The Hyundai Conumdrum – Sonata or Elantra?

2017 Hyundai Elantra
Everything about the new 2018 Hyundai Sonata was exceptional, including the price. The torque, the comfort, the handling - Impressive to say the least.

How does one best spend a hot August day – With the 2017 Hyundai Elantra or the 2018 Hyundai Sonata? Going into my time in Charleston, S.C., I thought it would be the Elantra, hands down. Sportiness and all, you see.

But, after my first morning with the 2018 Sonata, I found I was really loving the torque, the handling, the roominess, and the styling of the Sonata. As my partner and I pulled out of Charleston Place, I felt good as I hit the accelerator and felt the Sonata respond instantly – so instantly, in fact, my partner’s hand shot for the grip by her window as she cried, Hey, slow down! No need, I replied. She (the Sonata) is in full control, even if you feel I might not be!

There have been significant changes since the outgoing 2017 model, many of which likely have some bearing on my feeling this good about the 2018 model. Hyundai engineers increased the stiffness within the torsion bar and steering stiffness by 12 percent and recalibrated the steering to take full advantage of the change. Rear suspension was also updated with 21 percent thicker trailing arms and new bushings. During the presentation, I had learned that this would lead to the better response that I experienced when driving.

By late morning torrential rain storms descended on the Charleston area and I was really pleased that this model, like every new 2018 Hyundai Sonata, had blind spot detection since I could barely see what was behind me, in front of me or beside me. Press materials note that the Sonata is the only mainstream mid-size car with this and rear cross-traffic alert and a standard rear-view backup camera.

Consumers can bring a new Sonata SE model home for only $22,050 while the ultimate top-of-the-line 2018 Limited model weighs in at $32,450.

I expected sexy and sporty when we met the 2017 Hyundai Elantra the next day in Charleston and I was not disappointed. The Elantra starts at even less than the Sonata, with a base MSRP of only $17,150.

I expected fun when I took the 2017 Hyundai Elantra out along the scenic routes around Charleston, S.C. and I certainly was not disappointed.

Two powertrains are available in new Elantra models – a 2.0 liter 147 horsespower is standard on the SE model and one can move over to a 1.4 liter Kappa turbocharged GDI with 128 horses under the hood. The SE equipped vehicle will return 29 mpg city and 38 mpg highway (33 combined) according to the EPA. The GDI will add two mpg to the combined figures Hyundai estimates.

The new Elantra is deceptively spacious. So much so, in fact, that Hyundai actually expects the EPA to classify it as a large car. It comfortably seats five, and the already ample cargo space can even be expanded by folding down the rear seats when five are not inside enjoying the ride.

We’ve all become accustomed to people comparing their vehicles with those of German extraction, and the new Elantra GT model can lay fame to having been tested on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Throughout hundreds of laps, Hyundai engineers tweeked and improved the suspension to make it comfortable while still keeping the sporty performance one would expect in a GT.

There is lots of technology available to enjoy in the Elantra, inclduding Infinity Premium Audio with Clari-Fi™, Apple CarPlay™, Android Auto™, and wireless smartphone charging. We did find that every time we plugged in our cell phones to be charged, the stereo suddenly ceased because of the phone. Thankfully, we found that the feature could be disabled in talks with an onsite engineer.

Decisions, decisions. Sonata or Elantra? One can best make that decision by visiting a dealer and test driving them both. Safe driving everyone!