Sunday, June 21, 2009
2006 Hyundai Elantra Review
Introduction: The 2006 Hyundai Elantra is a compact car designed to compete against the more common Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. Hyundai has always been made fun of for their earlier admittedly low quality vehicles, the 1st Elantra included. This did not deter Hyundai as they strive to be taken seriously as a large automaker. I'm kind of a loss about the description of the Elantras in general since the Koreans just made cars of all sizes specifically to compete, not innovate. Onto the review then.
The 2006 Elantra was one of the first vehicles I got to drive at my job. My expectations of the car were admittedly low, I've never really taken the Korean cars very seriously. The example I was shown...was in awful looking colour called "Sage Green", its still being used today. I certainly felt just by looking at this car that Honda and Toyota could forget about having Korean competetion catching up.
Performance: All of the North American Hyundai Elantras come with a 2.0L DOHC 4-cylinder engine producing 138 hp and 136 lb. ft of torque which is actually better than what Toyota's 1.8L engine offered. The engine is shared with Mitsubishi meaning this is a joint venture engine. This allowed the Elantra to accelerate from 0-100 in 10 seconds with an automatic transmission, the manual being about to 9 seconds. Having driven this car, the engine while resonably powerful is very unrefined and noisy. I don't mind noise from engines but this car drones and starts sounding more and more awful each time. Power isn't very smooth like you would expect from a modern 4-cylinder. The 2006 Elantra does have some power, but the sacrifices required to get this power do not seem worth it.
My Score: 5/10 - The engine is alright as an a to b engine, but its not enjoyable in any way. The drones particularly were really annoying.
Handling: I didn't expect too much again since this is a regular car attempting to compete against regular cars. The 2006 Elantra had a fairly light wheel but unfortunately did not provide much feel when making turns. Attempting to make a corner in an Elantra is not very memorable and due to the uninvolving nature of the wheel was pretty boring. Hyundai did not put a lot attention to how the car handled or feel and it shows. This Elantra will not excite any enthusiast.
My Score: 3/10 - This wasn't the worst car when it comes to handling but the lack of feel and the lack of fun it gives means it fails in my mind. You do not deserve a good grade if you fail to put in the effort.
My Score: 4/10 - Generic interior, so-so build quality and a terrible stereo. This I think is a very fair score.
Styling: The Korean car companies have never been very good at styling cars. There's always something somebody can spot that the Koreans copied. Currently this was the phase when the Koreans were copying European and the Elantra took a few front cues from the British company MG. Unfortunately they added some Korean bits and thus the car looks angry but ugly at the same time. Its not appealing in any angle be it sedan or hatchback. The picture I displayed is the one I remember, the Sage Green Hyundai Elantra...yuck.
My Score: 2/10 - A failed copy job, with an option for a awful colour
Value for Money: Here is something the Koreans do particularly well in. In the past it was the Japanese who offered extra equipment often propelling the cost of their cars but ending up cheaper than a full loaded car. The Koreans offer lots of equipment at a low price undercutting everybody. The 2006 Elantra comes with a lot of the expected standard options which makes them better equipped than the Civics and Corollas. Hyundai also had a weak reputation in 2006 still meaning they were often cheaper as a whole compared to their American competition with a declining reputation and were offering less. As a low cost compact car, the Elantra looked great in the brochure spec sheet.
My Score: 8/10 - Great value for a low price. Its a pity it took them 2 more years to get everything right.
Overall: 22/50 - A reasonable effort but Hyundai, while its clear this car was not a good vehicle the most importing thing was Hyundai knew this. My low marks for this car is partly due to how much better Hyundais could be.