less-expensive. And while its 140 horsepower 2.0 litre engine is carried over from the previous model, it’s still a more powerful engine than its competitor’s engines.
Hyundai’s warranty is also competitive with its Japanese rivals: 3 yrs/60,000 km and 5 yrs/100,000 km on the powertrain.
The downside to owning a Hyundai, at least in the past, has been a comparatively low owner approval rating, a poorer dealership experience, and a lower resale value. Last year, the CAA’s annual vehicle owner survey reported that 63% of Hyundai owners were very satisfied with their present vehicle compared to 86% of Toyota owners and 85% of Honda owners.
The same survey reported that 54% of Hyundai owners were very satisfied with their car dealership staff, compared to 69% of Toyota owners and 64% of Honda owners.
Another survey of resale values by Dennis DesRosiers, an independent Canadian automotive consultant, revealed that after five years of ownership, Hyundai automobiles maintained 38.3% of their original MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price). Though that’s close to the industry average of 38.4%, it is considerably less than Toyota’s 50.5% and Honda’s 51.0% resale value after five years. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the fact that you might have paid less for your Hyundai in the first place.
Sedan restyled, wagon discontinued
For 2001, the Elantra sedan has been completely redesigned, but the Elantra station wagon has been discontinued. The Wagon was a really practical vehicle for under $20,000, and I for one, am sad to see it go.
The 2001 Elantra sedan offers bolder styling than the previous model, which was last redesigned in 1996. I have to admit, I like the styling direction that Hyundai is following with the new Elantra and the bigger XG300. They both have a harmonious blend of contemporary and traditional styling influences. The Elantra’s bold nose includes headlights and turn signals enclosed under an aerodynamic clear plastic cover, and a V-shaped hood that blends purposely into the simple, chrome-trimmed grille. I particularly like the rear-end of the Elantra where the trunk lid stands taller than the tailights, resembling the old humped decklids of cars from the 30’s and 40’s.
More room on the inside
Exterior styling aside, the biggest improvement in the 2001 Elantra is an increase in interior room. The new Elantra is longer by 45 mm (1.7 in), wider by 20 mm (0.8 in.), and taller by 30 mm (1.2 in.). Also, the Elantra’s wheelbase is longer by 60 mm (2.4 in.). The cabin is wider, taller and longer, providing front and rear passengers with more legroom, headroom and hiproom. My impression is that the Elantra’s interior is roomier than the Civic, Corolla and Protégé, although I don’t have hard numbers to prove it.
The interior of the base GL model is not spartan, even though it starts at under $15,000. Its wide, cloth-covered front seats are comfortable and supportive, though I wasn’t as impressed with the rear bench seat. Big, simple white-on-black instruments, including a tachometer, are easy to read, and the three large, round twist-dials which control the heating and ventilation functions are simple to operate. The floor shift lever (for the automatic transmission) is nicely-positioned with easy-to-read large PRND32L letters. I liked the large interior door handles, simple Japanese-style stalk-mounted headlight and wiper controls, and pull handbrake lever to the right of the driver’s seat.
I didn’t like the look or operation of the standard AM/FM/CD stereo – the buttons are small and confusing – I recommend you don’t try and adjust this radio while you’re moving. However, the sound is terrific and it has a 24 pre-set station memory.
All Elantra’s come with standard 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks which increase cargo utility considerably – they are not lockable though. The 365 litre trunk, which has a remote trunk release, is wide and roomy with a low, bumper-height loading level.
Still a nimble performer
The last Elantra was a fun-to-drive car, and this one is even better. Though it’s about 83 kg (183 lb.) heavier, it still weighs only 1241 kg (2735 lb.) and it remains a nimble, spirited sedan with a sporty engine, a competent suspension, and decent, though not fantastic, brakes.
Under acceleration, the 140 horsepower 2.0 litre DOHC 16 valve four cylinder engine growls somewhat like a Toyota engine, but is very quiet on the highway. 0 to 100 km/h goes by in just 9.5 seconds, a bit faster than its Japanese competitors. Off-the-line acceleration is very responsive, and the new 4-speed automatic transmission, which now includes ‘intelligent’ electronic control, optimizes shift points to suit conditions – for example, it may skip a gear when accelerating up a steep hill.
