Hyundai Motor Co.’s rivals in the small-car segment should be wary as the more fuel-efficient, restyled Elantra is set to enter the market early next year. Hyundai has already cut into sales of Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. in the U.S. midsize-sedan segment this year but it looks like Hyundai is keen on extending its market share further.
At the Los Angeles Auto Show, John Krafcik, Hyundai's U.S. CEO, told reporters that the 2011 Elantra sedan can return 40 miles per gallon in highway driving and 29 mpg in the city.
Hyundai asserts that this model has the best fuel-economy in the segment, beating Toyota's Corolla, Honda's Civic, Nissan Motor Co.'s Sentra and even Ford Motor Co.'s new Focus small car. This year, Hyundai's U.S. sales have gone up by 21 percent, aided by a 64 percent boost in sales of the mid-sized Sonata.
Deliveries of Toyota's Camry, which is the No. 1 passenger car in terms of sales, have fallen 6.3 percent while those of the Honda Accord have dropped by 3.4 percent.
Hyundai’s U.S. sales this year was able to beat its previous record of 467,009. This improvement is attributed to its enhanced designs, better fuel efficiency and the fact that frequently, its cars are priced lower than rivals.
George Kang, an analyst for industry researcher Edmunds.com, said that it is Elantra's “cutting-edge” styling that makes it stand out and makes it appealing to consumers. Kang added that Hyundai has gained the public’s trust.
The Elantra, which is equipped with a 1.8-liter engine and six-speed transmission, is priced from $15,550 and can go as high as $22,700 for the Limited Premium model.
Krafcik said that it’s likely that Hyundai will be the industry leader in 2011 in sales of vehicles that achieve at least 40 miles per gallon, helped out by the Elantra and new Sonata hybrid due next year.
The latest Hyundai Elantra is installed with a McPherson strut front suspension, along with gas shock absorbers and coil springs. The back suspension is light and with a torsion beam rear suspension for improved steering balance and monotube shock absorbers for driving comfort. A front stabilizer bar that is 23.0 mm in diameter aids to cut down body roll when cutting corners.
Every Elantra has a motor-driven, column-mounted electric power steering that adapts right away to various driving situations while enhancing fuel efficiency on a standard steering system. A fast-ratio steering rack is utilized for an edgy driving feel on every turn-in. Hyundai Elantra's 34.8 ft diameter for turning is more efficient than Toyota Corolla's 35.6 ft.
Achieving an extremely-balanced vehicle was one of the goals for the engineering team of Hyundai Elantra. Actually, the 2011 Elantra is the best in weight efficiency compared to other cars in its class. Hyundai engineers also made it a point to make it the leader in power-to-weight ratio. With these goals in mind, the model was able to reap rewards in both fuel efficiency and performance.
The Elantra's extensive use of super strong steel gives a 37 percent gain in body strength even at a reduced weight. High-strength steel enables the suspension to function well. At 2,701 lbs, the Hyundai Elantra GLS in auto transmission is lighter than cars it’s matched with, while giving more interior space than Cruze, Focus, Corolla and Civic. Its exterior-bending rigidity is 50% better than the Corolla. This effective unibody design enables the Elantra to reach around 40 mpg EPA highway rating, without requiring a special eco model.