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The Hyundai Elantra Hybrid is the only kind that makes sense

The 2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid has 500 miles or range, and offers the interior quality of an Audi. But is it worth the price premium?


Global warming. Say what you will about our machines with souls, but they are not helping us breathe easier. Yet despite many who won’t admit it, we cannot live without them. Sorry, but there will never be an easy way to get from my door to New York City via train, bus, helicopter, rocket ship or cruise missile. And what if you live in the middle of Kansas? That’s where cars like this Hyundai Elantra Hybird come into play.

It’s an economy car, a first for this website. It’s frugal, underpowered, cheap, and shaped like a UFO. But there’s also a DCT, direct steering, and light weight.

All of this begs the question – can we preserve the planet and have a bit of fun doing so?

Hyundai Elantra Hybird

2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Quick Take

Get one:

Perfectly integrated powertrain. Audi-esque inside. All the features you want, and more. Light and nimble.

Don’t get one:

Slow. Uncomfortable seats. Waiting years to see the benefits of spending more on the Hybrid.

Soul Score: 5

Basic transportation has never been so good.

The 2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid overview

Hyundai Elantra Hybird

Electric cars aren’t selling. We know this. Good as some of them are, they remain limited by the infrastructure that supports them. But I also believe it’s the demographic targeted.

I know that fuel is getting expensive, but for those in AMGs and Aston Martins it just doesn’t matter. These are not people scrounging around for weekly dollars, so the whole “saving money on gas” doesn’t apply to them.

Hyundai Elantra Hybird

On the other hand, making an electric car is very expensive, so producing one with an MSRP in Honda Civic territory isn’t going to be easy. That’s where a car like this Hyundai Elantra Hybrid comes in.

It’s cheap. It’s (relatively) comfortable. It looks like an Audi inside. It is not exciting to drive, but it also doesn’t get in the way. In short, this car goes far beyond what the typical person might need for daily transport.

This is what the common car should be. Stop making everything else.

Performance Score: 5. Green Peace

Hyundai Elantra Hybird

This is a better-built Hyundai than the 1989 Excel my mom used to tow me around to day care in. In fact, it’s insulting to even suggest they share anything at all, even lineage.

And though economy cars naturally offer some performance benefits, the Elantra isn’t all-in on smiles.


Hyundai Elantra Hybird
An unassuming start button proves its point.

Under the front of that grinning face sits a 104 horsie 1.6-liter inline-four that combines with a 35-horsepower electric motor and a small battery pack to provide a total of 139 horsepower. That’s a bit less than the non-hybrid Elantra’s plain-Jane 2.0-liter. There’s also 195 lb-ft of torque on tap.

Though I don’t need nose-bleed speed to have fun, the Elantra can sometimes cause an unsettled feeling when doing important things like, oh, merging on the highway. Pinning the throttle results in much more noise than speed, especially because the electric motor isn’t helped by turbos. Careful planning is needed to pass.

Hyundai Elantra Hybird
Behold Sport mode!

Around town this is much less of a problem, with the battery offering a nice low-end pump off the line. Placing the car in Sport mode helps a bit, but sort of defeats the purpose of an EV. Better to leave it alone and let the computer decide how best to use your fuel.


Hyundai Elantra Hybird
A DCT! How nice.

To Hyundai’s eternal credit, they decided to plop a DCT to sort out the power to the wheels. This could easily have been a CVT, and I’d have easily hated it. That constant droning, it’s awful.

Instead, we get smooth power delivery, sharp shifts and programming that mostly keeps the transmission out of the way. There are no paddles to pull, but the shifter does offer a place to shift manually if so inclined.

Hyundai has done an excellent job of seamlessly combining the transmission and power units, much better than even some more expensive machines.

Steering and Chassis

Hyundai Elantra Hybird
The steering is the best part about the Elantra’s driving experience.

There’s some things to like here. Tipping the scales at just over 3,000 pounds, the Hyundai Elantra Hybrid is naturally light and nimble. There’s always at least a little fun to be had.

Credit must go to the steering, which is surprisingly heavy and tactile. It’s easy to place this car where it needs to be, and if an M4 felt like this I’d be much happier.

Next is the chassis itself, which never encourages antics and is held up by 17-inch all-season tires aimed for economy and comfort, so it’s not going to give you sports sedan performance. Lots of body roll and movement in turns never provides the confidence for max attack mode.

Hyundai Elantra Hybird
Light and nimble, but not very exciting.

But I will also tell you that it can hold on for .85 G of grip, and the Lexus IS500 lets go at .89, a difference you could never feel behind the wheel.

The strut front, multi-link rear is a modern setup, and it provides a comfortable and compliant ride. Again, without a million chassis setting, simply getting it right from the factory pays off.


Hyundai Elantra Hybird
Brakes that convert heat into energy work well.

Nothing special – 11-inch vented rotors in front and 10.3 in the rear means that braking power is pretty evenly distributed. There’s regen braking here, and it’s seamless (and of course not an option for one-pedal driving).

The Elantra mostly stays out of your way as a car. It’ll get you from point A to point B without drama (unless you need to merge), and though it’ll never call your name from the garage, sometimes it’s nice to have a car take up less brain capacity than a Z06 needs.

Utility Score: 6. Swoopy slice

Hyundai Elantra Hybird
Cheap cars get cheap seats.

Though small cars have grown over the years, the Elantra sacrifices a bit of headroom for a sexy roof line. Hopping into the front seat means watching my noggin as it grazed past the A-pillar. Simply try before you buy.

