The toughest vehicles for automakers to get right are affordable ones. Between a smaller development budget and a price-conscious consumer base, they have their work cut out for them. Some, however, do this better than most with Hyundai Motor Group being the best example. Its two mainstream brands, Hyundai and Kia, specialize in the art of giving you more for your money, which allowed them to quickly rise to the top. The 2022 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid is one of the best examples of this. Look past the crazy exterior styling and you’ll find lots of surprises underneath.
Attention-Grabbing Style Without Sacrificing Space
Upon first sight of the 2022 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid, most consumers will likely love or hate the way it looks. Considering all the angles, its wedge-like shape, and imposing face, its looks aren’t for everyone. Get inside and you’ll find a modern, neatly appointed cabin with a driver-centric orientation. Even with its low roofline, four adults fit comfortably. Just make sure you mind your head when entering and exiting. You have a sizable trunk, 60/40 split-folding rear seats for additional flexibility, and a wide cubby under the center stack that easily fits big smartphones. There’s also a neat insert in the front cupholders that gives you two levels of depth by simply flipping the insert over.
Hyundai did a great job ensuring their vehicles feel special and it’s evident in the Elantra Hybrid. This Limited-grade test car gets cool woven cloth inserts on the front seats and door cards, complementing the two-tone black and light gray leather upholstery. Although hard plastics abound, they’re nicely textured and feel sturdy. Surfaces where your arms fall have padding as does the center console lid. There’s also a cool grab handle on the center console that the front passenger can hold on to during those “Oh S***!” moments.
2022 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid: Tech Tour de Force
Hyundai Motor Group vehicles always have some of the best tech features. That’s the case with the Elantra Hybrid, which possesses a user-friendly setup that retains physical buttons and knobs. The Limited grade gets two 10.25-inch displays with vivid graphics that put this interface above nearly everything. Like in pricier Hyundai products, the main touchscreen responds quickly and features crisp, vibrant graphics. You also get the Sounds of Nature app for the time you need an ASMR moment listening to birds chirping, waves crashing, or fire burning within a fireplace. The eight-speaker Bose audio system ranks among the best too, offering crisp sound quality and excellent cabin coverage.
Like the infotainment system, the Elantra’s driver assistance features are essentially the same as in pricier Hyundai vehicles. Every model gets the Smart Sense driver assistance suite as standard equipment. Components like lane-centering and steering assist operate smoothly, gently correcting your trajectory when you start to drift. Highway Driving Assist, Hyundai’s semi-autonomous system, does a fantastic job following traffic flow and proactively keeps your set distance. It also reacts quickly when another vehicle merges in your lane or cuts you off, decelerating or braking to keep you out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, only the range-topping Limited trim gets Highway Driving Assist.
Unlike the edgy exterior design, the Elantra Hybrid’s powertrain possesses impressive levels of polish. It couples a 1.6-liter I-4 with an electric motor, a 1.32-kWh lithium-ion battery, and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for a combined output of 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Don’t let those numbers fool you because the Elantra Hybrid offers punchy acceleration. This becomes most apparent in Sport mode, which induces the powertrain to give you full power all the time. Between that and the car’s 3,069-pound curb weight, it gets moving without any fuss. Smooth, quick shifts from the responsive gearbox also enhance the Elantra Hybrid’s energetic character.
Having that pep doesn’t come at the cost of efficiency. EPA rated at 49/52/50 mpg city/highway/combined, the Elantra Hybrid sips fuel. During my week with it, I averaged an impressive 56 mpg, making this a legitimate 550-mile vehicle. You’ll need to stop for a restroom break first before filling up for gas.
2022 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid: Refined and Fun
Complementing the Elantra Hybrid’s polished powertrain is a refined yet sporty driving experience. Like the N Line and fire-breathing N model, the electrified Elantra gets an independent rear suspension, giving it a taut yet supple ride. This gives the sedan the same level of better refinement than some pricier entry-level luxury entries because of how well it rides yet manages to not float or flop around. The Limited trim’s 17-inch alloy wheels come with wider, lower-profile rubber than the base model’s 16-inch units. Thankfully, they have thick sidewalls, preserving the comfortable ride.
Having an independent rear suspension also improves the Elantra Hybrid’s handling. This change alone makes the car fun to drive enthusiastically. It’s willing to dive into corners and slice through them at high speeds. Exceptional body control and surprising amounts of grip from the all-season tires inspire you to cut through turns confidently and precisely. Tight, accurate steering that’s quick and response adds to the car’s fun-loving character while torque vectoring accomplished via braking the inner wheel improves turn-ins.
Great brakes contribute to the Elantra Hybrid’s excellent road manners. The firm pedal gives you good levels of resistance while a linear delivery of stopping power and smooth transitions from regenerative to mechanical braking allows you to input just the right amount. This also adds to the car’s natural feel and it won’t throw you forward if you have to stop suddenly. You also get good levels of energy recuperation, allowing you to recharge the battery when slowing down. However, there’s no one-pedal capability, meaning you need to use the brake pedal to come to a standstill.
If you haven’t already figured out by the tone of this article, the 2022 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid is a stellar compact car. It checks many boxes and gives you so much that this easily ranks among the best in the segment. Best of all, you don’t need to spend much to get all of this goodness. The base Blue trim starts at $25,195 and comes with a long list of standard equipment. This range-topping Limited test car costs $29,850 as tested. That’s a downright steal considering how efficient, fun, comfortable, roomy, and tech-packed this sedan is. For the money, it’s hard to beat the Elantra Hybrid. No other compact sedan does everything so well yet manages to stay within the reach of the average consumer. It’s the best example of an attainable vehicle done brilliantly.