As we inch closer to a future of more Electric Vehicles (EVs), Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) are a winning recipe that touts some of the best fuel mileage numbers we’ve seen in vehicles like the latest Hyundai Elantra Hybrid.
After experiencing many variations of the new seventh generation Hyundai Elantra, including the raucous performance-oriented Elantra N, there’s a lot of respect for the brand’s compact sedan and many welcome it with open arms for the affordable segment. Now, in experiencing the new Elantra HEV, there’s even more respect earned for a vehicle that often surpasses its EPA-estimated fuel consumption numbers in the real world to best most of its competition.
The new Hyundai Elantra for its seventh generation already has an excellent platform as I have experienced in many previous reviews of the vehicle in its gas-powered non-hybrid trim levels. Having the hybrid version of the Elantra this week takes a different approach for the platform where it utilizes its sleek design to benefit from decent aerodynamics having a drag coefficient of 0.28 retaining much of the sleek looks of other trim levels. The Elantra Hybrid comes in two trim levels, Blue and Limited. My Limited trim gets updated LED headlights, a dark chrome front grille, and larger 17-inch alloy wheels.
Performance and Driving Character
Having a solid platform to work with, the Hyundai Elantra Hybrid feels decent out on the road only hampered by a powertrain that isn’t very eager to get things moving. Working with the combined power output of 139 horsepower there isn’t much to inspire performance. However, the hybrid system seems to fill the power void areas of its 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that by itself produces 104 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque, which then equates to a total of 195 lb-ft of torque. Power is directed to the front wheels only and the transmission is a neat choice of a 6-speed automated dual-clutch that does well to manage the power where you often don’t notice the shifting, which is a good thing.
The electric motor alone can produce 43 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque which helps get the Elantra Hybrid out of the hole initially pretty well but isn’t followed up with anything substantial as you climb past 25 mph and up to 60 mph, which takes about 8.8 seconds to hit 60 mph from a stop. Fundamentally, you’re not going to win any races with the Elantra Hybrid, but it is zippy enough to not be dangerous.
The handling and ride quality seems to make up for the lackluster bit of power where the Elantra Hybrid handles well feeling like the chassis can handle a lot more along with having a decent ride quality and stability at Interstate speeds. The only fault I find in the drivetrain, apart from the Elantra Hybrid not exactly being “quick,” is the braking feel sometimes is not as seamless as I would like in its transitions from the regenerative braking and use of the friction brakes. Otherwise, the hybrid system works wonderfully keeping a decent reserve of battery power and often utilizing the battery power over the engine to retain most speeds.
The Elantra Hybrid’s sophistication is often a seamless experience where you hardly notice transitions from the electric motor to the gas engine, or gear shifts for that matter. There’s a welcomed quietness also where the Elantra Hybrid feels almost premium even with the gas engine running. When the gas engine shuts down the only sounds you hear are the eco-friendly tires and a faint bit of wind noise.
The new Hyundai Elantra Hybrid shines for its exceptional fuel economy where the EPA estimates of 49 mpg city, 52 mpg highway, and 50 mpg combined, which are often bested in real-world driving. I saw my highway figure as high as 54 mpg and in the city, I saw an average of 52.4 mpg. The hybrid system is easy to learn for its engine engagements and allows you to muster out better mpg numbers with some smart planning on your drives. With those figures, you get an exceptional range of up about 572 miles on just one 11-gallon tank of regular unleaded fuel.
The only thing I wish Hyundai would do is mark on the power meter how much throttle you can give the vehicle to utilize the battery power before it kicks over to the gas engine. Such a marking on the power gauge like Toyota does would help as far as power management to potentially get even better mpg out of the Elantra Hybrid, which is already a surprise to beat out the EPA figures.
Interior and Technology
Having covered where the new Hyundai Elantra is a winning formula for a compact sedan, I’m happy to see that the interior remains virtually the same in the new Elantra Hybrid. There aren’t any surprising aspects about the Interior being any different than other Elantra gas-powered non-hybrid trims in the new Elantra HEV. There’s a welcoming space in the cabin of the Elantra with a surprising amount of space for a compact sedan and a lot of forward and rearward adjustment for the heated and ventilated front seats allowing you to find the optimal driving position – even for someone who is over 6 feet tall like myself.
There’s the welcomed infotainment system in the Elantra Hybrid featuring the 10.25-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster replaces where the RPM gauge is usually displayed with the hybrid power meter.
In the area of safety, the new Elantra Hybrid comes with all of the expected active safety features minus a surround-view 360 camera in place of a traditional rearward camera view, which removes the availability of the clever live-view blind-spot monitor system. Otherwise, you still have the welcoming blind-spot monitors, lane departure warning/keep assist, lane following assist, driver attention warning, safe exit warning, forward collision warning/emergency braking, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, and smart cruise control with stop & go and a highway driving assist feature.
Further making the Hyundai Elantra Hybrid a winning recipe, the pricing for the base Blue trim starts at just $24,400 whereas the loaded-up Elantra Hybrid Limited trim comes in at $29,000 before any fees where you will be expected to pay almost $31,000 when you tally up the destination/freight charges.