The 2021 Hyundai Elantra and its hybrid version were unveiled for the first time in 2020 with great fanfare for the apparent “segment firsts” they had promised at the time. We took the 2021 Elantra Limited on the road to see how it fares.
High-end looks at great prices
We tested the Limited version, but there are six in total, from the entry-level SE version starting at just $ 20,655 to the Limited Hybrid starting at $ 29,105. The Limited is the top of the line apart from the hybrid model and sits above the sportier N Line model. The exterior and interior of the Elantra Limited are fantastic to see. They have the appearance of a much more expensive car.
The exterior is available in seven different colors and is accented by a beautiful mix of angular lines and curves. The Limited gets a rather attractive dark chrome grille as standard, as well as body-color door handles, LED front and rear lights with automatic headlamp control, all mounted on 17-inch alloy wheels.
Stunning interior quality and design
Inside, the attraction continues with leather-trimmed seats, including a 6-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support and a 4-way power passenger seat. All front seats are heated as standard on the Limited. The driver has a 10.25-inch high-resolution infotainment touchscreen, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and your friends will love sharing their favorite playlist via the Bose premium 8-speaker audio system, which was better than expected.
Another big plus from the driver’s point of view is the perfectly stunning digital instrument cluster, which outperforms many of its 2021 model year rivals. On top of that, the steering wheel is very sporty, comfortable in the hand and becomes a fun part of the driving experience.
Pure in appearance and style, the Elantra seems to have just about it all, and the interior tech offering is very impressive. When it comes to performance, however, it’s a bit more of a mixed bag. First, the Limited trim comes with the same standard 2.0L inline-4 engine as the lower SE and SEL models. It develops 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a Smartstream Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) which is essentially the equivalent of a CVT.
We found this arrangement a bit disappointing when it came to driving the Limited. The engine is weak for a car that is in every way the top of the trim scale. A slightly more upscale engine option for the Limited would make more sense in our opinion. 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 a few key differences. First, the compression ratio is 10.0: 1 versus 12.5: 1 in the other two engines. Another is that it has direct gasoline injection (GDI) instead of multi-point fuel injection on the Limited and SEL. In addition, you get a more dynamic experience thanks to the 6-speed manual transmission offer of the N line or you can opt for the sporty 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. The N-Line turbo engine produces 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft at just 1,500 rpm.
The Limited is a bit weak on the engine and drivetrain, but thrives in just about every other way. To get the most out of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra, we recommend getting the N Line for a sportier ride or the hybrid model for higher efficiency and overall performance. Kudos to Hyundai for creating a great value sedan for 2021.