2016 Hyundai Elantra GT: Refreshed, roomy, rough ride

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Joining a competitive segment, the five-door Hyundai Elantra GT debuted four years ago. The 2016 edition has a few upgrades, including bolder exterior and interior styling, re-tuned power steering and an expanded optional technology package.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

Seeking its place in the increasingly popular compact hatchback segment, the 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT is one offered with one trim. It’s a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder with 173 horsepower and six-speed manual transmission. Its new styling includes a more aggressive grille and a streamlined roof.

My weekly driver featured the optional six-speed automatic transmission and a lengthy list of standard features that positions the Elantra GT well against top competitors like the top-selling Volkswagen Golf, Mazda3, Ford Focus and Kia Forte.

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The 2016 Hyundai Elantra has a restyled exterior design. Images © James Raia/2015

With its base price price of just under $20,000, the Elantra warrants strong attention for two reasons. It’s a compact with the interior spaciousness of some midsize vehicles and it has a vast standard equipment list. It features: 16-inch wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a height-adjustable driver seat, heated front seats, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker CD player with satellite radio, a USB/iPod input and an auxiliary audio jack.

My weekly driver also featured the Style ($1,995) and Tech ($3,950) packages. The features are worthy, but the nearly $6,000 additional price vaults the Elantra past $25,000 plateau. And that takes the Hyundai away from bargain status into likely giving the other vehicles in the segment a second look.

The Style package incorporates 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, keyless entry and ignition, a power driver seat (with lumbar support), leather upholstery with matching leather steering wheel and shift-knob covers, and aluminum pedals.

Also included is Blue Link, Hyundai’s subscription-based telematics system that incorporates features like remote unlocking via a smartphone app, SOS emergency assistance, automatic crash notification and monthly vehicle health reports.

The Tech package (available only on automatic-transmission models with the Style package) includes a 7-inch touchscreen navigation system incorporating an upgraded version of Blue Link, which enables features like remote start and Google-based destination search.

The navigation system also incorporates Siri Eyes Free voice control for Apple devices, Pandora Internet radio and a back-up camera. Automatic headlights, LED taillights, dual-zone climate control, ventilated front seats and a panoramic sunroof are also part of the package.

Driving the Elantra GT is a mix of surprising comfort with performance disappointment.

There’s plenty of front and rear seat room, enough that the Elantra is oddly categorized as a compact. And the car is attractive inside and outside.

But driving the Elantra also takes patience and a willingness accept mediocre acceleration and a noisy ride at freeways speeds in exchange for overall comfort.

That’s not a bad choice, considering compact cars are rarely purchased to set land speed records. The tweaked new design of the Elantra also gives it the appearance of looking faster than it is, which is a compliment.

Likes:

Spacious interior for segment.
Quality interior and exterior construction.
Best warranty in the industry.

Dislikes:

Should have better gas mileage.
Not the smoothest ride.
Sluggish acceleration.

Facts & Figures: 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT

Acceleration: 0-60 mph: Unavailable.
Airbags: 7.
Fuel economy: 24 mpg (city), 33 mpg (highway), 27 mpg (combined) six-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 173.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $19,800.00
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.hyundaiusa.com.
Price As Tested: $26,6750.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 7 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Say:

“If you’re in the market for a compact car that will delight both your sense of style and practicality, check out the 2016 Hyundai Elantra. The sedan looks like a high-priced midsize, while the sporty 5-door GT offers improved versatility without sacrificing efficiency or comfort.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“Hatchback shoppers would still be wise to look at some of the other entries we’ve listed in this review — not to mention other powertrain choices, ranging from diesel power to full electrics.  But as the hatchback market heats up, the refreshed 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT remains a strong value-conscious and style-heavy contender.” — NYDailyNews.com.

“This Elantra GT has a more mature and refined look, something the brand has been spreading across its entire lineup.” — Topspeed.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“The 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT follows suit with the manufacturer’s continued improvements throughout its lineup. With further improved gas mileage and a smoother overall rider, the refreshed Elantra would be at the top of its segment. “

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