NEW HYUNDAI ELANTRA SEL MODEL PACKED WITH MANY DESIRABLE FEATURES FOR 2018
Now in its sixth generation, the Elantra remains Hyundai’s top seller with over 113,000 sold so far in 2018, the only vehicle in the South Korean automaker’s stable of sedans, hatchbacks, and SUVs/crossovers to reach six figures in total sales to date.
Hyundai says that more than 2.9 million Elantras have been sold in the U.S. since it arrived in the United States in 1990, and it is easy to see why. It still offers a comfortable ride and a many technological and safety features for under $20,000 on all but the high-end models.
Though redesigned for 2017, the 2018 Elantra added a new trim level for 2018 with the Elantra SEL replacing what was sold before as the SE with Popular Equipment Package.
For an MSRP of $19,735 including the $895 destination and delivery charge, the Elantra SEL comes with such features as blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist, rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, auto headlamps, heated outside mirrors, a 7-inch display audio system with SiriusXM satellite radio (unless you live in Alaska or Hawaii), 16-inch alloy wheels, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with cruise and audio controls.
That’s a nice array of equipment that will satisfy most of your needs. A good thing, too, because the only option offered on the SEL is an auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink and compass.
For navigation and leather seats over the standard premium cloth, you’ll have to step up to the Limited trim that checks in at just under $22,000 including destination and delivery.
Under the hood of the 2018 Elantra is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that offers excellent fuel economy of 28 miles-per-gallon city, 37 highway, and 32 overall, but not a whole lot in the way of performance and an engaging driving experience.
Setting the 6-speed automatic transmission in Sport more helps, but there is only so much you can get out of 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. A manual likely would add to the fun potential, but that is offered only on the SE and Elantra Sport.
For more performance, you might want to take a look at the 2018 Elantra GT Sport that is offered with a 1.6-liter turbo-4 that ups horsepower and torque to 201/195, respectively, but with a tab of just over $25,000.
Space is a plus for the Elantra. Legroom for all trims is a generous 42.2 inches in the front and an adequate 35.7 in the back. The trunk is 14.4 cubic feet — good for the class.
The Elantra also comes in other trims with the SE serving as the base and starts at $17,845 when equipped with a six-speed manual transmission and $18,845 with the 6-speed Shiftronic.
Other Elantra sedans, including the SEL, come with either either a 6-speed automatic or a 7-speed double-clutch transmission. The Elantra Value Edition models start at just under $21,000 with the destination and delivery added in, and the Eco, which is rated at 35 mpg combined with the 1.4-liter turbo-4 and the double-clutch tranny, starts at $21,435,
Limited Edition starts at $21,985. The Elantra Sport is $22,685 with the 6-speed manual and $23,785 with the 7-speed dual clutch tranny.
That pretty much leaves the SEL as the more popular choice.
What I liked about the 2018 Hyundai Elantra SEL: Setting the transmission to Sport mode results in a much more livelier performance, though a manual transmission — not available on the SEL — likely would make it even better. Basic infotainment features, including SiriusXM satellite radio, are user friendly operating off a generous 7-inch touchdown. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard. Connecting a cell through Bluetooth is a snap.
What I didn’t like about the 2018 Hyundai Elantra SEL: The engine is quiet enough, though we found it necessary to turn up the audio volume when at expressway speeds because of road noise. Navigation is offered only on the Limited trim (but you probably prefer our smart phone any way).
Would I buy the 2018 Hyundai Elantra SEL? Yes. This is a good value for the money. The SEL comes with lots of standard features and still keeps the MSRP at under $20,000.