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Exterior view of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited

I never thought I would say this, but last year made me miss commuting to an office. Granted, before March of 2020, whenever I wasn't working from home, my "office" was a coffee shop, but I still longed to write and edit photos around a variety of people in a pleasant atmosphere. I've recently started commuting again to my new caffeinated workplace, which is roughly 45 minutes from my house.

My timing worked out perfectly with the arrival of my latest media review vehicle: a Hyundai Elantra, which has been a popular choice with commuters for decades. The 2021 model features a new platform and a distinctive coupe-like body that's lower, wider and longer than before. For the first time ever, the Elantra is available as a hybrid, which is capable of returning an EPA-estimated 54 combined mpg. The driver-centric interior is available with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity and a pair of 10.25-inch displays for the main gauges and infotainment system. All models come standard with a long list of safety features and driver aids that make the 7th-generation Elantra a safe place for passengers and even the people and vehicles around it.

Elantra prices start at $19,650 for the entry-level SE model. Beyond that, there's the SEL and sporty N Line - another first for the Elantra. My test car came in the range-topping Limited trim. Aside from exterior/interior color choices and a selection of 12 accessories, there aren't any other boxes to tick for the Elantra Limited, so my press loaner came close to its MSRP of $25,450* with an as-tested price of $26,600.

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2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited Exterior

Exterior view of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited

Given how hot it gets here in Arizona, parking lots are full of white vehicles. Fortunately, my Quartz White tester was easy to spot from any angle. The Elantra's grille has a modern, architectural look to it that's easy to envision as a design flourish on the outside of a metropolitan high-rise building. Two of its outboard cutouts frame the turn signals and form the starting points of the wing-like LED headlights.

In profile, the Elantra looks as if it started life as a giant precious stone and was cut into its multifaceted finished shape. The angular taillights continue the body's most prominent side lines and link together as a full-width light bar right above the stylized E L A N T R A lettering on the trunk lid. Getting my briefcase and camera case in and out of the trunk was as easy as standing next to it with the key fob in my pocket and waiting for the lid to pop up.

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2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited Interior

Exterior view of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited

I have to take three separate highways to get to my favorite coffee shop and those are frequently filled with drivers who are traveling at speeds well above the posted limits. Sometimes it feels like an unofficial road race. Being able to quickly check important information and access key controls is vital. In the Normal and Smart drive modes, the Elantra's digital speedometer and tachometer are displayed on the 10.25-inch main gauge screen in the high-contrast combination of black letters on white dials (Sport switches to white on black with red bezels). The other 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen is slightly angled toward the driver without being an awkward reach for the front passenger. That small panel on the far left of the dashboard? It's not an abstract air vent or futuristic control dial. It's just there for decoration, an odd little touch to enjoy a second or so at a time while you fight your way through traffic.

Right-sized knobs made adjusting the volume of the Bose audio setup and the dual-zone climate control system easy to do without taking my eyes off of the road. Some of the main physical switchgear was effectively redundant, though. I could issue verbal commands to make the Elantra's Dynamic Voice Recognition System change the HVAC fan split, raise or lower the fan speed, turn the AC on or off, and more.

I didn't have to fumble with a USB cable to charge my iPhone on the go because there was a wireless charging pad conveniently placed behind the shift lever. Once I got onto the city streets near my "office," the Auto Hold function saved me the minor inconvenience of keeping my foot on the brake pedal at stop lights.

The back row provided enough adult-size space for comfortable carpooling. I got back there and discovered I had plenty of legroom. Headroom was adequate to accommodate my 5'10" height, but if I was any taller, my head would've scraped the headliner.

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2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited Performance

Exterior view of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited

As of right now, there is no Eco model of the 2021 Elantra. Fortunately, the SE, SEL and Limited trim levels come with a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and Intelligent Variable Transmission that will make trips to the gas station an infrequent occurrence. The SE is the most economical of that group, but its SEL and Limited siblings still managed to earn EPA fuel economy ratings of 31 city, 41 highway and 35 combined mpg. I averaged 31.3 mpg over the course of 178.8 miles.

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2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited Safety

Exterior view of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited

The more I drive in my new home state, the more I appreciate modern automotive engineering. On the highway, it was a comfort to know that the Elantra comes standard with a long list of standard safety and driver assistance features, including Lane Following Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist. In the suburbs and the city, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist and Safe Exit Warning provided me additional peace of mind.

Limited models also come with the convenience and assurance of Highway Driving Assist, Smart Cruise Control and Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist - Reverse. To make a long story full of proprietary names short, that means the new Elantra received a 5-star Overall Safety Rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the highest score possible.

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2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited Overall

Exterior view of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited

More and more people are transitioning back to working in an office instead of…their pajamas. If you're about to make that shift and you're looking for an attractive sedan that's good on gas and loaded with tech and safety features, go to your local AutoNation Hyundai dealership and take the 2021 Elantra for a test drive. It's a great way to get to the office, whether you work around people in business casual attire or baristas in aprons.

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Derek Shiekhi | Jun 25, 2021

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2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited Specs

Layout

4-door, 5-passenger, FWD

Engine/Transmission

Turbocharged 2.0L I4, 147 hp, 132 lb-ftCVT automatic

Mileage

31/41 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★ ★


AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★


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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.