2018 Hyundai Elantra Eco
2018 Hyundai Elantra Eco in Black

2015 Audi Q52018 Hyundai Elantra Eco

Class: Compact Car

Miles driven: 739

Fuel used: 20.3 gallons

Real-world fuel economy: 36.4 mpg

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortB-
Power and PerformanceC+
Fit and FinishB-
Fuel EconomyA-
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyB-
Tall GuyB-
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.

Driving mix: 55% city, 45% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 32/40/35 (city, highway, combined)

Base price: $20,550 (not including $885 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Carpeted floor mats ($125)

Price as tested: $21,560


Quick Hits

The great: Fuel economy, features for the money

The good: Decent ride, relatively low noise levels

The not so good: Subpar interior materials

More Elantra price and availability info


John Biel

Here we go again.

The big noise around the compact Hyundai Elantra line in 2018 is the update of the GT hatchbacks to match what was done to the sedan versions for 2017. So, except for the insertion of a new SEL trim level, ’18 sedans like the Eco model tested by Consumer Guide® editors are more or less just like their immediate predecessors — and CG did drive a ’17 Eco.

2018 Hyundai Elantra Eco
“Eco” is the name and “Economy” is the game — and one the Elantra Eco plays very well. Not only did it get impressive fuel economy in our tests, but it’s also a great dollar value.

To refresh memories, the Eco comes with a powerteam unlike that in any other Elantra model: a 128-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine paired with a 7-speed “EcoShift” dual-clutch automated-manual transmission. (Most other models come with a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four mated to either a 6-speed manual or conventional 6-speed automatic.) Other base features include 15-inch alloy wheels and low-rolling-resistance tires, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, Bluetooth connectivity, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry and starting, 3.5-inch thin-film-transistor vehicle-information display, infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen, HD and satellite radio, a hands-free smart trunk that opens if you stand behind the car with the key fob for more than three seconds, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines. While most Elantras come with 4-wheel disc brakes, the Eco and base SE have front discs and rear drums.

2018 Hyundai Elantra Eco
Although interior materials are nothing to brag about, there’s a decent amount of storage space inside, and the Eco comes standard with such features as a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and keyless access and starting.

Personal storage is handled via a sizeable glove box, a smallish rectangular console box, a covered bin with auxiliary/USB ports and two 12-volt plugs, and a net pouch on the back of the front passenger seat. Each door has a pocket with a bottle holder. Cup holders for the front passengers are found in the middle of the console, while cup holders for rear occupants pop out of the back of the console.

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While there’s nothing particularly thrilling about the turbocharged engine, it provides enough on-demand go to keep highway merging or passing from getting into white-knuckle territory. A “Drive Mode Select” toggles between “Normal” and “Sport,” altering powertrain behavior, but only to a very slight degree. Automated manuals like the Eco’s transmission are sometimes beset by odd shifting behavior — and indeed, CG’s Damon Bell called out the 2017 Eco test car for this — but our testers who drove the ’18 car (including Damon) didn’t find that to be as much of an issue. More of note is that the Eco model is EPA-rated at 32 city/40 highway/35 combined, and our fuel economy supported those numbers. This reviewer averaged 33 mpg from a 113-mile run that included 55 percent city-type driving, and overall, our testers averaged 36.4 mpg in about the same percentage of city driving, beating the 35-mpg combined rating.

First Spin: 2016 Chevrolet Cruze

2018 Hyundai Elantra Eco
Only if the front seats are pushed far back does legroom get tight in the rear; otherwise, most adults should fit comfortably back there.

Relatively high-profile tires provide a little extra cushioning over bumps to help out ride comfort; the Eco keeps from jostling passengers most of the time. However, this driver sensed some tire noise, especially on the highway. Steering behavior is not bad overall, but really crisp handling is apparently not a priority with this car.

Space for rear-seat occupants is OK only if shorter folks are sitting up front. Even sub-6-footers can start to crowd those in back. Effective adult capacity is four, though a fifth may fit in the back in a pinch, thanks to a low, flat-topped floor hump. Headroom is good in front — the headliner is sculpted to maximize the space — but a little less so in back.

2018 Hyundai Elantra Eco
Sickle-shaped trunklid hinges dip into the load area a bit, but there’s additional storage space under the Eco’s floor. While the rear seat backs fold, they rest a few inches above the level of the load floor and leave a somewhat restricted opening.

Trunk space is good for the class. The floor is flat throughout, and liftover is low. Folding rear seat backs are split 60/40, but when lowered, they rest a few inches above the level of the trunk floor. Also, a bulkhead behind the seats narrows the threshold between trunk and cabin.

Interior appointments are a little stark — soft or padded surfaces are at a minimum. However, seats are supportive with a degree of built-up bolstering in the cushions and seat backs. Elantras have easy-to-operate audio and climate controls, and other controls are easy to find and simple to use.

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The 2018 Eco goes for $21,435 delivered, and it’s hard to spend much more for one. There are no factory-installed option packages, and just a few convenience and appearance accessories. If this car sounded like a good idea last year but you didn’t get around to buying one, the good news is that this year you can make up for that.

2018 Hyundai Elantra Eco
Economy-minded buyers should be pleased by the Eco’s low base price, lengthy list of standard features, and impressive fuel efficiency. The biggest downside is that there are no factory options offered — only a few accessories — so it’s pretty much a “take it or leave it” affair.

Check out our Compact Car Best Buys

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