The Extra Mile: 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT
Entry Price: $18,545
Price as Tested: $22,015
This week, we're behind the wheel of Hyundai's new 2013 Elantra GT, a four-door, five-passenger hatchback with loads of cargo space. Featuring an aerodynamic exterior with a straight-back roofline, GT rates high on the return on investment (ROI) scale thanks to a most affordable price.
Promoted as a vehicle that delivers European-inspired design and versatility, EPA lists Elantra GT as a small station wagon thanks to its up to 51 cu. ft. of cargo room and hatchback motif. However, when one sees an Elantra GT in person, "station wagon" is furthest from one's thoughts.
Unlike siblings Elantra Coupe and Elantra Sedan, which are built in Montgomery, Alabama, and sport two-inch longer wheelbases, the GT model is built in Korea, making it different when comparing to homeland built Elantras.
Elantra's GT is assembled for pronounced road feel thanks to a tweaked suspension. Included are things like stiffer spring rates and better dampers for less lean in the corners and crisper handling. Hyundai says it boosts driver participation and gives the "European" handling attribute necessary to compete in the class.
Overall, Hyundai has been producing Elantras that generate close to or over 40-mph highway on a regular basis. Our tester came with a six-speed manual transmission and delivered 41.8 MPG highway on an extended 200-mile business trip. We ended the week at 32.8 mpg overall, which figures even better based on EPA's 26-city and 37-highway estimates. This puts Elantra GT at or near the top of the fuel economy lists for a non-hybrid.
The reason for Elantra's excellent fuel economy is a driveline introduced in 2011 consisting of an aluminum 1.8-liter, 10.3 compression, 4-cylinder DOHC engine that produces 148 horsepower and 131 lb. ft. of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is also available for non-gear shifters. The little engine is a fine performer, and moves the lightweight GT without any problems.
However, and back to the ROI, things get even more interesting when you check the pricing. GT's base is $18,395, while the American built Hyundai Elantras start at just $16,965 for a sedan with the same drivetrain. This pricing is very consumer friendly, resulting in good sales numbers across the Elantra line.
Our tester came with a $2,750 "Style Package," which adds 17-inch alloy wheels, an even stiffer sport suspension tune, panoramic sunroof, leather seating, side mirror turn signals, power driver seat with lumbar, aluminum pedals and a few other minor additions. I feel $2,750 is expensive for this option, although if you can live without a sunroof, the $950 "Touch & Go" package is similar less the roof opening.
All Elantras feature exceptional safety features and government crash ratings, regardless of model choice. Included are all the airbags including driver knee, stability control, traction control, four-wheel disc ABS brakes, daytime running lamps, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist.
Inside, GT features an impressive sports car like layout and well appointed seating. There's even ample room in the rear for adults, while all the powers, cruise, air, tilt and telescopic, 360-watt AM/FM/CD/XM Satellite with MP3 and six speakers, iPod and USB jacks, remote keyless entry, steering wheel controls, Hyundai Bluelink, integrated Bluetooth, tilt and telescopic, 60/40 folding rear seat and more are standard fare.
We can't end this column without mention of Hyundai's 10-year limited powertrain warranty. Hyundai was the first modern-day manufacturer to offer such extensive warranties, although I've recently learned that in 1940, the Willys Coupes and Sedans offered 100,000 mile warranties. (Reminisce Magazine, current issue).
Many manufacturers now offer the 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, but few match Hyundai's 10-year duration as many are 5-year/100,000.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 104.3-inches, 2,745-pound curb weight, 23 to 51 cu. ft. of cargo space and a 13.2-gallon fuel tank.
Although Elantra GT may not be for everyone with its stiffer suspension, Hyundai does offer the Coupe or Sedan with a softer touch. The choice is yours.
Overall, it's a great little hatchback.
Likes: Suspension, cargo, looks, safety, economy, interior.
Dislikes: Engine a little noisy, cabin needs more insulation.
Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist.