1996 Hyundai Elantra
1996 Hyundai Elantra, Click image to enlarge

The 1996 second-generation Hyundai Elantra was another step forward in quality for this Korean auto company. Hyundai resale prices are generally lower (good for buyers) than competitive Japanese imports and the quality-gap is a lot tighter these days (also good for buyers).

Although known for low-priced, appealing products, poor quality Hyundai offerings back in the eighties, like the Pony and Stellar, had shaken consumer confidence in the brand. In recent years, Hyundai has made great strides in improving product quality and regaining market share. In fact, last year Hyundai was the hottest selling brand on the Canadian market and the Elantra deserves credit for a good chunk of that revival

Available in base GL and GLS trim levels the compact 1996 Elantra sedan, and a new wagon version, had smoother styling lines than the previous edition and a grille-less front. It was also longer by 205 mm (8 in.), wider by 76 mm (3 in.), and the wheelbase was stretched an additional 50 mm (2 in.), giving it a larger passenger cabin.

Under the hood 130-horsepower 1.8 litre DOHC, 16-valve four-cylinder engine replaced a 113-horsepower 1.6-litre motor. Other improvements included a fully independent suspension and a new rack and pinion power steering system.

The redesigned body also came with new safety features including dual air bags (optional on base models), side-door beams and height-adjustable front shoulder belts. The structural and safety improvements also contributed to much improved (NHTSA and IIHS) crash test results. Anti-lock (ABS) brakes were also available on the top-line GLS trim.

1996 Hyundai Elantra
1996 Hyundai Elantra

1996 Hyundai Elantra
1996 Hyundai Elantra
Click image to enlarge

No major changes were made until the 1999 model year, when it came with a new 140-hp 2.0-litre 4-cylinder, that’s also used in the Hyundai Tiburon. A front grille appeared again and there were some changes to the interior. A VE (value edition) Elantra trim level replaced the GLS trim level in 2000.

The 96/97 Elantra’s were recalled for windshield wipers that may stop working due to contaminated circuit breaker contacts and excessive purge vacuum inside the fuel tank may cause a distortion or a crack. Tanks should be inspected and a new vented fuel cap should be fitted. Automatic transmissions may have faulty pressure control solenoid valve seals in a ’99 Elantra and a poor connection between the Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor connector and its wiring harness may cause a low speed engine stall in a 1999 or 2000 Elantra.

If you’re looking for basic simple, reliable transportation a Hyundai Elantra is probably a good addition to the shopping list. Reasonable resale prices make a well cared for Elantra one of the better used-car buys on market right now.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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