Just call the Hyundai Elantra the comeback kid. Introduced in the early ’90s, the economy-priced sedan didn’t exactly get off to a good start, earning a well-deserved reputation for overall shoddiness and unreliability. But two decades later, the Elantra is now a class leader buoyed by better reliability, agreeable performance, handsome styling and a long list of standard features. Take it for a spin and you’ll likely be impressed with its smooth ride and responsive handling. Throw in a roomy cabin, solid build quality and a lengthy list of safety features, and the Elantra is a formidable competitor in its segment.
Shortcomings? Newer models have quieted the cabin some, but older Elantras let in enough road noise to remind you it’s still a budget compact. It’s also hard to find older Elantras equipped with ABS. But these blemishes fade into insignificance when you consider the great value a new or late-model Elantra represents. If you’re looking for a small sedan that suits a tight budget, Hyundai’s Elantra belongs on your short list of contenders.