2020 Hyundai Elantra

By April 3, 2020

Compact sedans are a shrinking breed, but the 2020 Hyundai Elantra endures, with the best qualities: affordability, gas mileage, and safety. The fact that it also comes as a hatchback helps. The sedan is more popular because the hatchback, called the GT, is higher performance and costs more.

The Elantra was refreshed for 2019 with a more angular face, so the changes for 2020 are small, but significant. There’s a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) that improves gas mileage by 2 mpg, and active safety equipment becomes standard on all models. Also, the GT hatchback gets a name change to its sportier model, now called the N Line, to sound more like the pocket-rocket Veloster N.

Four of the six Elantra sedans use a 2.0-liter inline-4 making 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, mated to the new continuously variable transmission (CVT), with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive isn’t available.

There’s also a 128-hp 1.4-liter turbo-4 exclusive to the Eco sedan. It’s paired to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission and offers all the fun you might expect from a small turbo with a dual-clutch. That transmission is also used on both the GT hatchbacks.

The sixth sedan is the Sport. It’s powered by a 201-hp 1.6-liter turbo-4 with the 7-speed dual clutch programmed to upshift at higher rpm.

The sedan might be more popular, but the hatchback has an upscale cabin, more interior space, and handles better.

The new CVT that replaces the 6-speed automatic in the 2.0-liter inline-4 boosts the 2020 Elantra to an average of 30 mpg city, 40 highway, 34 combined in SEL, Value Edition, and Limited models, while the base SE gets 31/41/35 mpg.

The Eco sedan with the 1.4-liter turbo-4 lives up to its name, being the most fuel efficient at 33/41/36 mpg, which matches the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

The gas mileage of the sporty Elantra GT hatchback with a 6-speed automatic transmission instead of the CVT suffers a bit, at 25/27/32 mpg.

The Elantra sedan and hatchback earned the best “Good” ratings on all six crash tests from the IIHS, in 2019. The Limited model with its LED projector headlights earned a Top Safety Pick+ award. The halogen lights on other models were rated at “Poor.” The NHTSA rates the Elantra at four stars due to weak side barrier protection.

The biggest safety change to the 2020 Elantra is automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and a driver-attention warning, all standard in every model.

Model Lineup

The 2020 Elantra sedan comes in SE, SEL, Value Edition, Limited, Eco, and Sport trims, while the GT hatchback comes in base and N Line trim.

At $19,880 (including $920 destination), the 2020 Elantra SE comes with power doors and locks, six-way manual adjustable front seats, cloth seats, Bluetooth, remote keyless entry, a USB, a tiny 5.0-inch touchscreen, dual climate control, 3.5-inch digital vehicle info display, 60/40 split folding rear seats, and 15-inch wheels.

The $20,620 SEL adds a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, voice recognition, Sirius XM Radio (with subscription after the first 3 months), heated side mirrors, automatic headlights, and 16-inch alloy wheels. It’s a no-brainer, given the small difference in price over the SE.

For another small jump up to $21,520, the Value Edition adds approach lights that illuminate when the key fob is near, a sunroof, one-touch driver’s window, heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

The $24,720 Limited trim adds leather upholstery, an 8-way power driver’s seat, an Infinity sound system, the safer LED headlights and taillights, some more chrome trim pieces, and 17-inch alloy wheels. A $3,350 Ultimate Package for Limited includes adaptive cruise control, and an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation.

The $22,170 Eco brings the 1.4-liter turbo-4 with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission, and adds LED daytime running lights and a second USB port to the equipment in the base SE.

Starting at $21,570, the GT hatchback is equipped much like the sedan.

For $23,720, the Sport gets the most powerful 201-hp 1.6-liter turbo-4, an independent rear suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, sleeker styling in the front and rear, more bolstering in the seats, and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

The $24,420 GT N Line hatchback gets 18-inch alloy wheels with Pilot Sport 4 tires and an independent rear suspension. It uses the same engine as the Sport sedan.


Freshened one year ago, the Elantra looks contemporary, with a horizontally stretched grille and triangular headlights that wrap into the fenders. It’s angular, but with a better harmony than some of the more geometric experiments on other compacts.

The Elantra GT hatchback missed the freshening and wears an older and less cohesive front end, without the triangular headlights and foglights; but in the rear it has the blockier crossover shape that’s sharper than the snubbed look of the sedan.


Inside, the sedan and hatchback aren’t twins. There’s a good use of interior storage space and pockets in both, but the cabin of the sedan is more integrated than the hatchback. The sedan’s touchscreen (in three sizes) is part of the dashboard design, whereas on the hatchback it sticks out like a mounted tablet. The three-dial climate control isn’t as busy in the sedan, with clearer temperature displays and larger buttons.

The Sport model has red accent stitching and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

The seating position and standard 6-way driver’s seat makes for a comfortable ride with good outward vision. Most models feature textured cloth upholstery, while the Limited and Sport models get black leather that sharply balances the chrome trim pieces. The 8-way power driver’s seat in Elantra Limited is the comfiest of the bunch, while the Sport’s bucket seats hugs in the right curves of average-sized bodies.

The rear seat is reasonably roomy with 35.7 inches of leg room in the sedan, a bit less in the hatchback. Head room is good, and the flat rear bench seat with the 60/40 split folding seatback can fit three at best.

Sedans have just 14.4 cubic feet of trunk space, but the hatchback’s tailgate opens to swallow an extra 10 cubic feet with the rear seats upright, and a hefty 55 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat.

Driving Impressions

Most Elantra sedans—SE, SEL, Value Edition, and Limited—use a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 with a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) that makes 132 pound-feet of torque in front-wheel drive. It’s quiet and powerful enough for passing and merging onto the freeway. The new CVT makes its simulated shifts based on how hard the car is accelerating, much like an automatic. It is well programmed. However it still behaves more like a CVT than an automatic; with the throttle floored the engine will rev at about 5,000 rpm, and stay above 4,000 until you back off. In relaxed driving, the transmission stays at about 1,300 rpm, which helps keep engine noise to a minimum.

The 128-hp 1.4-liter turbo-4 is exclusive to the Eco sedan. Paired with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, the little engine is worth a few small thrills.

The Elantra sedan’s ride is soft enough. Its rear torsion-beam axle does a good job of absorbing the bumps.

The Sport sedan is powered by a 201-hp 1.6-liter turbo-4, with the Eco’s 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission re-programmed for later shift points.

The base GT has a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-4 with the dual-clutch to make 161 horsepower.

The GT N Line also uses that engine. It gets 18-inch alloy wheels with Pilot Sport 4 tires and an independent rear suspension. That dynamic suspension provides a more responsive ride.

Final Word

There’s a lot to choose from with the 2020 Hyundai Elantra, a lot to confuse a shopper, with three engines having four horsepower levels, two transmissions, and two body styles. We like the SEL sedan for its value, and because the sedan with the base engine is probably the most true to the Elantra’s mission. But the 36 mpg that’s delivered by the Eco’s small turbo-4 makes it mighty tempting. Generally we’ll take a hatchback over a sedan for its functionality, but in this case we’ll pass on the GT because if it’s a hot hatch we want, we’ll go for the Hyundai Veloster.


—By Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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