The 2021 Hyundai Elantra and its hybrid version were unveiled for the first time in 2020 to some considerable fanfare for the apparent “segment firsts” they promised at the time. We took the 2021 Elantra Limited out on the road to see how it fared.
High-End Looks at Great-Value Prices
We tested the Limited trim, but there are six in total, from the entry-level SE trim starting at just $20,655 to the Limited Hybrid starting at $29,105. The Limited is the top-end of the spectrum outside of the hybrid model, and sits above the sportier N Line model. Both the exterior and interior of the Elantra Limited are fantastic to behold. They have the look of a much pricier car.
The exterior comes in seven different colors, and is accented with a beautiful mix of angular lines and curves. The Limited gets a rather fetching dark chrome front grille as standard, as well as body-color door handles, LED front and rear lights with automatic headlight control, all riding on 17-inch alloy wheels.
Stunning Interior Quality & Design
On the inside, the attraction continues with leather-trimmed seating, including a 6-way power adjustable driver seat with lumbar support and a 4-way power-adjustable passenger seat. All the front seats are heated as standard on the Limited. The driver gets a 10.25” high-res infotainment touchscreen, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus your friends will love sharing their favorite playlist through the Bose premium 8-speaker audio system which was better than expected.
Another big plus point from the driver’s perspective is the flawlessly stunning digital instrument cluster, which outshines many of its 2021-model-year rivals. On top of that, the steering wheel is very sporty, comfortable in-hand and becomes a fun part of the driving experience.
In pure looks and style, the Elantra seems to get just about everything right, and the interior technology offering is very impressive. When it comes to performance, however, it’s a bit more of a mixed bag. First of all, the Limited trim comes with the same standard 2.0L inline-4 engine as the lower SE and SEL models. It outputs 147-hp and 132 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a Smartstream Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) which is their equivalent of a CVT, essentially.
We found this arrangement a little disappointing when it came to actually driving the Limited. The engine is weak for a car that is in every other way the very top of the trim ladder. A somewhat more premium engine option for the Limited would make more sense in our view. There is a hybrid option for those looking for maximum efficiency, but what really caught our attention was the engine offering for the sportier N Line model.
While being cheaper than the Limited, the N Line comes with a smaller but more powerful engine. It’s loaded with a 1.6L inline-4 but with some key differences. First the compression ratio is 10.0:1 compared to 12.5:1 in the other two engines. Another is that it features gasoline direct injection (GDI) instead of the multi-point fuel injection on the Limited and SEL. Furthermore, you get a more dynamic experience thanks to the 6-speed manual transmission offering in the N Line or you can opt for the sporty 7-speed automatic dual-clutch. The turbocharge N-Line engine is rated at 201-hp and 195 lb-ft at just 1500 rpm.
The Limited is a little weak on engine and transmission, but thrives in just about every other sense. To get the most of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra, we recommend either getting the N Line for a sportier ride or the hybrid model for greater all-round efficiency and performance. Kudos to Hyundai for creating a superb-value sedan for 2021.