2006 Hyundai Elantra

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2001 Hyundai Elantra

This 2001 review is representative of model years 1996 to 2006.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

Hyundai made great strides in 2001 when it redesigned its Elantra. The compact sedan looks good, rides pleasantly and is tough to beat in value for the dollar.
Pros:
  • Value for the dollar
  • Looks more expensive than it is
  • Pleasant ride
Cons:
  • Hyundai's past quality woes
  • So-so fuel economy
  • ABS is part of pricey option package

The window sticker on the 2001 Hyundai Elantra test car had an advertising tag line: "Driving Is Believing."

After a week of driving the newly redesigned and enlarged Elantra, I started to believe the ad slogan is true. I found myself believing other things, too—that South Korean automaker Hyundai is getting much, much better in initial vehicle quality, that a Hyundai can ride pleasantly and look good, and that this compact sedan is tough to beat in value for the dollar.

I wasn't expecting such revelations when the champagne-colored Elantra four-door sedan showed up at my door. It had been a while since I had been in an Elantra, and I recalled a rather plain car with a noisy and less-than-refined ride.

The 2001 test model was nothing like that.

Stylish looks
New styling has a European flair. A crisp crease along each side of the car and up-sized, 15-inch tires also are in keeping with contemporary car designs found on more expensive cars.

The new Elantra is 3.1 inches longer than the 2000 model. The wheelbase is longer, too, going from last year's 100.4 inches to 102.7 inches, and the car is a bit wider and taller.

All this helps improve interior room. Rear legroom is now 35 inches, which is more than the 33.2 inches in the back seat of a 2001 Toyota Corolla and the 34.4 inches in the back of a 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier. The Elantra's front legroom of 43.2 inches also is commendable, beating out the Corolla and Cavalier.

No raucous ride
Driving the Elantra around town and in rush-hour traffic, I quickly noticed how Hyundai worked to quiet the engine noise and vibration that usually made their way into the passenger compartment. Rather than the raucous, cheap ride I expected, I discovered a noticeable engine refinement not usually found in cars at this price.

Among the changes that Hyundai made for 2001 was adding hydraulic engine mounts to isolate the vibration from the engine compartment. It also substituted an aluminum oil pan for the old, steel oil pan, and a valve in the muffler system now helps reduce noise.

Frankly, I didn't notice much engine noise from the Elantra engine except when I accelerated.

The test car was the base Elantra, with a five-speed manual transmission that impressed with its adaptability and smoothness. There was no cheap notchiness to the gear shifter, either.

Decent engine power
Fitted with the only Elantra engine available—a 140-horsepower 2.0-liter double overhead cam four cylinder—the test car accelerated readily, not squealing tires but moving ahead confidently.

Torque of 133 lb-ft at 4800 rpm compares with the 126 lb-ft generated at 4000 rpm from the Corolla's 125-horsepower 1.8-liter four. The Cavalier offers 135 lb.-ft. at 3600 rpm in models with the base engine—a 115-horsepower 2.2-liter overhead valve four. The Cavalier also offers a larger 2.4-liter four with 150 horsepower and 155 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm.

But I did find the fuel economy for this compact car to be only so-so. The Elantra is rated at 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission.

Side airbags are standard
The front-drive Elantra handled most road bumps with ease, cushioning imperfections for an overall pleasant ride. Steering is a bit numb at center, but it's not out of character for a mainstream sedan.

I was impressed by the appearance and workings of the interior controls and displays on the test car. They had decent tactile and audible design and were easy to understand. The seat fabric was a bit busy, however.

The Elantra comes well equipped. Even with an under-$13,000 starting price, all Elantras have standard air conditioning; power door locks, mirrors and windows; a rear window defroster; a six-way, manually adjustable driver seat; locking head restraints for the four outboard riders; and split-folding rear seat.

Also standard are side airbags for front-seat passengers—a feature that's a $250 option on the Corolla and not available on the Cavalier.

But the Cavalier includes standard anti-lock brakes. Unfortunately, they're part of a $1,150 option package on the Elantra.

Newest generation Elantra
The 11-cubic-foot trunk isn't as large as those in the Corolla and Cavalier. And three adults would sit closely in the Elantra's back seat. But everyone gets a shoulder belt, and rear windows go down nearly all the way.

Long-term reliability for the third-generation Elantra isn't known at this early stage. But Hyundai spokesman Mike Anson said more than one-third of Elantra buyers said they're buying because of the company's warranty.

Designed to counter Hyundai quality issues of the past, the industry-leading package includes a five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and limited powertrain coverage of up to ten years and 100,000 miles for the original car owner. Hyundai also provides 24-hour roadside assistance for five years, with no mileage limit.

A final note: This is the tenth model year for the Elantra. It arrived in the United States in fall 1991 as a 1992 model.

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BB04 - 7/29/2014 2:49:40 AM