October 25, 2013

Review: Hyundai Elantra / Avante

For the occasion of my brother's wedding, my family completely ruined our carbon footprint for this year. Because this is the middle of the school year, we flew over for just a few days, and we rented a car so that my dad could come with us everywhere.

The rental car was a Hyundai Elantra, a four-door sedan. I was offered an upgrade at pickup time, but declined, figuring you shouldn't drive a rental car that's too much larger than the one you drive daily. I hear this car is popular with rental car agencies because of its good maintenance record.

The Elantra falls in the "Economy" rental bracket, which means it carried five of us comfortably. Our luggage rattled around in the large trunk, which could easily accomodate both our cellos. There were a few blind spots that were larger than I would like, particularly the bar between the front windshield and the side windows.

The Elantra had a slight drive-by-wire feel to the handling, but it wasn't overwhelming. Its 1.8L, 148HP engine was completely up to the job of moving the car even when fully loaded (five people plus luggage), even for quick insertions in rush-hour traffic.

Here is one of those few cars that is sold in the US with an engine comparable to that offered elsewhere (instead of significantly larger). The 1.8L engine is the only one available in the US (and in New Zealand also), but that is down from the former offering of a 2.0L gasoline engine. In Korea (where this car is named the Avante) there is choice of three drivetrains, all with a 1.6L volume.

The Korean Avante GDi runs on unleaded gasoline (33mpg), while the VGT runs on low-sulphur diesel, has a slightly lower power (128HP) but packs 50% more torque than the American 1.8L, at higher fuel efficiency (48mpg). [I take it that the Korean test cycle is now reasonably accurate, since they quote the Toyota Prius at 50mpg].

There is also an Avante Hybrid, which is unusual in that it is an LPG hybrid running on liquid petroleum gas (a mixture of propane and butane which tends to burn much cleaner, especially for particulates, than gasoline containing longer hydrocarbon chains). It is quoted at 33 mpg but puts out only 92 g CO2 / km. [For comparison, a gasoline engine doing 59mpg would exhaust 92 g CO2/km].

Also becoming more rare now is the 10-year, 100,000 mile limited warranty on the powertrain, which backs up the Elantra's reputation for reliability. Its fuel efficiency of 37 mpg as reported by real drivers is really very good, and you can't complain about the price tag.

Compared to the 1.8L gasoline available in the US now, I would expect the diesel version with the smaller 1.6 engine volume to have a similar price point. But it delivers 43 mpg, making it very attractive for the long run as well. I hope it will come to the US soon.


Hyundai Elantra / Avante

Elantra (US) Avante (KR) Avante (KR)
Type GLS 1.6 GDi Style U2 1.6 VGT
Year 2013 2013 2013
Emissions rating ULEV    
MSRP $ 16,965 ₩ 13,950,000
(US $ 13,190)
₩ 15,950,000
(US $ 15,100)
CelloMom Rating
Fuel Economy:
City/Hwy quoted 28 / 38 mpg 12.5 / 16.7 km/L 16.9 / 20.8 km/L
Avg. quoted 32 mpg 14.1 km/L
18.5 km/L
Avg. actual 37 mpg    
Carbon emissions, quoted   122 g CO2 /km 103 g/km
Engine 1.8L, 16 vlv 1.6L 1.6L
Power 148HP @ 6500rpm 140 HP @ 6300rpm 128 HP @ 4000rpm
Torque 131 lb-ft @ 4700rpm 170 Nm
(125 lb-ft)
@ 4850rpm
265 Nm
(195 lb-ft) @
Transmission 6-spd man 6-spd man 6-spd man
Fuel Reg. unleaded Unleaded Diesel
Length, mm(in) 178.3 in 4550 mm  
Width, mm(in) 69.9 in 1775 mm  
Height, mm(in) 56.5 in 1435 mm  
Weight, kg(lbs) 2661 lbs 1210 kg 1305 kg
Trunk volume, liters(cuft) 14.8 cuft    
Turning radius, m(ft) 34.8 c-c    
Top speed, kph(mph)      



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