Once inside, you’ll notice the seats are on the uncomfortable side. They offer good lateral support, but the bottom cushion is far too short, and there isn’t much lumbar. Let’s say, it won’t be a refreshing road trip.

Hyundai Elantra Hybird
Plenty of room in the rear.
Hyundai Elantra Hybird
Trunk is also a good size for living life.

The back seat does offer good room, though it’s just a normal flat bench. The sort of rubberized leather means cleanups after kids (or your friends) will be easy.

That swoopy styling cuts into the trunk too, but there’s still plenty of room for life.

Economy Score: 9. Numbers you can understand

Hyundai Elantra Hybird
Turning on Eco mode will change the dash and encourage you to drive miserly.

Miles-per-gallon. Good.

Miles-per-gallon…e? I had to look it up, but apparently a gallon of gasoline contains 33.7 kWh of electricity. It’s confusing to see the rating on the side of an electric car’s monroney, and they never mention how those 33.7 kWh gets into your car. And why doesn’t the Elantra get the “e” – it has electricity in it too? 1/2 e? I digress

Much easier to grasp is this: 50 combined MPG for this Hyundai. Some rivals, like the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, do a bit better. Still, it’s great to see 500 miles of range on the dash and not be in a diesel.

Also keep in the mind the $2,500 price premium for the Hybrid;  it’ll take you three years to get that money back in fuel savings. Just in time for you to lease a new one! Second-hand though, you could come out on top. There’s also the de-contented Blue trim level, which is cheaper and gets a bit better mileage. Choose wisely.

Features and Comfort: 7. Steals Audi’s lunch

Hyundai Elantra Hybird

This is why I get mad when I sit inside a BRZ – cheap doesn’t need to be mismatched or poor in quality. The Elantra is waaaay nicer inside than the typical eco-box deserves


Hyundai Elantra Hybird
Everything feels nice to touch.

Audi’s clean styling influence is clear everywhere you look inside this car, from the bejewled turn-signal stalks to the way the start/stop button clicks when you press it.

Look through the cool-looking steering wheel and find a digital instrument cluster that can tell you more than the one in a BMW, including upcoming Yield signs. The dials change for Eco and Sport mode, but I once again ask why we create digital dials if all we’re going to do is mimic the way conventional ones look.

Hyundai Elantra Hybird
Everything inside that a BMW might have.

Look around you – heated and cooled seats, automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay, a sunroof, 10.25-inch touch display, Bose Stereo, auto-dimming mirror…we’ve reached the point where luxury cars don’t really have more features than cars like this.

Hyundai Elantra Hybird
Hyundai’s infotainment system is a bit clunky to use but overall works well.
Hyundai Elantra Hybird

Little things might annoy you. Only the driver’s side window has an auto-down switch. Just charge $200 more for the car and make them all do it. The Floor mats are a $210 option – they ain’t exactly cut-pile. H-Tex is what Hyundai uses to cover the seats, and it’s hot and plasticity like a bad porno. Still – overall well done.

Hyundai Elantra Hybird
Hyundai does an excellent job of using the the digital dash unconventionally.

All of this is optional of course – you can get a basic Elantra for less than $24,000.

A for effort

Hyundai Elantra Hybird

Safe to say by now that the Koreans have their own sort of funky styling for everything, and Hyundai in particular. The Elantra doesn’t really look like a scaled down Sonata, nor anything else in their lineup. This is opposed to the Mercedes/BMW/Audi tradition of scaling up (or down) everything they make.

In this Limited model, you have optional Serenity White paint, and it’s the only color that costs money. If it’s metallic, it was hard to tell.

Hyundai Elantra Hybird
Are unpainted bumpers out of style yet?

Elsewhere there are optional 17-inch wheels and LED headlights. There’s an N-Line trim that will add more sporty flair, but it’s not available on the Hybrid model. I lament the cheaper touches like matte black plastic trim around the windows, and it seems no car can escape the factory nowadays with a fully-painted bumper. The Elantra also hides the exhaust pipe, and there’s enough surface styling on the doors to compete with the surface of Mars.

Hyundai Elantra Hybird
Nice touches like LED headlights are here.

Still overall it’s a handsome thing, if not visually exciting. Remember the blobs Hyundai used to put out 20 years ago? Long gone.

Hybrids still don’t math, but the Hyundai Elantra Hybrid makes the most sense

Hyundai Elantra Hybird

Hybrid cars are truly a feat of engineering, and the way this Elantra just seamlessly integrates its battery and engine together (in an economy car no less) – I appreciate the effort. Works well.

But like the BMW 330e, what are we achieving? This car costs more, weighs more, is more complex, and takes a long time to reap the benefits of. How are we saving the planet by installing not one, but two motors in a car?

Hyundai Elantra Hybird

But the alternative is an all-electric world. Will that work? I don’t know – something tells me there isn’t enough precious metal to make all the gadgets we need. Instead, hybrids like the Elantra alleviate range anxiety, do in fact offer better mileage for equal power and performance, and allows you to feel good about loving momma nature.

This is the price point where electric cars need to be. But until they make them cheaply enough, this Hyundai Elantra Hybrid offer an excellent alternative.

Hyundai Elantra Hybird

2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited Specifications


front-engine, front-wheel-drive, five-passenger, four-door sedan


Base: $29,450
As tested: $31,280


1.6 liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder
139 horsepower @ 5,700 RPM
195 lb-ft
Six-speed Dual-Clutch Automatic transmission


Wheelbase: 107.1 in
Length: 184.1 in
Width: 71.9 in
Height: 55.7 in
Curb Weight: 3,069 lbs


50 combined / 49 city / 52 highway

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