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2002 Elantra

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SAN FRANCISCO: Those who wanted an inexpensive, basic transportation vehicle, but didn’t want to buy a used car, originally purchased Hyundai’s. Hyundai is changing that image, first with its value-packed Santa Fe SUV, and now with the new 2002 Elantra.

Elantra’s come in two trim levels, the GLS four-door sedan and GT five-door hatchback. While the GLS is your typical generic looking sub compact sedan, the GT has head turning lines that look a bit like the Saab 93. The GLS and GT share their sheet metal forward of the front doors but the rear styling is unique to the GT. After spending a week with an "arrest me red" Elantra GT, I can say the Hyundai shares more than just the unique shape of the Swedish hatchback that costs about twice as much. Indeed, it may be the first of a new breed – the low-priced compact sports sedan.

Only one engine is offered, a 2.0-liter, double overhead camshaft (DOHC) four-cylinder with four-valves-per-cylinder. The engine produces 140-horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 133 lb-ft of torque at 4800 rpm. While at first glance these numbers could mean rather anemic performance, they are "best in class", as the GT weighs in at only 2600 pounds. Of course you have use the transmission frequently to eke out maximum performance, and appropriate clutch and gearshift action to keep the revs up, but the redline is a high-revving 6400 rpm. Fortunately, the gearbox is precise with no notchiness. In other words, it’s fun to drive.

While I didn’t drive the electronically controlled, four-speed automatic, which is an $800 option, my gut feeling is that it probably converts this very good sporty car into just a good commuter car.

Those familiar with older Hyundai’s will quickly note that this engine is quieter and more refined, with a nice sound when the throttle is applied aggressively. The EPA numbers are 25 mpg city and

33 mpg highway with the manual, and 24 mpg and 33 mpg respectively with the electronically controlled automatic. The fuel tank holds 14.5 gallons. There is no towing package since towing is not recommended.

Both Elantras come with a longer menu of standard features than might not be expected in a car in this price range. This includes air conditioning, power windows, heated mirrors and locks, tilt steering wheel, and AM/FM stereo cassette. The GT adds a firmer sport-tuned suspension, five-spoke aluminum alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, leather seating surfaces, wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob, a 100-watt, six-speaker stereo with CD player, cruise control, remote keyless entry with alarm, front fog lights and rear-glass wiper and washer. Also rare in this price range is the front-passenger side-impact airbags, which are standard equipment.

While there are three-point restraints at all five seating positions, there are only four headrests. Most of the standard features on the GT can be ordered on the GLS. To get the anti-lock braking and traction control you have to order the $1,175 option package and that includes a power glass moon roof.

The GT, which replaces the Elantra station wagon, offers excellent load carrying capacity and versatility with its large rear hatch and the split folding rear seat. The new Elantra is larger with a longer wheelbase which is stretched 2.3 inches to 102.7 and the overall length is 3.1 inches longer adding up to more leg room. It is also 1.2 inches taller and slightly wider for more headroom and hip room.

The interior definitely looks nice and does not have that cheap, rental-car look. Though mostly plastic, both materials and fit-and-finish are very good. Instruments are backlit with purple lighting. The rotating knobs for the climate control are easy to use, but the radio controls like on many cars, especially Korean-built ones, are too small. A power seat is not offered, but the manually operated six-way driver's seat is height adjustable both front and rear, and both front seats have adjustable lumbar support. The front shoulder belts are height adjustable One of the many higher-priced touches are the remote releases for the trunk or hatchback and fuel filler door.

Ride, handling and ride quality are impressive and on the par with some much more expensive Japanese and European cars, a tribute partly to the well-designed and executed multi-link rear suspension. The rack and pinion power steering has good response and road feel without sacrificing even light feel at low speeds. The Elantra has a tight turning circle of 32.4 ft, which is much better than most front-wheel-drive cars, and that makes it very easy to maneuver in traffic and parking lots.

If you want a fun-to-drive sports sedan and are on a tight budget, or just want great value for your dollar, take a long test drive in a Hyundai Elantra. And note that Hyundai’s warranty is the best in the industry. This is a 5-year, 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty for the power train. There also is a no charge 24-hour roadside assistance program for five years and Hyundai protects Elantras from rust-through for five years or 100,000 miles. The Base Elantra GLS is priced at $12,994 while the Elantra GT lists for $14,494. This is a very good car at a very good price. By Bill Siuru and Andrea Stewart AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  Hyuandai is changing their image one car at a time
Topic:  2002 Hyundai Elantra GLS and GT
Word Count:   954
Photo Caption:  2002 Hyundai Elantra
Photo Credits:  Hyundai Internet Media
Series #:   2001 - 33

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2002 Elantra

Download the original image file here:  2002 Elantra 27k

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