Kelley Blue Book: The 2022 Hyundai Elantra shakes up the compact sedan class with bold styling and affordable pricing
Well-equipped base model
Hybrid and sporty versions
New Elantra N has 276 horsepower, manual gearbox
So-so base engine
Smaller trunk than the class best
Garage door opener becomes optional across the range
Track-tuned Elantra N joins the lineup
Price: The 2022 Hyundai Elantra starts at $19,950.
The 2022 Hyundai Elantra
has shaken up the compact sedan class with bold styling, generous equipment, and affordable pricing. And it’s only in the second year of its current generation.
This seventh-generation Elantra is also spacious, safe (top scores in crash tests), and cheap to own. Kelley Blue Book has already awarded it a Best Buy for its class as the best small car of 2021.
With models ranging from pleasantly capable to corner-carving, and a hybrid drivetrain in between, this newest Elantra has an appeal that’s broad and deep. Yet for all its good sense, there’s a classiness and presence that transcends the usual mainstream fare.
The new Elantra N is by far the sportiest model, and it’s available with a 6-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch 8-speed automated transmission with paddle shifters. With 276 hp from its turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and a sport suspension tuned at the famous Nürburgring in Germany, the new Elantra N is built for enthusiastic drivers, those who appreciate its traction-enhancing limited-slip front differential and stronger brakes.
The Hyundai Elantra
2022 Hyundai Elantra pricing
The most affordable version of the 2022 Elantra is the SE, with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $19,950, plus a destination charge. This could please a cost-conscious buyer easily, since it comes with comprehensive safety equipment, plus a reasonable amount of comfort and convenience features.
It’s only a $1,250 hop, however, to the next level, the SEL. Not only does this seem more civilized, it’s also eligible for a couple of options packages.
The Elantra Blue HEV hybrid starts at $23,850. And the sporty N Line (not to be confused with the Elantra N) is priced from $24,350.
The Limited versions of the 2022 Elantra come in a bit higher, with the HEV variant coming in at $28,350. There really aren’t many ways to make this car more expensive.
The new Elantra N starts at $31,900 with a 6-speed manual transmission. The 8-speed automatic transmission is another $1,500.
Looking at the competition, the Elantra has a minor price advantage against the big guns. The new-for-2022 Honda Civic
starts at around $22,000, with the Toyota Corolla
priced similarly. The Nissan Sentra
and Kia Forte
(possibly to be renamed the K3) are more in the Elantra’s fiscal lane.
Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid for their new Elantra. According to our calculations, the Hyundai Elantra is a top compact car choice from the perspective of ownership over five years.
Also read: A 40-year mortgage? One Fed official thinks it’s a good idea. But others say it’s a risky proposition.
Driving the 2022 Hyundai Elantra
The 2.0-liter engine in the majority of 2022 Elantra variants is tuned with more of a preference for fuel economy than motoring kicks. That’s only a slight criticism. An efficient, cheap-to-run commuter car isn’t obliged to be a thrill machine at the same time.
The hybrid model is more impressive, though. Not only is it incredibly smooth in the way it transitions from gasoline to electric power and back, it also develops the same amount of thrust as the warmly sporty N Line, which is great for moving off from a standstill.
Versions with the 2.0-liter engine have a relatively simple rear suspension (torsion beam), while everything else comes with a multi-link rear setup. To Hyundai’s credit, they both deliver calm, controlled, and comfortable rides.
Those happy with a zippy 201 horsepower in the N Line also have the chance to get to grips with a 6-speed stick shift. The clutch is light and the lever snicks into gear easily, providing extra driver engagement as well as the fun challenge of making it all as smooth as possible. It can be done.
Where the N Line imparts a subtle whiff of sportiness to the Elantra, the full-on Elantra N model is legitimately track-worthy. The N’s 276-horsepower engine and trick electronic front differential produce commendable acceleration despite only sending power to the front tires. During our test at Sonoma Raceway, we found the Elantra N to be a raucous good time, blending stout handling chops with playful steering.
The Elantra N’s fun-loving nature translates well to the street, thanks to a relatively smooth ride facilitated by its electronically adjustable suspension. There’s also a popping, burbling exhaust tone that adds excitement to otherwise dull commutes. If you prefer to lay low, this exuberant exhaust can be dialed down.
It’s roomy in the 2022 Elantra. Total interior space measures 113.6 cubic feet. Admittedly, that’s a bit abstract, but the new-generation Honda Civic has 99.6 cubic feet. Comparing rear legroom, the Elantra’s 38 inches is close to midsize sedan dimensions. The Civic offers 37.4 inches.
Naturally, the Limited trim is the most posh. It includes a dual-screen arrangement similar to Mercedes-Benz. One 10.25-inch display is for driver information. This is connected physically to a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen.
The only downside to this (apart from the extra cost over a more reasonably priced 2022 Elantra) is that Apple
CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration requires a cable. With the 8-inch touchscreen in lower trims, it’s all done wirelessly.
Trunk space measures 14.8 cubic feet. If this is a crucial aspect, check out the Kia Forte with 15.3 cubic feet.
The interior of the Elantra N is distinguished by an N-exclusive steering wheel and shifter, plus lowered N sport seats and door scuff panels. There’s even a button on the steering wheel (dual-clutch transmission only) that raises the engine’s peak output up to 286 horsepower for up to 20 seconds.
