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The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Gets a Little Better, a Little Prettier

I recently had a chance to spend a day driving the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited and I can say that while the new Elantra doesn’t perform all that differently from the previous models – it has gotten a little better and a little prettier with the next generation.

Before getting into my first drive review of the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited, let’s make one thing clear right up front – this new Elantra is not a revolutionary refresh compared to the outgoing models. The new model rides a little quieter, it drives a bit better and it handles a little better, but the biggest changes come around the outside, where the 2017 Elantra has a more upscale look than the outgoing models.

2017 Elantra Limited Exterior
The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited features a very high tech lighting design that fits well with the pricier cars in the brand lineup, with LED-trimmed projection headlights, LED driving lights and LED taillights. When you add in the large, angular grille, the front end of the 2017 Elantra has a sportier look while the chrome in the grille and through the headlights gives the car a look that is less sport and more luxury. As a result, this is a front end that should appeal to those buyers who want something sporty – but not too sporty.

From the side, the 2017 Hyundai Elantra has a short hood, a long greenhouse and a sloping rear glass design that flows into the rear decklid – almost creating a fastback design. Like the front end, this silhouette should appeal to both those who want something sporty and those who want something practical, as the fastback design also affords the Elantra a bit more headroom for rear riders. The Elantra has a high body line that gives the car a sporty stance without having the rear-high rake of some performance-focused models and the standard aluminum wheels follow the sporty-but-not-too-sporty trend that we see elsewhere in the exterior styling.

The exterior design of the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited isn’t groundbreaking, but it makes for a sportier, more attractive car in my opinion. I liked the look of the previous Elantra sedan, but I like this upscale, sportier design even more.

Premium Amenities in the Elantra Limited
While the outside of the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited is a little sporty and a little luxury, the inside of my test car was all luxury. The Limited trimline with the Tech Package includes heated leather seats, a dual zone climate control system, a color driver information display in the gauge cluster, steering wheel audio controls and an 8 inch touchscreen that incorporates an integrated phone system with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the sound system and the navigation system.

17 elantra dash

More importantly, the 2017 Elantra Limited cabin is quiet and comfortable when driving or riding in any of the passenger positions. There is plenty of leg room for the driver and front passenger, and while the rear seating legroom is a little tighter, there is still plenty of room for two adults in the outboard spots. I wouldn’t try to put three large adults in the back, but the Elantra rear seat will definitely accommodate three small kids.

17 elantra seats

In total, I spent the better part of four hours riding in or driving the 2017 Elantra Limited and the entire drive was very comfortable. This is a car that is great around town or on long road trips.

The Drive
Speaking of a long road trip, as part of the 2017 Hyundai Elantra media launch, I spent several hours driving around Southern California in a new Elantra Limited. Like the Elantra SE, the Limited model comes with a standard 2.0L 4-cylinder with 147hp and 132lb-ft of torque, but unlike the SE, the Limited only comes with the 6-speed automatic transmission. Elantra SE buyers can also pick a 6-speed manual, but if you want all of the bells and buzzers offered in the new Elantra – you are stuck with the automatic transmission.

17 elantra drive

The good news is that when equipped with the 2.0L engine and the 6-speed automatic, the 2017 Elantra is a nice driving car. It obviously isn’t going to blow your mind with high performance antics, but the new Elantra gets off of the line quickly and it has no bones about cruising on the highway well above any posted speed limit. This is no race car, but in very few normal driving situations will you really find yourself wanting for more power. Those who want a little more engaging driving experience can opt for Sport mode and the manual shift feature, which sharpens up the shift points and (more importantly) the throttle response – making the new Elantra far more precise when driving the car in a spirited manner.

The 2017 Elantra has a far stiffer chassis, thanks to the use of more chassis bonding material in place of spot welds, and when you add in the revised suspension setup, you have a compact sedan that handles a touch better than the outgoing models. The new Elantra will handle hard turns on back roads better than the outgoing model, but it achieves these improved handling parameters without compromising ride quality. The new suspension setup also allows the car to handle rough road surfaces better, both in the case of small and large bumps in the road. The result of these chassis and suspension changes is a car that will satisfy those who want a better handling car – and those who are more concerned with ride quality and safety.

The Final Word
I liked the previous generation Hyundai Elantra sedan (which is still on sale now), but I find that the 2017 Elantra Limited has a sportier and more upscale look, a more well-appointed interior and revised drive characteristics that keep the compact Hyundai sedan headed in the right direction. The 2017 Elantra isn’t going to rock the world, but this new car adds a long list of standard features which allow it to stay ahead of the curve in the booming C-segment – allowing Hyundai to offer an even bigger challenge to the likes of the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic.

17 elantra rear

If you like the current Hyundai Elantra, the odds are good that you will like the 2017 model as well. More importantly, if you didn’t care for the handling, the ride quality or the look of the current models – the 2017 Elantra has likely addressed your complaints. This new Elantra carries on all of the things that have made it so popular while continuing to improve the points that the critics didn’t like during the prior generation.