SAN FRANCISCO: Those
who wanted an inexpensive, basic transportation vehicle, but didnt want to buy a
used car, originally purchased Hyundais. Hyundai is changing that image, first with
its value-packed Santa Fe SUV, and now with the new 2002 Elantra.
Elantras 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, its fun to drive.
While I didnt 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 Hyundais 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
Hyundais 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
Hyundai Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
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
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