Even as politicians foist electrification on a populace mostly unwilling to give up their chariots powered by internal combustion engines, the hybrid electric vehicle (or HEV) makes for a perfect intermediary step.
It never needs to be plugged in, and its battery pack never runs out of juice. But it does enable HEVs to return stellar fuel economy.
And while the ungainly little Prius reintroduced the century-old concept in modern times, the technology makes so much sense, one wonders why every gas-powered car isn’t a hybrid by now. Consider the 2023 Hyundai Elantra as exhibit A.
With a starting price of $20,500, and as much passenger space as the midsize Toyota Camry, the compact Hyundai Elantra is truly a sedan that proves far too tempting to resist. Offered with conventional, high performance or hybrid drivelines, the Elantra offers a wide array of personalities. But it’s the hybrid electric model that proves ideal, with enough performance to please most drivers and enough fuel efficiency to make an oil company executive weep.
Opting for the hybrid’s base model, dubbed Blue, means ponying up at least $24,400. We had the chance to sample the Limited, a fully loaded model that starts at $29,000. Here’s what we thought after a week behind the wheel — and no stops needed for refueling after nearly 300 miles.
The Hyundai Elantra retains its distinctive chiseled appearance, one that stands apart in a field of ho-hum design. Like so many cars today, the exterior was chiseled to optimize aerodynamics. Yet designers have imbued its surface with a delightful interplay among its various angles. Its side sculpting projects rearward, accenting the sloping rear backlight lending the vehicle a sense of speed and movement.
Climb inside and you’ll find the driving position is low, typical of compact sedans. But the cabin proves to be roomy both front and rear.
A large digital display consisting if the instrument cluster and multimedia system creates a decidedly horizontal orientation to the instrument panel layout. Controls are intuitive in design, and Hyundai has thoughtfully included a row of physical shortcut buttons for the screen’s various functions, although they are slow to respond.
While the Elantra’s cabin is fitted with the hard plastic of the class, its attractively accented with a sophisticated mix of textures and finishes that lend it an upscale appeal, at least on our Limited test vehicle.
It was also crammed with all of the goodies any hedonist would covet, like heated and ventilated front seats wireless device charging, dual automatic climate control and more. And the controls have an expensive dampened feel, making for a convincing argument that you made a smart purchase. It’s very impressive.
And when comes time to schlep stuff, you’ll find 14.2 cubic feet of trunk space, although it lacks grocery bag hooks, which it should have at this price.
While most Elantras make do with a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission, the hybrid mates its 104-hp, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder to an electric motor to generate 139 hp and 195 pound-feet of torque through a responsive 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard. The hybrid is fitted with an independent rear suspension, whereas lesser trims come with a less-sophisticated torsion beam setup.
Safety and Technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rates the 2023 Hyundai Elantra Limited HEV five stars in all of its crash tests. And while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t tested a 2023 model, the 2022 Elantra sedan was designated a Top Safety Pick.
As with other areas of the Elantra Limited Hybrid, you’ll find its standard list of driver assistance systems to be very complete. They include Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Blind-Spot Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Automatic High Beam, Safe Exit Warning, Parking Assist and Rear Occupant Alert.
When it comes to tech, our Limited tester came front USB ports, wireless device charging, navigation, XM Sirius Satellite radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Elantra Hybrid provides lively acceleration, making it one of the faster mainstream compacts, particularly at speed. The dual clutch transmission performs swiftly and unobtrusively, making it superior to the CVT tranny used in other trims. Steering is very light and loose at low speeds, but still fairly precise.
Body lean is well controlled at low speeds, but is evident as driving becomes more aggressive, although it’s always manageable. Road noise is noticeable, but modest, at highway speed, and bump absorption if ok, but not as good as in the Toyota Corolla. Still, there’s a feeling of sophistication to its responses, be it driving or actuating switchgear.
Being that the hybrid weighs more than its conventionally powered sibling, and has fewer ponies, it is slower. But the hybrid is very lively and responsive at speed. Hyundai has yet to imbue its hybrids with the sportiness it’s capable of engineering. Although an Elantra N Hybrid would be awesome, the Elantra Hybrid proves to be a good alternative to its conventionally powered siblings.
2023 Hyundai Elantra HEV Limited Specifications
|Dimension||L: 184.1 inches/W: 71.9 inches/H: 55.7 inches/Wheelbase: 107.1 inches|
|Powertrain||1.6-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson Cycle engine and electric motor, 8-speed dual-clutch transmission and FWD|
|Fuel Economy||49 mpg city/52 mpg highway/50 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $24,400; As tested: $30,095 including $1,095 destination charge.|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Spacious and gracious in its accommodations, and frugal with fuel, filled with updated tech and driver assist safety systems, the Elantra Hybrid makes for an excellent choice as a daily driver. No, it doesn’t deliver the sportiness you might desire, at least in Hybrid trim. But if you’re willing to surrender fuel economy, and some shekels, opt for the Hyundai Elantra N instead. Otherwise, you’ll find the Elantra to be a fine automotive servant.
2023 Hyundai Elantra HEV — Frequently Asked Questions
Will there be a 2023 Hyundai Elantra hybrid?
Yes. It starts at $24,400 for the Blue model and $29,000 for the Limited trim.
How far can a Hyundai Elantra hybrid go?
It can travel 550 miles on its 11-gallon fuel tank, according to the EPA.
How much does it cost to replace a Hyundai hybrid battery?
Anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000, according to online Hyundai dealer reports.