Hyundai Chooses New York for Worldwide Elantra Sedan Reveal
Elantra Owners Helped Introduce the New Car
Hyundai’s Elantra gets a major change for the 2007MY, with sales in fall 2006 after a worldwide introduction at the 2006 New York auto show in April. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents were there to get a first look at the new car. Though this reveal was not as dramatic as the fashion show that surrounded the Audi TT’s introduction or the mud-covered Jeep Wrangler unveiling, Hyundai cleverly brought in real Elantra owners to help introduce the new car and gave the presentation a real-world touch.
Wrangler and TT introductions no doubt ranked higher on enthusiasts’ interest scale in New York, but to put this into perspective, Hyundai sold about 109,900 Elantra sedans in 2005 compared with Jeep Wrangler sales of about 79,000 units and Audi TT sales of about 2,800 units (down in part as the Audi ramps up for the new model). The Elantra has been no slouch for Hyundai, and will be a strong contributor to the brand’s goal of breaking the 500,000-unit sales mark in 2006.
Hyundai owners are also satisfied enough to be repeat buyers, making the Elantra a winner by many yardsticks. Since the 2007MY change brings an improved and refined Elantra that the company wisely kept close in spirit to the outgoing product, there is no reason that the new-for-2007MY Elantra will not continue to win over more Hyundai owners.
Hyundai also took the opportunity to remind us that, with Elantra sales, they will have fulfilled their promise of seven new models in twenty-four months. The promise was made in 2004, and the Elantra will be the seventh car. It follows Tucson, Sonata, Accent, Azera, Santa Fe, and Entourage.
Refined Exterior, Bigger Interior
Hyundai’s Elantra slots just above the Accent in its U.S. model lineup. Its new look goes a bit upscale and sophisticated, though it does look more substantial in press-kit photos than it did on the show floor. New headlights and taillights offer more personality and the grille has a more refined design with some chrome-look accents. Even the air intakes in the front bumper look less clumsy and more integrated into the overall design.
The new Elantra rides on a new platform but retains the goodness of the prior Elantra. Hyundai still calls the Elantra “a class above” the competition, as it sells against the likes of the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cobalt, Toyota Corolla, and Honda Civic, but offers interior volume in the mid-size car ranks on EPA’s guidelines. With the 2007MY, Elantra grows a little longer and wider and now claims as much interior volume as an Acura TL (if not quite as much on-road presence).
Hyundai continues to be aggressive in offering standard safety equipment, with six airbags and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS with electronic brake force distribution standard on the Elantra. Front-seat active head restraints are standard as well.
The 2007MY update brings some uplevel options to the Elantra for the first time, including steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls and leather seats. The interior offers two-tone color schemes and metallic finishes. An uplevel radio with iPod or MP3 player jack and XM satellite radio will be available as well. Standard features include rear window defroster, power windows, dual vanity mirrors, and rear window defroster. Air conditioning, cruise control, power heated mirrors, fog lights, power locks, rear center armrest with cupholders, and remote keyless entry are among the items included in options packages.
New Chassis Keeps Format of Previous Generation
The change brings about a new chassis, though by specification it looks much the same. Body stiffness is up by 49 percent, which should improve ride and handling. Road noise is reduced through improved body rigidity and optimized door sealing. Suspension continues to be independent all around, with a MacPherson strut setup in front and multi-link arrangement in the rear. Stabilizer bars are used front and rear, though larger, to help reduce body roll, and brakes are larger front and rear.
The 138HP 2.0L DOHC 16v I4 unit (132HP in SULEV form) engine carries over, still mated to standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmissions.