2010 Hyundai Elantra – A week in the life

September 28, 2009 at 9:00 AM 5 comments

For those of you with short attention spans, I’ll tell you now that the 2010 Hyundai Elantra sedan has impressed me. For those of you who know me, there is some serious street cred here. For those of you that don’t, mark a +1 next to this Hyundai in your vehicle search. Read on for a thorough examination.

An example of a 2010 Hyundai Elantra

An example of a 2010 Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai has come a long way from the Excel. Hell, they’ve come a long way from the year 2000!  You may have heard this before, but those that have dared purchase their cars over the last half decade or better have cars that generally serve them well. Hyundais are gaining points in my book for more advanced styling, build quality, and general reliability.  It takes a lot of quality control for a carmaker to turn around like this.  I came to write this, parked in a spot a good distance from the entrance, our 2005 Honda Accord was hit, knocking it out of the spot, and up on a curb by a tree that was once a fair distance behind it. The woman who hit our car was more than honest, and amazingly had a claim called into her insurance before we left the parking lot. Which leads me to my car rental.

When I heard the Enterprise man say “Hyundai Elantra” my mind lept to being crammed in a small car, trying desperately to keep up with traffic, having to turn off the A/C if I needed more power because it had none. I pursued other vehicles and after the discouragement, I succumbed to the Korean beast. Moments later, the man was pulling up in a gleaming white Hyundai Elantra. My first reaction was “It’s got fog lights” but as I would soon find out, these were simple beacons of good things to come. After fitting the car with the rear-facing infant carseat base, I hopped in, adjusted mirrors and was off on my short jaunt to work.

I fully admit that I was prejudiced about this car. Despite the fact that I keep up with the car magazines, and while I knew Hyundai was make leaps and bounds in the market, I had yet to fully endorse a Hyundai to friends or family. My week with the car yielded some surprises that will change, until further notice, my opinion of this South Korean car company. The first surprise was how sprite this thing can be. The 2.0 liter 4-cylinder, at 138 hp, is a far cry from a barn stormer. I know that the Touring models come with a few more ponies under the hood, but this is what you get with the sedan. Tromping on the go pedal actually snapped my head back at bit and got me onto the freeway faster than I ever expected it to. Throughout my week, I came to find there were some things I could not do with the car in traffic that I could with my 4-cylinder Accord and TSX, but overall I found that this engine, and the 4-speed automatic, provided me with enough opportunity to slice-and-dice traffic as needed in my hour-long daily commute.

One strange phenomenon I’ve noticed in my time is a car’s ‘respect factor’ on the road.  The respect factor is about people cutting you off, pulling out in front of you, purposely preventing you from going faster or changing lanes, and general driving courtesy.  I’ve driven Ford Aspires to Ferrari convertibles and I’ll say this Hyundai has one of the worst respect factors I’ve experienced.  Not as bad as the 20 year old two-tone brown Maxima or the faded orange and rusted Datsun B210 I’ve driven, but certainly close.  I can’t tell you how many people just gave this little winner no street cred at all.  My Accord and TSX have a high respect factor, conversely.  Even my 1995 T100 with a camper shell has a higher respect factor, but most can’t stand to be behind it.  I’ve seen more respect in an old Chevy Cavalier than this little thing got.  So as you ponder your car buying decision, remember, people won’t give a flip about you in this car.

Impressive for an economy car

Impressive for an "economy car"

The interior comfortably impresses, in that the dash, feel of the seat fabric, and plastic bits don’t look as though they were salvaged from a toy car. I do have reservations of the “electronic breadboard” pattern of the seat fabric.  While glaringly simple, the interior trim looks quite pleasing, and works quite well in a car at this price point. This “economy” car had a tire pressure monitoring system.  My Acura doesn’t have TPMS.  This Elantra also had power mirrors, power windows, and A/C which I understand to be standard. But it also had a AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 stereo with AUX *AND* USB inputs. Wow! You know what else? The stereo sounded decent, too. This turned out to be a bonus because it helped as a potent condiment to compensate for the noise of the engine. Throughout my week, I found myself almost enjoying my commute, what with being in a car that turned out to not be a penalty box.

The driver’s seat was nearly dining room chair-like, but squishy soft. Not as supportive in the corners as I prefer, but the cloth made up in grip what the seat lacked in bolstering. This very upright seating position, with loads of headroom for my cranium above my abnormally long torso, I had a commanding view of the world from this perch. It reminded me of sitting in my old Nissan Hardbody. A very Goldilocks viewing angle I had, being able to see over most other cars, and high enough to peer through the windows of most of the numerous trucks that populate our roads here in Texas.

Since I transport my now 7 month old to and from daycare, my wife was rightfully concerned about the safety of this car. In haste, I initially set up the carseat base on the rear passenger-side seat, where the LATCH system appeared to be. It was only after a discussion with my wife that I decided to try securing it in the center. The LATCH straps on the base reached their needed destinations and grasped with no ill effect, only that few normal-sized people would be able to sit comfortably next to the carseat base. A quick review of some safety websites showed that the Elantra maintains 5-star ratings for crash safety in all cases, except for the rear side-impact which got it 4-star ratings. Nonetheless, a car that could probably hold its own should we pull the unfortunate card for accidents twice in one month.

The Hyundai Elantra I drove had a few ticks over 600 miles on the odometer when I started. That being said, I was a little concerned that I was hearing buzzing interior pieces from the bass of the stereo, even at modest volume. My ears also detected another minor rattle. My one pet peeve is a rattling interior. Strange since the ride quality of the vehicle was generally soft and more yielding than most. It had an almost Buick-like float with more Japanese control.  It was an odd sensation, but one I came to appreciate over my time with the car.  Hopefully, this buzzing was a quirk of the car I drove and not of the line. However, certainly something to listen for when you test drive your car.

I’m picky about cars. The blinker had an annoying loud, high-pitched ‘tink’ that would wake up my child, my sunglasses seemed to repeatedly get stuck in the holder, I couldn’t seem to get the 1000 watt instrument lighting to dim to a reasonable level at night, the trunk release on the key fob was too easy to depress, and my elbows were rarely comfortable. Don’t let that fool you. This 2010 Hyundai Elantra impressed me. Milling around town in my daily commute, I found the engine power more than adequate for my style of aggressive commuting. The electric power steering was easy-breezy at low speed and firmed up for a solid track on the freeways. The world “easy” keeps coming up. The car simply went about my business in a way that I can only describe as easy. It did the right things, albeit with a purpose-built, mainstream interpretation of a fuel-sipping economy car at high value. A suitable outfit for 9/10ths of your life. You can certainly spice it up with a sunroof and some nice rims, but at the end of the day, this car is a piece of cake; moist, soft, and sweet waiting for the icing of your choice. I now return to my regularly scheduled Honda Accord.


Entry filed under: I Second. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Declaration of Improper Parking Reach out and smack someone

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Soy Bean  |  September 28, 2009 at 11:55 AM

    That’s all fine and well, but does it run on veggie burgers, hugs, and good wishes?

    • 2. Nathan Schmidt  |  September 28, 2009 at 12:34 PM

      Run on? No. Run for? Yes.

  • 3. johnroberts23  |  August 18, 2010 at 2:30 AM

    where would my yamaha raptor 250r fit in?

  • 4. garcinia cambogia dosage  |  August 9, 2013 at 3:20 AM

    I’m gone to convey my little brother, that he should also pay a visit this webpage on regular basis to obtain updated from hottest news.

    • 5. Nathan Schmidt  |  April 18, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      At no point does it say this is a news page. But thanks for the sarcasm! I bet you’re a hit on all the comment boards.


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