Decent gas mileage
5-year bumper-to-bumper warranty
10-year powertrain warranty
High crash test and rollover safety ratings
Advanced braking system with electronic stability control
Good design and engineering
Large trunk capacity with ability to carry very long items in the trunk
The seats require a wedge from your chiropractor if you are short
I've had my 2009 Hyundai ElantraSE for five years now, and I bought this car on logic instead of emotion. However, I have to say that this is one of the best cars I have ever owned, and it was a great deal for the price I paid!
I chose the SE primarily because of the Electronic Stability Control feature. This feature has been estimated to reduce traffic fatalities by up to one-third. Although the technical specifications are fairly dense, basically there is a computer just for the brakes, and in difficult driving conditions like rain, ice, or snow, the brakes react to your pressure as they would in ideal conditions. At times, when I brake, I can feel the pedal pulling a little away from under my foot, so I know that it works. The car has always stopped right where I intended it to, when on other cars I might have skidded.
My driving style puts my gas mileage at 29.2 mpg. While this isn't stellar, I do mostly short city trips, and this includes the average driving with air conditioning in the summer in Texas. The air conditioning lowers the gas mileage by about 1 mpg when on full (which is necessary where I live).
The heat is fantastic and the car is usually warm enough to turn on the heater by the time I've driven about a half-mile. There are plenty of environmental controls so that the car temperature can be warm, although it does not have individual controls for each seat.
The car handles well although my previous car had stiffer controls, so that this feels a bit mushy in comparison. However, I have never had a problem handling the car, even in the midst of traffic with a bunch of frantic drivers trying to get home.
The interior space is astonishing; the car seats five adults comfortably and there's enough head room that no-one ever feels cramped. The trunk space is generous and the rear seat can fold down in two parts, allowing me to carry folding tables, cellos, large trunks, and all other kinds of things that ordinary cars cannot carry in the trunk. I have plenty of space to store extra shopping bags, and things that I need to carry multiple copies of for appointments.
The interior is very nicely furnished and feels very luxurious for the price of the car. One thing I love is the variable speed intermittent wipers, which are perfect for those days when the rain comes and goes at all speeds--I can easily adjust the wiper speed to the exact amount of rain that is falling.
The car comes with a cigarette lighter and an accessory 12-volt outlet; several compartments for all your "stuff"; a place for your sunglasses; lighted mirrors on both driver and passenger visors; water bottle holders; two cup holders in front and several in back; child seat anchors; a hook for a purse strap; and many other features, including a radio/CD/mp3 player, and a jack for your portable mp3 player. However, the radio/CD player lacks a mute button, which I find I really miss!
What is most important, this car has four- and five-star crash test safety and rollover ratings. For a small car, this is excellent because the driver reaps the benefits both of gas mileage and of safety. In addition, the Hyundai Elantra SE has excellent reliability ratings and is backed by a great warranty, so I do not worry about breaking down somewhere because of faulty construction. Hyundai also has a program where if there is a safety issue that is caused by a manufacturing defect, they automatically pay all your expenses--hospitalization, repair, and everything else. So this car offers me true peace of mind--something that is invaluable!
All in all, I am very pleased with my Hyundai Elantra. Before I researched this car, I would never have thought of buying a Korean car, but I'm pleased to say that I definitely made a good decision in buying this car. It has not manifested any problems in the nine months that I have had it, and it is very easy to drive. Everyone who has ridden in the car enjoys the trip and is comfortable, and what's more important, they feel safe, and I know that they are safe, because of the crash test and rollover results. I especially recommend this model if you often drive with small children because of the multiple child seat anchors!
Amazon Price: $46.00 Buy Now
(price as of May 8, 2016)