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The Most Underrated Car Of 2011!

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On: Fri, Aug 19, 2011 at 12:34PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

The Most Underrated Car Of 2011!

Driving along the mean streets of New Jersey a few days ago, I caught myself doing a double-take on the highway. Now, usually this type of behavior is perfectly acceptable for most cars that make more than 450 horsepower, or the occasional automotive rarity such as a Delorean or mint-condition late-80s Toyota MR2 solely due to their extreme uniqueness. But this particular neck turn wasn’t devoted to anything of the sort; in fact, I found myself very surprised at my own immediate visceral response. The car, believe it or not, was a brand new... wait for it... Indigo Blue Pearl Hyundai Elantra. Suffice to say, this was the biggest automotive surprise for this writer in all of 2011.

Yes, a Hyundai. No, not the sporty coupe. No, not even the high-end $65,000 Equus. No, what caught my eye was the $16,000 four-door Hyundai sedan. Seriously. And the sad part is that even as a writer, I am struggling to explain why it impressed me so, but that won't stop me from trying.

It wasn't the fact that I know that the Elantra has been around a long time (two decades, in fact) and that Hyundai has steadily been improving it since its debut back when Nirvana was raging. Maybe it was it the fact that the Elantra now offers a six-speed manual or automatic transmission (the automatics get an ActiveECO System for 2012 that will improve the Elantra's already efficient powertrain). Or maybe it was because this little front-engine, front-wheel drive transporter has not suffered as much from the 'safety bloat' so many other cars have been affected by, driving up curb weights like an epidemic. No, the Elantra comes in right at about 2600 pounds, which is perfectly reasonable given its number of aforementioned safety features including six interior airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, and even a back-up camera.

Perhaps, it was knowing that the Elantra gets an exceptional 29/40mpg city/highway out of a 1.8-liter inline four that puts out a respectable 148-horsepower and 131 lb-ft of torque (although the 2.0-liter turbo from the Genesis Coupe would probably make this little Elantra a pocket-rocket for sure). Or perhaps it was the fact that the Limited model comes with leather heated front (and rear) seats, as well as Bluetooth.

In a way, it was all of those things, and yet none of them. The newly styled Elantra seems to be more than just the sum of its parts. Its windswept face, flowing lines, and sculpted rear emanate equal parts value and pride. It looks and seems as if Hyundai took quite a bit of time to make sure what they put their name plate on was something they, as well as the car's drivers, could be happy with.

I was aware that the Elantra was new for 2011, but I had not seen one until now. And now that I have seen it in person, it seems to this writer that the Elantra may just have been the most underrated car of 2011. Sure, there were plenty of electric/batter/hybrid headlines over the last 12 months or so, but there was almost no talk about a 'regular' car that gets 40 mpg highway, and treats its economy-class consumers like they are almost luxury-class passengers. The Elantra out-performs its closest rival, the Chevy Cruze, in just about every measurable category, and with its improvements for 2012, the little Hyundai may not go quite so unnoticed in the year to come.

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)



imwithcoco | 1:48PM (Fri, Aug 19, 2011)

I'm with you Lou. I did the same thing a few days ago while shoving another $50 into my Explorer at the Hess station. A Red Pearl Hyundai Elantra pulled up to the pump next to me and I couldn't take my eyes off of it. This car is so much better looking in person than in any photos I have seen.


dwalter | 3:23PM (Mon, Aug 22, 2011)

I noticed one too. Have to agree. That is a handsome Hyundai.

  • dwalter


NEWZPHLASH | 7:40AM (Wed, Aug 24, 2011)

I think Hyundai's entire line in 2011 are some attractive body styles. My sister actually bought a Sonata, she loves it. I test drove one, but didnt like the "no V6" feature even though the 4 had good pick-up, but it was weird driving a "luxury" model with a 4 cylinder...overall awesome car though. The Elantra is sporty looking car, and only $16,000...nice deal!!

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