AS GOOD AS IT GETS
2013 Hyundai Elantra GT
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Thu, Mar 21, 2013
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Story by Doug Stokes This one set a new track record for fewest road notes taken on a review vehicle since I started writing about new cars in 1981. That’s because I was flat knocked out by the sort of content and competence that this car showed me in the first few feet of the first block that I drove it. In fact here’s the bottom line first: I asked for an extra day in this one just so I could try to find anything wrong, chintzy, cheap, crummy, or clumsy. And I could not, in fact. The new Elantra GT is as good as it looks and it looks very smart. Looking at my photos (maybe our editor has some better ones from Hyundai PR) I’m unhappy with all of them, this is a clean, cohesive 4-door hatchback GT with honest looks. My photos of this GT simply do not do this car’s looks or its athletic, eager stance any justice at all. The amount of homework that the Hyundai designers and product planners have done here is double stunning. The balance between price, promise, and what one’s hard-earned $20K nets in what we once would have called an economy car, is better than impressive.
The watchword of course here is content. The new GT’s build sheet on this one leaves nothing out and even adds things that some far more expensive cars don’t have (yet) like offering three different steering ratios: yeah, driver selectable steering modes at the touch of a button. We (being a sporty person who daylights as the communications VP for a well-known NASCAR short track near Los Angeles) just left the switch in “Sport” for the whole eight-day test drive (but you can sample all three). Electronic steering now allows tuning the steering response the way the e-controlled automatic transmissions have allow smooth and/or sporty gear changing, and that’s cool. I’m long on record as calling variable valve timing one of the great innovations of modern engine design. I first experienced it in a $90,000.00+ Mercedes many years ago. And, though the under-two liter (1.8 to be exact) four cylinder engine in the Hyundai Elantra GT is rather modestly-rated at 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque, and, I am here to tell you that it not only feels like more (much more), this quick car gets up and moves as if it has half again as much of both torque and hp. Hyundai’s Dual-Continuous Variable Valve Timing backed up by an equally-adaptive six-speed automatic transmission made all the difference in the drive. This car is a joy to accelerate, exciting in fact. You will never feel out-gunned on the freeway—ever. Of course a near 7,000 RPM redline makes the fun even better. Technology is working well here.
And, about that smart six-speed automatic: there is a semi-manual mode available that will be handy on mountain roads and such, but leaving the selector in “D” and just letting your right foot talk, works wonderfully too. Again, and in a multitude of places, the detail (like giving one the option on shifting gears) is the Hyundai’s strong suit; everything in complete package is included. As far as driver accommodations, this one is as comfortable as and easy to figure out as anything that I’ve driven lately. The front seats are covered in a handsome cloth pattern and are both heated. The steering wheel must set a new record for the number of function switches (where’s Lewis Hamilton when you need him?), nine little blue lights (that light up at night) to work the radio, the cruise control, the Bluetooth phone, and a couple of other functions. And speaking of switches and small stuff, every time that I look for a switch, hook, latch, light, or other detail, it’s right where it should be, shaped to the purpose and logical. That’s a good thing too. Honestly, short of a sunroof and a trunk that doubles as a convection microwave, there is nothing on my want list that is missing in this $20,000.00 ticket. And that includes: fog lights, sleek alloy wheels, air-conditioning, a AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 6-speaker entertainment system, remote keyless entry, 60/40 split rear seat (with great head and shoulder room for full-size peeps), four-wheel disc brakes, stability control, electronic brake force (excellent stopping control here) distribution, a nice solar glass windshield, and much more.
We had a week that kept us from any long trips and only let us put a bit over 250 miles on this new GT version of the very popular Elantra so our fuel mileage “varied”. The window sticker says: 27 city / 37 highway and I agree that the 30 miles per gallon that the government people postulate as the overall average MPG is a very achievable number. Our sticker only has one optional extra (and one mandatory) added to the $19,395.00 full boat and that is ninety-five bucks for carpeted floor mats and the inevitable inland freight and handling charge of $775.00 (which I feel is fair since the car is assembled in Ulsan, Korea … and that’s SOUTH Korea by the way). Looks 10, dance 10: As I said earlier I cannot see any flaws in this 20 thousand dollar car—anywhere. Adding to my good sense of the machine is the hard fact that, if I’ve missed anything Hyundai’s best-in-the-business warranties are there and in place to right any wrongs. 10 years/100,000 miles on the powertrain, six years/60,000 miles overall, and seven years/unlimited mileage anti-perforation (that’s basically rust-out neighbors). Add a government-issued 5-star overall safety rating and you start asking yourself, “How do they do it?” -DS For more information about Hyundai products, go to hyundaiusa.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Price: $18,545 (base) $20,265 (as tested, includes automatic transmission, floor mats and inland freight and handling) EPA fuel economy ratings: 27 mpg (city)/37 mpg (highway)/30 mpg (combined) Engine: 1.8 liter DOHC 4-in-line and 16-valves with dual continuous variable valve timing Horsepower: 148 @ 6500 rpm Torque: 131 pound-feet @ 4700 rpm Transmission: 6-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC sequential manual mode Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Steering: Power-assisted rack and pinion Suspension: Four-wheel independent with front McPherson struts and rear torsion beam and stabilizer bars Dimensions Length: 169.3 inches Width: 70.1 inches Height: 57.9 inches Curb weight: 2745 pounds