The front seatbacks of the Elantra N are much thinner than those of a standard Elantra, improving rear legroom.
Also on MarketWatch: My husband and I bought a retirement condo in 2008, and he died two years later. The condo is worth $50,000 more than we paid. Should I sell it now or wait?
Hyundai isn’t afraid to take a risk. While some compact sedans seem like they were designed by committee and watered down further by feedback from focus groups, the 2022 Elantra strikes a different pose.
We might be reading too much into this, but it seems like the new Elantra was designed by someone who’s really good at origami and is a big fan of Zorro. Take a look at all the folds in the metal and the Z-shaped slashes down the sides. In any case, there’s a good chance the car could attract many people because it’s so audacious.
Alloy wheel sizes range from 15 to 18 inches. The N Line has its own black-finished grille treatment, along with various aerodynamic additions and an exclusive alloy wheel design.
The new Elantra N’s exterior is distinguished by a front lip spoiler, plus an N-exclusive red strip on the base of the front fascia that continues around to the side valances. The N also has an exclusive rear wing, along with a rear diffuser and dual exhaust outlets.
Also see: The 9 things that are most likely to affect your auto insurance rates
Available from the SEL trim and up, there are three levels of services with a Blue Link subscription (which is free for the first three years). These include automatic collision notification, SOS assistance, remote lock/unlock, remote start/climate set, stolen vehicle recovery, and valet alerts.
Hyundai digital key
For the first time in a mainstream compact sedan, Hyundai offers the convenience of using a smartphone to unlock and start the car, then lock it at journey’s end. At the moment, it only works with Android phones. We’ll be more impressed when Apple iPhones become compatible.
Despite the keen price, the SE version doesn’t force buyers to pay extra for safety features. This car comes with forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, and several other systems.
The infotainment setup includes an 8-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, two USB ports, Bluetooth, and four speakers.
Other standard items include 15-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, air conditioning, and LED daytime running lights.
The entry-level Elantra hybrid — Blue — adds heated front seats, heated side mirrors, and a more sophisticated rear suspension in addition to its specific drivetrain.
In addition to 19-inch wheels with grippy Michelin summer tires, the new Hyundai Elantra N is equipped with a matte-black grille, a leatherette interior, and heated front seats.
The rear seat of the N model is not split 60/40, as it is in other Elantras. It does fold forward, but access to the trunk is blocked partly by model-specific bracing that contributes to the vehicle’s significantly superior chassis rigidity.
Other standard hardware on the new Elantra N includes a limited-slip front differential, electronically adjustable sport suspension, 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, navigation, 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, and bigger front brake discs with high-friction pads.
We recommend the SEL trim because of its extra convenience features such as keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, illuminated vanity mirrors, Blue Link connectivity, satellite radio, and a 6-speaker audio system. It also comes with 16-inch alloy wheels and is the only model in the 2022 Elantra range to offer extra packages.
A Convenience package adds adaptive cruise control, a more advanced forward-collision avoidance system, a 10.25-inch driver display, wireless phone charging, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and heated front seats. The Premium package brings 17-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, power-adjustable driver’s seat, Hyundai Digital Key, 60/40 split/folding rear seats, and an 8-speaker Bose audio system.
Beyond this, choices go off in different directions. For extra sportiness, the N Line and Elantra N have things like bigger brakes and model-specific steering wheels.
Limited versions are the most luxurious, bringing more driver tech, leather seating surfaces, and a larger touchscreen. They also have the contents of the SEL’s option packages. The hybrid variant of this top trim adds heated/ventilated front seats.
The main option for the new Elantra N is the 8-speed automatic transmission, which features a dual-clutch setup. There are also shift paddles, and a sunroof.
Don’t miss: How much more gas is costing for every type of vehicle — see how yours stacks up
Engine and transmission
The main engine in the 2022 Elantra — propelling SE, SEL, and Limited versions — is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit making 147 horsepower. That’s a modest amount, but similar to some rivals.
This engine connects to a continuously variable automatic transmission. All versions of the 2022 Elantra deploy front-wheel drive.
Hybrid (HEV) models pair a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor energized by a lithium-ion polymer battery, for a total output of 139 horsepower. Shifting the HEV’s gears is a 6-speed dual-clutch automated transmission.
Learn more: What is EV, BEV, HEV, PHEV? Here’s your guide to types of electric cars
The N Line brings a turbocharger to the party, creating 201 horsepower from a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. Unusual for cars in the 21st century, this model comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission. For those who prefer just two pedals in their footwell, the N Line offers the option of a 7-speed dual-clutch automated transmission, which also brings better fuel economy.
The Elantra N has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that sends 276 horsepower to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox or an optional 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. With the touch of button, the N also enables an overboost function adding another 10 horsepower for a maximum of 20 seconds.
2.0-liter inline-4 (SE, SEL, Limited)
147 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
132 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 33/43 mpg (SE), 31/41 mpg (SEL & Limited)
1.6-liter inline-4/permanent magnet synchronous electric motor (HEV)
139 horsepower total output
195 horsepower total output
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 53/56 mpg (Blue), 49/52 mpg (Limited)
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 (N Line)
201 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
195 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (manual), 28/36 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Elantra N)
276 horsepower @ 5,500-6,000 rpm
289 lb-ft of torque @ 2,100-4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg (manual), 20/30 mpg (automatic)
This story originally ran on KBB.com.