I find myself yet again in Toronto, and this time I’ve decided not to get anything fancy and just get a cheap rental for the week. I ended up getting a 2016 Hyundai Elantra, and if there’s a list of top inconspicuous cars, the Hyundai Elantra would probably be right up there with other cheap compact sedans and hatchbacks. So why did I even bother to include it on a website called Standout Cars? Well, the truth is the Hyundai Elantra isn’t a standout car in the attention-grabbing sense. But as far as buying a cheap, value for money type of car that promises decent fuel economy, low maintenance cost, and reasonable levels of equipment, the Elantra is a strong contender.
It’s all good being easy on the bank account, but what if it’s cheap for a reason? What if it’s cheap because it simply isn’t that good? Well, the design is non-offensive, definitely a better effort than the Elantra it replaces, and dare I say it looks pretty from some angles as well – even in this rental car’s white paint and plastic hubcaps combination.
Some specs and equipment
This Elantra is the GL model, which means it comes with equipment like: heated front seat, XM radio, USB and AUX slots, a CD player, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, audio and telephone controls, cruise control, as well as Bluetooth connectivity. It’s powered by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine that has 145hp and 130 lb-ft of torque. This particular car has the optional six-speed automatic transmission, which means claimed fuel economy figures of: 8.5l/100km in the city, 6.3l/100km on the highway, and 7.5l/100km on the combined cycle.
The drive and the inside
When you’re inside the Elantra, you do feel like you have decent levels of equipment. Everything is easy and intuitive to use, although some materials are admittedly low budget. The driver controls such as the brakes, steering and gearshift are all effortless to use. The brakes respond well to your inputs, reacting with minimal brake pedal travel. The electric power-assisted steering is devoid of feel, but being a light and easy unit is what’s most important to most buyers of small compact sedan. The combination of a light steering, compactness and good all-round visibility means that it’s very easy to place this car in tight parking spaces as well.
You can seat four average-sized adults in absolute comfort; even five would fit reasonably well. Also the trunk is surprisingly spacious for a car of its size – I could easily fit two big suitcases and a few other small bags. The only true disappointment of the interior is the sound system – with the sound quality being quite weak, there’s not enough bass or satisfying levels of adjustability for those who enjoy listening to music on their drives.
The car rides well enough and is comfortable for the most part, but the suspension does feel quite soft at times – rebounding noticeably over certain speed bumps and through broken tarmac of some of Toronto's highways. The gearbox works well and is a smooth unit for your daily commutes, but it can feel a bit too eager to downshift at what seem like modest presses to the gas pedal. The engine is also a good partner, feeling adequately powered for the masses and frugal. It also starts up very quickly on those cold Canadian early spring mornings (overnight temperatures were anywhere between -6 to -10 degrees C), with barely two cranks before firing up.
Why a 2016 Elantra?
The bottom-line is that the 2016 Hyundai Elantra is one of the most affordable, relatively new cars to buy and run, and that's what makes it stand out. Having been recently phased out means you can still find mildly used to nearly new examples that still have a few more years of the manufacturer’s warranty left (five years/100,000km). A low-mileage certified pre-owned 2016 example like this rental car – with less than 20,000km – can cost as little as CAD 14,999. If you don’t mind extra mileage then you can get a certified 2015 example with less than 50,000km for as little as CAD 11,999.
Written by Alex Kisiri