2021 Hyundai Elantra Preview

Christian Wardlaw | Mar 18, 2020
  • Complete redesign on new vehicle architecture
  • Debuts Parametric Dynamics design theme
  • SE, SEL, and Limited trim levels
  • Carryover powertrain
  • New Elantra Hybrid for 50 mpg or more
  • Performance-tuned Elantra N-Line is planned
  • High-tech instrumentation, infotainment, safety
  • Available smartphone as a key technology
  • Built in Alabama and South Korea
  • On sale in fall of 2020


Buying a compact car no longer means settling for less, as suggested by the redesigned 2021 Hyundai Elantra sedan.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited Red Front View

Sharply styled, equipped with the latest in technology, and offering enough interior and trunk space to serve a family, the new 2021 Hyundai Elantra will come in SE, SEL, and Limited trim levels. A Hyundai Elantra N-Line version will also join the ranks at a later date, while a new Elantra Hybrid that the company says will offer more than 50 miles per gallon in combined driving will be available from the start.

Exterior Features

In a statement, Hyundai said the all-new 2021 Elantra “returns to its sport sedan roots” with this redesign, but aside from the current Elantra Sport version, it’s never been a sport sedan. Longer, lower, and wider than previous Elantras, the new car does sport a rakish roofline, prompting the automaker to refer to the car as a 4-door coupe.

Hyundai says the 2021 Elantra sedan displays the company’s new Parametric Dynamics design detailing, which employs sharp creases and angles to convey a clean, technical aesthetic. “Having three lines meet at one point,” says Hyundai, “is the main element of Parametric Dynamics.”

Clearly, that meeting point is evident on the driver’s door, and Hyundai also points to the car’s “parametric-jewel-pattern grille” as an example of this approach. Wheel designs employ the tactic, too, and come in 15-, 16-, and 17-inch designs.

Overall, the Elantra’s looks and proportions are improved thanks to its shorter front overhang, longer wheelbase, lower roofline, and a cowl moved back two inches. In back, an H-shaped taillight graphic emphasizes the 2021 Elantra’s width.

Interior Features

Inside, the 2021 Elantra adopts what Hyundai is calling an Immersive Cocoon cabin layout. With the focus on the driver, a contrasting color band wraps around the lower portion of the cockpit from the door panels into the center console.

Oriented to emphasize the interior’s width, the dashboard is clean and uncluttered, with Hyundai’s latest 10.25-inch widescreen infotainment display cleverly integrated just to the right of the instrumentation, similar to the Hyundai Palisade and Sonata. The steering wheel resembles the one in the 2020 Sonata.

A wide band of air vents bisects the dashboard, separating the upper portion housing the instrumentation and display screen from the center console and lower portion of the car. Fabric door panel inserts, exposed stitching, and stereo tweeter speakers decorate the upper door panels in higher trim levels.

Seating is mounted lower in the car, which could make it harder to easily enter and exit the 2021 Elantra. Hyundai says the new Elantra boasts more front headroom and the same rear headroom as the previous car, plus claimed best-in-class rear legroom. Also, because the new Elantra is wider than the car it replaces, it has more shoulder room front and rear.

Open the trunk, and the 2021 Elantra offers 14.2 cu.-ft. of trunk space. That’s less than a typical midsize car but is competitive for the compact car segment.

Optional Features

Hyundai did not define 2021 Elantra trim level differences. However, in addition to features identified as optional elsewhere in this article, we know it will offer 64-color ambient lighting, wireless device charging, an 8-speaker Bose premium audio system, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel at extra cost to the buyer. You can also expect leather upholstery, or perhaps a simulated animal-free leatherette.

Under the Hood

The new Elantra has the same powertrain as the old Elantra. As such, the Elantra SE, SEL, and Limited have an Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter 4-cylinder generating 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque.

The only transmission is Hyundai’s Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT). The IVT is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that employs a wide-ratio pulley system with a chain-design belt instead of a more common push belt used in most CVTs. Hyundai says its Shift Control Strategy technology delivers a more natural feel and simulates gear changes by modulating the pressure of the transmission’s pulley.

Compared to the previous Elantra, the new 2021 Elantra should prove to be a little quicker and a bit more fuel efficient, in part because the car weighs less than it did before.

If fuel economy is really important to you, check out the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid, which the automaker says will get more than 50 mpg in combined driving.

The Elantra Hybrid uses an Atkinson-cycle 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, a 32-kW permanent magnet electric motor, and a 1.32-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery located under the back seat. Total system output measures 139 hp and 195 lb.-ft., and the Elantra Hybrid uses a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Hyundai says it also offers an electric-only driving mode.

Both Elantras have driver-selected Smart, Sport, and Normal driving modes. Hyundai also says the car’s new platform and lower seating positions result in a lower center of gravity for improved handling and promises a closer connection between the car and the driver in order to make the Elantra more fun.

To that end, revised steering and taut suspension tuning aim to deliver better handling through sharper response, minimized body roll, and enough compliance for a comfortable but connected ride quality. Notably, Hybrids get an independent rear suspension and standard 16-inch alloy wheels, while standard Elantras make do with a torsion beam rear axle suspension design.


Hyundai builds the 2021 Elantra on the same new third-generation vehicle architecture (K3) used for 2020 Sonata. In terms of safety, this is an improvement because it uses a multiload path structure to improve safety.

Standard advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) include forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, and lane centering assistance systems. The car also has a driver monitoring system, a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Optional ADAS includes a blind-spot warning system with active assistance, rear cross-traffic warning, and lane change assistance. The available adaptive cruise control system includes Highway Driving Assist, pairing the cruise control with lane centering assistance to make long drives easier.

Reverse automatic braking is also available, as well as Safe Exit Warning, which warns Elantra occupants that it might be unsafe to exit the car due to approaching traffic.


Hyundai says the 2021 Elantra will have a standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Bluetooth connectivity for two devices at the same time.

As an option, twin 10.25-inch multimedia screens reside under a single piece of glass. The digital instrumentation offers Utility, Driver Assistance, and Navigation views, while the widescreen infotainment screen includes three free years of Blue Link connected services.

Through Blue Link, the car’s navigation system is cloud-based with free updates during the first three years of ownership. It offers a bird’s eye view for the navigation map, and connected routing with multiple options and real-time route updates. Blue Link also offers remote engine starting, remote cabin temperature adjustment, remote door lock/unlock, a Car Finder service, and more, all through a smartphone app.

With the high-end infotainment system, a natural-language voice-recognition system is standard. It includes Speech-to-Meaning and Deep Meaning Understanding technologies, according to Hyundai, along with the ability to control many features using voice commands, including a wide range of climate functions.

Another impressive piece of technology, the available Hyundai Digital Key transforms your smartphone into the vehicle’s key. It works only for Android smartphones, though, which means Apple smartphone owners can use the included Near Field Communications (NFC) card until Hyundai and Apple can work out a deal to make iOS a part of the technology.

Hyundai Digital Key uses a dedicated mobile app, NFC, and Bluetooth Low Energy technology. Using your Android smartphone, you can unlock, start, and drive the car without physical key. Can also securely assign virtual keys to family members and friends, who can tailor and save vehicle settings and functions to specific preferences. You can revoke these privileges remotely, too.

Hyundai is the source of the information in this article. It was accurate as of March 17, 2020 but may have changed since that date.

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