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2007 Hyundai Elantra

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San Francisco: Every time Hyundai introduces a replacement for a model, it ups the ante significantly. This time, the trusty Elantra gets breathed on, and the result is remarkable.

Iíd call it the Korean Corolla except that itís actually bigger than a Corolla -by more than eight cubic feet of interior space. It beats the Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra in the spaciousness category, too. Itís so big the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates it as a midsize car, not a compact, yet it competes with compacts in the marketplace.

Itís not just the increased room that might attract you to the Elantra - it actually looks nice too. The way the body sides curve upward as they lead to the back is a little like a 1970ís Nissan 710, but the overall look is polished and substantial. The carís face wears a benevolent, wise look that Hyundai finally got just right.

Inside, the dash and trim pieces are much what you would expect in this price range, but are about as good as it gets there. The texturing of the plastics is finally world class, and the fit and finish leave nothing to be desired. The matte finish dash sweeps gracefully into the doors. The instrument panel layout is simple and clear, but bears not a trace of ďbudgetĒ about it. The speedometer reads an ambitious 140 mph. The ubiquitous metallic accents made of plastic are present here, but the one on the top of the center console showed signs of wear already.

The Elantra is a comfortable place to sit. The seats are covered in a tan cloth whose design reminded me of rows of coffee beans. The slim headrests are angled forward to protect your neck in a crash. I was impressed by seeing illuminated vanity mirrors on the sun visors, which also slide on their mountings for side sun protection. Handy trunk-mounted handles let you release the rear seatbacks for cargo hauling.

The Elantra comes in three flavors - GLS, SE, and Limited. Even the GLS has loads of features that used to be luxuries, such as power windows, power locks, power heated mirrors, remote keyless entry, intermittent wipers, tilt wheel, and a tachometer in the instrument panel.

For safety, the Elantra gives you six standard airbags and four-wheel disc brakes with antilock. Thereís even a rear center armrest with cupholders.

You can order a Preferred package and a sunroof, but you can also step up to the SE model, which adds in a telescoping leather steering wheel with audio controls, leather on the shift knob, 16-inch alloy wheels, and a trip computer. My test car was an SE, in Purple Rain paint (a Prince fan in Hyundaiís paint naming department?). The Preferred package for the SE adds heated seats and a sunroof.

The Limited model gives you leather seats, door panels, and center armrest. You can upgrade the sound system and add a sunroof if youíd like, but other wise, itís a full boat.

All Elantras are motivated by a 2.0 liter, dual overhead camshaft four that puts out either 138 or 132 horsepower, depending on which state you buy it in. The extra clean Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (SULEV) sold in my home state of California get the lower horsepower, but that seems like plenty for the job at hand. You canít whip out into the left lane and zoom past dawdling drivers, but you have enough pep to keep up with the flow without feeling helpless.

EPA Fuel mileage is 28 City, 36 Highway, and the Green Vehicle

Guide gives the SULEV model excellent scores of 9.5 for Air Pollution and 8 for Greenhouse Gases. That makes it the sixth best vehicle in the entire 82-page listing, sitting with the hybrids at the top of the chart.

Whatís really remarkable is that this green car lists for as little as $13,995 for the GLS with no options. My SE, with four-speed automatic, came to $17,380. The Limited base price is $1,000 more than that of the SE.

Hyundai has built its success on delivering more for the money, and it adds comparable quality and design, and now with the SULEV Elantra, environmental consciousness.

If youíve priced hybrids lately, you know that the Elantra is an incredible deal. Other than one buzz in the driverís door, I had no complaints, and continue to be amazed at the progress Hyundai is making.  By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco


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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  This green car lists for as little as $13,995
Topic:  The 2007 Hyundai Elantra
Word Count:  810
Photo Caption:  The 2007 Hyundai Elantra
Photo Credits:  Hyundai Elantra Internet Media
Series #:  2007 - 48

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