2021 Hyundai Elantra
2021 Hyundai Elantra

Actually, this is more of a virtual First Look.

Today we were supposed to be in California driving the new Hybrid version of the redesigned-for-2020 Hyundai Sonata, but the trip (along with others) was cancelled due to Coronavirus concerns. But that didn’t prevent Hyundai from putting on its planned reveal of the redesigned 2021 Elantra … though it was performed without a studio audience.

 2021 Hyundai Elantra
A taillight blade that runs the width of the car culminating in vertical slats give the 2021 Elantra a distinctive and upscale look — particularly at night. Also evident here is the equally unique “wedge” side sculpturing.

Originally introduced in the early 1990s, this seventh generation of Hyundai’s compact sedan is longer, lower, and wider than before and boasts racy new styling. Most evident are a fastback profile and bodyside sculpturing that forms somewhat of a wedge in the middle, though a full-width taillight blade with vertical lights at the ends (forming sort of an elongated “H”) is also distinctive — particularly at night.

First Spin: 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan

From a mechanical standpoint, the Elantra carries on with front-wheel drive, a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine (though Hyundai says it’s tuned for better fuel economy), and the CVT automatic transmission introduced on the 2020 Elantra. For economy-minded folks, Elantra’s first Hybrid will join the lineup with what Hyundai says should be a 50-mpg fuel-economy rating. Later, performance fans will get an N Line version, which in similarly sized Hyundais — such as the current Elantra GT N Line — means a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine with 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

But besides the sleeker styling, Hyundai is putting an emphasis on tech and connectivity.

 2021 Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai says the dash is designed to be like an airplane cockpit, with controls tilted toward the driver. Note the unusual four-arm steering-wheel spokes and passenger-side console grab handle.

One element of that is the company’s new SoundHound Voice Recognition system that uses voice prompts for such traditionally manual tasks as rolling down windows, opening the trunk, or turning on seat heaters. Also newly available are the Hyundai Digital Key, which allows you to unlock the car and start the engine with your smartphone, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, and a Bose premium audio system.

 2021 Hyundai Elantra
The available 10.25-inch digital instrument panel carries virtual gauges, and a large, 10.25-inch touchscreen hosts infotainment information. Also new is wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay.

Test Drive: 2019 Honda Civic Touring

On the safety side, the 2021 Elantra will be available with forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, driver attention warning, automatic high beams, safe exit assist (if a door is opened, it warns of vehicles coming up from behind), blind-spot warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Pricing was not announced, but the on-sale date was: Hyundai says to look for the 2021 Elantra in dealerships late this coming fall.

CG Says:

Hyundai wants to make a bigger splash in the compact-car segment, which — as with other “car” categories — is feeling sales pressure from crossovers. Its current Elantra sedan is a solid entry, but nobody’s calling it “exciting.” This one they might. Some of its new tech features are particularly interesting and may end up being unique in the compact class (we don’t yet know what its 2021 competitors will offer), and that — along with its frugal Hybrid and upcoming N Line performance versions expanding the product portfolio — will almost certainly make it appeal to a larger crowd.

 2021 Hyundai Elantra
The 2021 Elantra’s fastback roofline and wedgy side sculpturing are particularly noticeable in this profile view. Hyundai hopes the racier look, newly available tech features, and added Hybrid and N Line versions of the Elantra sedan will boost the car’s sales, and we can’t help but think they will.

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2021 Hyundai Elantra

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