Pros: Great Value, Reliable, Affordable, Great Gas Mileage.
Cons: Dated Interior, GT Model Isn't Faster.
A couple years ago I purchased a used 2004 Hyundai Elantra to replace a car I wrecked. I really liked the car and provided a positive review on epinions. However, my wife and I had our third child a few months later and we decided we needed a minivan and couldn't afford to be making two car payments, so we decided to sell the Elantra despite how much we both liked the car.
Fast forward to the present time and now my wife and I are in a position to buy a second car for my commute. My experience with my previous Elantra was favorable enough that I decided I wanted another one. So after some searching I found a fully loaded 2006 Elantra GLS with 12,000 miles.
What I found was the Elantra in 2006 hasn't changed much from the 2004 Elantra I used to own.
Whether the styling on the Elantra is "good" or "bad" is entirely an opinion; in my opinion the Elantra's styling is quite nice. The Elantra appears to take a few styling cues from BMW, Honda, and Hyundai's XG-350, but comes up with its own look that's not a knock-off of some other car. The 2004-2006 Elantras are only slightly restyled from the 2001-2003 Elantras, and so the look of the 2006 Elantra seems like it has been around for quite awhile. Even if the styling of the 2006 Elantra is a bit dated now that it's 6 years old, I still like the look of the car better than comparable cars like the Corolla, Sentra, or Civic.
The Elantra is available in a 4 door sedan or 5 door hatchback model. The hatchback has a much different body line in the rear and a unique taillight arrangement.
GT trim cars include a nice spoiler and stylish alloy wheels. They also feature dark grey plastic accents on the bumpers & doors and the chrome inserts in the grille are blacked out as well.
Long trips in the Elantra are comfortable in the front and rear seats. The back is roomy enough for 2 adults or 3 children, but may not be ideal for passengers over 6 feet tall. Visibility is good in all directions.
The look of the dashboard on the Elantra hasn't changed much since it was originally designed in 2001, and it definately looks dated now. But I don't think it looks bad, and I prefer it over the silver plastic that abounds on most modern dashboards. The dashboard is centered on the driver and features clearly visible guages and well placed controls. The A/C and radio controls are intuitively placed on the center pod. My 2006 elantra has the CD player option with upgraded sound, and I am very happy with this option. Power windows and door locks are standard on all Elantras.
The GT model includes leather seats, which I found cheap and uncomfortable when test driving a 2005 Elantra GT. The GT Elantras also come with funky purple backlighting on the guage pod (instead of the normal green) which I found annoying.
Trunk space is good. We had no problems packing luggage for 2 adults and 2 children in our old 2004 Elantra; we even managed to fit a double stroller in there too.
Road noise is about average for a small car. The engine is fairly quiet.
The Elantra's power comes from a 2.0 Liter 4 cylinder engine, which can either be mated to a 5 speed manual transmission or an automatic. My 2006 Elantra has the automatic, which drives smooth for an economy car. Power from the 2.0 Liter engine is sufficient for the car, though it doesn't have a lot of power in the upper RPMs. At idle the engine does make an odd ticking noise; it's apparently not a mechanical problem as I've heard that noise from other Elantras, but it does make the car sound cheap. Gas mileage is really good for an economy car: I see about 28-30 mpg.
The Elantra stops nice and solid with 4 wheel disk brakes. My 2006 Elantra has the anti-lock brake and traction control package, which are an option.
Overall handling is about average for an economy car. It is pleasant car to drive and rides smooth (GT cars have a slightly stiffer suspension). Body roll isn't too bad; the handling is good, although the stock tires are not intended for any kind of performance and will squeal in protest if you push the car too hard into a turn.
I was dissapointed to note that the GT model has no engine upgrades to give it more power, which you would expect from a GT trim car.
Dual front airbags and side-impact airbags (installed in the side bolster of the driver and passenger seat) are standard. The passenger seat has a sensor to tell when a passenger is sitting there and disables the airbags on the passenger side if there is none. I looked up government crash test data and noted the Elantra received 5 of 5 stars for front passengers and 4 of 5 stars for rear passengers.
I've had no significant problems with either of my Elantras. My personal impression is that they are almost at par with the Japanese car-makers and a bit better than American cars.
One of the biggest selling points for Hyundai over the last few years is the warrenty. They offer a limited drivetrain warrenty of 10 years or 100,000 miles, and a bumper-to-bumper warrenty of 6 years or 60,000 miles. Please note: the 10 year/100,000 mile warrenty only applies to the original owner, so if you purchase the car used you only get the 6 year/60,000 mile warrenty.
The Elantra is significantly less than the other cars in its class, which makes it an exceptional value. The base model comes with most of the amenities you expect from modern cars, while things like Cruise Control, CD Player and Sunroof are extra. The only downside is that Hyundai cars have a tendancy to depreciate a little faster than other cars.
The 2006 Elantra is a classy economy car that's inexpensive and a good value. This is the second Elantra I've owned and I've been happy with both of them.