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2001 Hyundai Elantra
Ron Moorhead

Introduction
Hyundai's Elantra has been redesigned for 2001. They've made it larger and roomier. The four-cylinder engine is larger and more powerful than last year's, and remains better than many other subcompacts.

Elantra's list of standard features indicates its anything but a rudimentary vehicle. Keeping loyal customers continues to be tied to a surprisingly complete warranty. The Hyundai Advantage extends bumper-to-bumper coverage to five years or 60,000 miles, while the powertrain is warranted for 10 years or 100,000 miles.

Hyundai's warranty wouldn't mean much unless the Elantra were reliable and owners could count on this compact. In fact, if the vehicle were difficult to live with then all the guarantees in the world would not mean much. Fortunately, the Elantra is much improved and continues to improve in fit-and-finish while providing decent performance. The Elantra continues to make great strides in changing perceptions of small Korean cars.

The previous edition Elantra proved that Hyundai was making an unqualified mark on the economy car market. This year's improvements to the car along with the extensive warranty Hyundai instituted, advanced the brand in many car buyer's minds. Hyundai continues with the third generation by maintaining Elantra's solid position of offering a sensible, well-equipped subcompact at a reasonable price. Model Lineup
Only one trim level is available, the GLS four-door sedan. The sedan retails at $12,499 with the 5-speed manual, and $13,299 with an automatic. (The wagon has been dropped from the lineup for 2001.)

Elantra GLS includes such popular features as air conditioning, power windows, mirrors and door locks, thick cut-pile carpeting, a tachometer and six-way adjustable driver's seat. Better still, Hyundai is providing more features, while retaining a very reasonable price.

With the reasonable base price, and judicious selection of options, a buyer can tailor the Elantra to taste without breaking the bank. We appreciate the available 5-speed transmission that came on our test car. Our vehicle was equipped with the most popular of the factory options, cruise control and keyless entry, which adds $400 to the price. Other options available include a moonroof, alloy wheels and stereo upgrade, which can bring the price to $14,134 with the $435 destination charge. Adding the optional ABS, brought the price to $15,284. Walkaround
Elantra widens its distinction from other small sedans with its new styling. It's a pleasant appearance, with rounded fenders, a sloping hood, a new grille and trapezoidal headlight assemblies. The changes add more than good looks. This redesign has lowered the Elantra's coefficient of drag to 0.333. The large greenhouse affords good outward visibility in all directions. The restyled trapezoidal headlamps improve the pattern of light that spreads across a wider field of vision of road ahead.

The Elantra's doors open wide for easy access to both front and rear seats, and its trunk provides 11 cubic feet of cargo space--above average in this class. Unfortunately, the trunk opening is rather small, making it difficult to load larger items that should easily fit. Interior
Expanding the Elantra platform has provided more interior room translating to a more comfortable passenger compartment. Stretching the wheel base by 2.3 inches results in increased rear legroom as well as increased headroom and hip room for both front and rear passengers. Hyundai continues expanding a higher level of quality in Elantra's passenger cabin. This improvement isn't measured by bells and whistles, but by a clean, efficient design, that invokes a more pleasant interior. The instrument panel is more contemporary, presenting gauges in an easy to read manner.

The cloth-upholstered seats are larger than the previous version making way for more comfortable seating. The driver's seat has six-way adjustments and height adjustment. Front headrests and seatbelt anchors are also adjustable. Side airbags are now standard equipment in the Elantra making a much safer sedan, especially welcomed in a car of Elantra's price.

Remote trunk and fuel release and a carpeted cargo compartment are standard.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning are now controlled with rotary switches, rather than the sliding type. They're much easier to locate and adjust while driving. Unfortunately, Hyundai didn't extend these improvements to the radio controls, and that's our primary gripe. The buttons are so small that adjusting them distracts from the task of driving.

No one is going to mistake the Elantra or any compact vehicle for a luxury car, but offering a lush cabin isn't what this car does best. This Hyundai was designed and built to provide the most economical transportation it can, while providing as much comfort as possible. Let's face it folks we aren't talking a luxurious limousine here. The Elantra is a compact sedan that will carry four adults, five in a pinch, just about anyplace they have reason to travel comfortably, economically and worry free. Driving Impressions
The Elantra's engine performs well and in many cases beats the competition. The twin-cam four-cylinder engine produces 140 horsepower and 133 foot-pounds of torque, which is impressive power in this class. We noticed that the engine can be particularly inharmonious when run at high revs for an extended stretch. But it launches quickly from a stop and offers good acceleration performance for passing other cars.

We tested the new Elantra through city streets and over Interstate highways. We even climbed some pretty treacherous mountain roads, and everywhere we took the car, except the steepest grades, the Elantra preformed well. Even on mountain passes it had no trouble keeping with the flow of traffic. We often recommend selecting a manual transmission when performance is a priority; and this is especially true on economy cars. However, the Hyundai four-speed automatic is up to the work-a-day grind of commuting and running errands.

Elantra's suspension is fully independent and quite sophisticated for the economy category. Plenty of cars that cost $10,000 more than Elantra, don't have multi-link rear suspension, or speed-sensitive power steering. The steering assist gives the wheel a light touch at low speed, for easy parallel parking, yet it's not overly sensitive at highway speed. Feedback through the steering wheel gives the driver a pretty good idea of how well the front tires are gripping.

Elantra's ride quality is reasonably compliant, yet controlled, and it handles twisting mountain roads in fine fashion. Only on the most uneven stretches of freeway, where joints and undulations can get the suspension hopping does the Elantra get bouncy.

Hyundai's continued effort to moderate shakes and limit cabin noise have made the newest Elantra a much tighter package. Noise and vibration exist inside the Elantra's cabin, but below that of other subcompacts. The engine can get loud when run wide-open. Yet overall, the Elantra is smoother and quieter than previous-generation models. Summary
This third-generation Hyundai Elantra proves to be a more formidable competitor for the Dodge Neon, Honda Civic and other small cars. Adding the most popular features without increases to the sticker warrants that the Elantra be added to the "must consider" list for anyone who is in the hunt for a small car at a reasonable price.

This isn't the most refined car in its class, but it's a long way from the least refined. The Elantra offers a low price, high value and long warranty.

Model as tested
GLS Sedan ($12,499)
Basic Warranty
5 years/60,000 miles
Assembled in
Ulsan, Korea
Destination charge
435
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
12499
Price as tested
14134
Options as tested
cruise control and keyless entry ($400)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
GLS Sedan ($12,499)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual front air bags, dual front side air bags, pretensioner front seat belts, Child seat anchors standard; ABS optional
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
2.0-liter 4-cylinder
Transmissions
4-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
air conditioning, power windows, door locks and mirrors, AM/FM with cassette, tilt steering wheel, remote trunk and fuel filler door, 60/40 split rear seat and automatic transmission

Engine & Transmission
Engine
2.0-liter 4-cylinder
Drivetrain type
front-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
140 @ 6000
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
24/33
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
disc/drum
Suspension, front
MacPherson strut
Tires
P195/60R15
Suspension, rear
multi-link

Accomodations
Seating capacity
5
Head/hip/leg room, middle
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, front
39.6/53.0/43.2
Head/hip/leg room, rear
38.0/55.6/35.0

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
11.0
Wheelbase
102.7
Length/width/height
177.1/67.7/56.1
Turning circle
37.5
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
N/A
Track, front/rear
58.5/58.1
Ground clearance
N/A
Curb weight
2698


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