2011 Hyundai Elantra gets the Top Safety Pick award from IIHS

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 26, 2011

The 2011 Hyundai Elantra has earned the recognition as Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This award was given after the vehicle received a “Good” rating in all crash test categories that comprise front, side, rollover and rear crash protection.

Another plus factor for the Elantra is that it has Electronic Stability Control (ESC). David Zuby, the chief research officer of IIHS, said that over the years, Elantra safety has “improved tremendously.” He added that automakers have improved crashworthiness through various means.

The most significant adjustments include better designs of front crush zones to handle crash energy, stronger roofs so that passengers are better protected in rollovers, and harder compartments so that intrusion would be limited.

Occupants of the 2011 Elantra feel much safer with features like the Vehicle Stability Management or VSM (which manages Electronic Stability Control) and the Motor-Driven electric Power Steering or MDPS. It also has six airbags that include dual front, front seat-mounted side-impact, and front and rear side curtain airbag.

In addition, the Elantra has the most advanced braking package that boasts of having four-wheel disc brakes and an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) including Brake Assist, which leads to maximum braking force when a panic stop is perceived.

It also has Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) that automatically adjusts the braking force to front and rear axles depending on vehicle loading conditions.

One of the design concepts that Hyundai implemented is known as the "Fluidic Sculpture". What this design takes into account is how the wind interacts with the firm surfaces in order to produce an impression of being always on the move. The best example of this is the new Elantra, which is in fact a progression of the design qualities previously seen in the Sonata. The design of the Elantra was done at the company’s North American Design Center located in Irvine, California.

In the U.S. market, sedans that have experienced success have two things in common. The first is that all of them have a Day Light Opening, which is just a fancy term for side glass. The second is that they all have a unique profile. The same is true for the Elantra. The flowing lines that were present in the Sonata are also seen on the sides of the Elantra. The difference is that there is now an undercut feature line that starts at the front door.

With these lines combined and putting in the smooth roofline and the powerful wheel arches, it results in an unforgettable platform that also offers a large space. In addition, the use of flowing lines help with the aerodynamics as the Elantra has a drag coefficient at 0.28, which is lower that even the Chevrolet Volt at 0.29. Its performance is something that should not be taken for granted as well. Powering the Elantra is the Nu 1.8-liter 4-cyliner engine with output at 148 horsepower and peak torque at 131 lb-ft. However the Elantra PZEV will have a unit that has an output of 145 horsepower and maximum torque of 130 lb-ft.

The previous version of the Elantra was powered by the Beta 2.0-liter engine. However, Hyundai decided to develop the Nu engine to serve as a replacement. Aside from being smaller, the Nu engine is lighter by 74 pounds compared to the Beta engine. The reason for this is that the Nu engine makes use of an aluminum block that has the cylinder head, cylinder liner, and crank. Since the aluminum block is lighter compared to an iron block by 30%, the whole engine is therefore lighter.

This resulted in fuel economy (highway) improving by as much as 18%. This engine even has a balance crankshaft design which helps in lowering the friction between its piston and that of the cylinder wall. This results in the fuel economy improving by 1%. Two important features of the Nu engine are the hydraulic engine mounts and the Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing or D-CVVT. These two ensure that power is at maximum and refinement and efficiency is at its optimum. In some models, the D-CVVT is used on the intake camshaft. However since the D-CVVT is used for both camshafts in the Elantra, pumping loss is reduced and thus increase the fuel economy by 2%.

It also helps boost the volumetric efficiency and therefore enhances performance by 2% as well. Finally, it lowers hydrocarbon emissions by as much as 30%. In its valvetrain, the friction created by the valve is lowered due to the hydraulic lash adjusters and the roller swing arms. When compared to direct valve driving, fuel economy is better by 1%. Another key feature in this 1.8-liter unit is the silent timing chain system which does not require any maintenance.

While this may already be an advantage, there are additional benefits as it boosts the durability and enhances the Noise Vibration and Harshness. Then there is the utilization of the two-stage plastic Variable Intake System (VIS).

What this does is allow switching from the short intake manifolds to the long intake manifolds and vice-versa. The impact is an increase in the performance of the other attributes. Even when compared with aluminum for example, weight is still lower by 30%. Performance is boosted by 4%. Of course, this would lead to lowering the cost by 15%. The Elantra is also the first from Hyundai to have double-pipe plumbing or the internal heat exchanger.

With this, the cooling performance of the cabin is upgraded but ensures that the compressor’s capacity is minimized. This also helps in lowering fuel consumption even further. In order to improve the fuel efficiency further, it is recommended that an external controlled variable compressor be used instead of an internal variable compressor.

Thanks to the engineers, the Elantra will not be using the standard mechanical and cable linkage in prior versions. Instead it will now be using an electronic throttle control which has electronics that can respond faster. Since this system is able to control the torque of the engine and the air intake in a more precise manner, it improves response, drivability, and fuel economy. Indeed the Elantra manages to stand out due to its fuel economy.

However as a result of using innovative clean engine technology, a majority of Elantras have been certified by the EPA as Partial Zero Emission Vehicles or PZEV. This is true particularly for units that have been sold in Oregon, California, and some Northeast states. Since the Elantra PZEV has lower emissions like a number of hybrid electric vehicles, it solidifies Hyundai’s commitment to environmental protection. For Elantra units sold outside of the green states, it is offered as an Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle or ULEV.

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