The Elantra’s cabin is noticeably quieter than the previous model, a function of refinements to the engine, new hydraulic engine mounts, and improvements to the exhaust system.
Fuel consumption is good, but not at the top of its class: city consumption is 9.6 l/100 km (29 mpg), and highway fuel consumption is 6.5 l/100 km (43 mpg). Compare that to the Honda Civic’s fuel economy (with automatic transmission): City: 8.0 l/100 km (35 mpg), and Highway: 5.8 l/100 km (49 mpg).
In panic braking tests from 100 km/h to 0, the Elantra stops in 49 metres (161 feet), about average for this class of car. The Elantra has standard front disc/rear drum brakes, but anti-lock brakes are not available – nor are four wheel disc brakes.
The new Elantra has a tighter, more solid body than the previous model, and larger standard 195/60R-15 inch tires. Combined with a fully independent suspension (front MacPherson struts/rear dual links) and power assisted rack and pinion steering, the Elantra offers nimble road-holding without too much lean and responsive turn-in. Its longer wheelbase contributes to a more refined, comfortable highway ride. The Elantra makes a good suburban/urban commuter because of its comfortable, roomy interior, reasonable fuel consumption, compact size, and good outward visibility.
Pricing and features
Elantras come in two trim levels: GL and VE. Though completely redesigned for 2001, the base price hasn’t increased over 2000. The uplevel VE trim level has increased by $550 – still very reasonable for what’s offered.
Elantra GL sedans start at $14,875 (plus $375 freight) and include the following standard equipment: 2.0 litre 4 cylinder engine, 5 speed manual transmission, 15 inch tires and wheels, body-coloured bumpers, side mirrors with manual controls, dual de-powered front airbags and a front passenger seat detection system, cloth seats, power assisted rack and pinion steering and tilt steering wheel, AM/FM/CD audio system with four speakers, 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks, variable intermittent wipers, dual front cupholders and bottle holders in the door map pockets, centre console, front and rear ashtrays, rear defroster, and driver’s foot rest. GL sedans with a 4-speed automatic transmission are priced at $15,875.
Top-of-the-line Elantra VE sedans, for $17,525, add these features to the standard GL: four-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows with automatic driver’s-side down, power heated side mirrors, and power door locks – remote keyless entry is not offered.
The only options available on both GL and VE models are front fog lamps and a rear spoiler. Premium features such as CD changer, leather and alloy wheels are not available.
Standard safety features on all Elantras include four height-adjustable three-point seatbelts and a lap belt for the centre rear passenger. Front seatbelts have pre-tensioners to tighten the belt at the time of impact and force limiters to limit the tension on the body’s torso. Rear child door locks, and child seat anchors are also standard.
GL is best buy
For under $15,000, the base GL model is a really good buy. Air conditioning is available as a dealer installed option, but at more than $1600 for the kit and stallation, it only makes sense to do this if you absolutely must have a manual transmission. For automatic equipped cars it would be wiser to move up to the $17,525 VE model which also includes all the power options. With freight, taxes, and air conditioning tax, you’re looking at more than $20,000 for an Elantra VE. But that’s still less than many of its competitors.
|2001 Hyundai Elantra GL sedan|
|Price as tested||$15,875|
|Type||four-door, 5-passenger compact sedan|
|Layout||transverse front engine/front-wheel-drive|
|Engine||2.0 litre 4 cylinder, DOHC, 16 valves|
|Horsepower||140 @ 6000 rpm|
|Torque||133 @ 4800 rpm|
|Transmission||4-speed automatic (std. 5 speed manual)|
|Curb weight||1241 kg (2735 lb.)|
|Wheelbase||2610 mm (102.8 in.)|
|Length||4495 mm (177.0 in.)|
|Width||1720 mm (67.7 in.)|
|Height||1425 mm (56.1 in.)|
|Trunk space||365 litres (12.9 cu. ft.)|
|Fuel consumption||9.6 l/100 km (29 mpg)|
|6.5 l/100 km (43 mpg)|
|Warranty||3 yrs/60,000 km|
|Powertrain warranty||5 yrs/100,000 km|