2014 Hyundai Elantra SE Oh That Is Sweet>

Oh, that’s sweet, I silently exclaimed when I first saw the 2014 Hyundai Elantra SE waiting at the Chicago curb. Geranium red with gray interior is a rich look for a midlevel sedan, which the Elantra certainly is.

With its price tag of $20,110, the front-wheel-drive Elantra SE sedan is equipped with a “preferred package” of 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, 4.3-inch crisp color display with rearview camera, steering wheel audio and phone controls, auto headlights, fog lights, movable armrest along with carpeted floor mats. This Elantra hits all the right marks.

A 1.8-liter four-cylinder inline engine is standard on the SE model, which is the entry level product in this lineup; the luxury Limited model uses this same engine while Sport models have a 2L direct-injected engine with 173 horsepower. The 1.8L has 145 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 130 lb-ft of torque at 4700, so it’s able to scoot quite nicely. Hyundai fits a true 6-speed shiftable automatic with gear ratios weighted toward fuel economy – Hyundai’s ECO setting helps as well.
Over the road this vehicle’s running gear makes it a perfect travel partner. Driving from Chicago’s O’Hare airport to the outskirts of Indianapolis was an easy exercise, even in rush-hour traffic. I kept the car on the active ECO program throughout the week we worked together and that helped elevate mileage from the 12.8-gallon tank past the 28/38/32 mpg estimated by the EPA. Using regular fuel, I was getting closer to 35-36 through Indianapolis as I battled crowds to and from Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis road-course race the first weekend of May. Mileage on the trip from Chicago was over 39mpg!
The 2014 Hyundai Elantra uses MacPherson front and torsion axle rear suspension with stabilizer bars at both ends. I love the driver selectable steering mode and kept it on sport throughout – this makes for a more direct steering experience with a turning circle of 34.78 feet, curb to curb. All-wheel disc brakes are fitted and stop the Elantra SE promptly. Hyundai states the car weighs between 2,819-2,943 pounds depending on options; this car had few and likely gravitates to the lower number.

I also felt extremely safe as the 2014 Hyundai Elantra SE has five-star ratings for its safety – and this car’s 10-year warranty gets it plaudits throughout the industry. That warranty was originally enacted to give Hyundai a bit more credence in the marketplace as original quality was suspect when the brand first appeared on US shores; today Hyundai products can outpace their Japanese counterparts in most every aspect and the warranty, while very nice, isn’t quite the selling point it once was.

Inside are comfortable and supportive manual seats, good covered storage in the movable central console and covered storage at the base of the center stack with USB, aux and 12-volt plugs. There’s a second 12-volt on the passenger side of the tunnel. Hyundai fits cup holders in all four doors and in the pull-down armrest. Access to the pop-open trunk is only though a release next to the driver’s door where the fuel release is located.
There’s a good 60/40 fold to the rear seats. The trunk itself is large at 14.8 cubic feet, which can be easily expanded by folding those seats. The trunk is very well fitted with carpet. There is no spare but there’s a kit and good below-floor storage.

Hyundai fits three bands of satellite radio to keep driver and passengers sated on longer trips and around town. There’s also two FM and a single AM band on the audio as well as a CD player. I found the audio system quite competent and I liked the steering wheel controls for it (on the left along with phone controls) and the cruise/trip computer activities on the right. The steering wheel tilts but doesn’t telescope; even so a proper driving position is easy to find.

I loved the swoopy lines of the 2014 Hyundai Elantra SE with its bold shoulders and upswept rear. The chrome accents give this four-door sedan quite a bit of elegance and all the wonderful values inside and out make it a winner in its class. For the price the Elantra SE is tough to beat – and it’s good to know this Hyundai’s driving capabilities are equally as nice as its entry fee.

By Anne Proffit