I don’t know what the heck I’m doing in an Electric Blue car. This bright blue isn’t my favorite color, but it’s the color I ended up in this weekend when I went to Imperial Beach, California, to test drive the 2017 Hyundai Elantra.
Turns out, the color wasn’t important once I was inside the Elantra. Because, holy moly, this is techno geek heaven. The 2017 Elantra:
- Syncs with Apple watch
- Syncs with pretty much every other smart watch
- Loads Apple Car Play to the touchscreen when I plug in my phone
- Loads Android Auto to the touchscreen if you have an Android phone
- Has BlueLink connected car service for emergencies, directions, restaurant reservations and of course, tracking where the car has been and how fast it drove
- Opens the trunk if you stand behind the car with the key in your purse or pocket
- Has smart cruise that adjusts the car’s speed to flow with traffic
- Stops automatically if it thinks you’re going to hit something
- Has blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and rear cross traffic alert
- Has two places to plug in a USB and two cigarette adapter power ports
- Has heated seats (including in the back seat if you wish!)
- Has touchscreen navigation that features the speed limit of the road you’re on
- Has sport, eco and normal driving modes with manual drive option
- Has a push button starter
- Has articulating headlights that turn with your wheels to illuminate the path ahead
- Averages 29 MPG in the city and gets up to 38 MPG on the highway
- Has a ridiculously low price tag
OK, color is important. So I made the switch from the bright blue to the navy blue but never got to drive a white one, which is the one I’d go for—with a tan interior—because all this great technology looks better in a white car. It just does.
Who this car is for: drivers with big tastes and smaller budgets
Hyundai describes the Elantra compact sedan as designed for drivers searching for a small car that packs a lot of personality: small, agile and great MPG but with the technology and pampering that a more expensive car would offer.
And that is Hyundai’s DNA; every one of its models is built to undercut the competition by giving its owners more ‘content,’ or features, for the money.
Hyundai has a nice pipeline for this: The company develops many premium features for its Genesis luxury sedan and then extends them into the company’s other models.
Perfect for the techno geek driver
This strategy of developing high-end features for mid-priced cars has kept Hyundai at the front of technology; the Korean company was one of the first to integrate smart phone technology into its cars. And while it used to be that you had to wait for the new model year to get a car that has all the latest tech, Hyundai thinks you should have it as soon as possible. So if there is an update available, you’ll get it when you bring your car in for service, not when you buy the new model. When we made this video showing how you can start your car with the Apple Watch, Android Auto hadn’t yet been released. But now it’s fully available on any of Hyundai’s models.
Safety tech ideal for first time car buyers
With a starting price tag of $17,000 and a fully decked out at $27,000, the Elantra is perfect for a teen or first time driver. And with Bluelink and Apple watch integration, it’s great for a parent who wants to keep tabs on the car, too.
The drive experience: Peppy for such a small car
So, what was it like to drive? Well, pretty good. We had no problem merging onto the highway and even speeding up to get over to the right when we almost missed our exit. The car handled well on hills and curves and was fun to drive in manual mode (if that’s your thing). Because of its compact size it was easy to park, make a U-turn or whip around in a 3-point turn, easier than I thought it would be since it seems so large and roomy inside—more like a mid sized car than a compact.
A nicely designed interior that takes a back seat to technology
So I’ve hardly mentioned the interior, which is nice, comfortable and roomy. The back seat was ample and the front seats (the model we drove had leather, which I always prefer) were very comfortable for the 4-hour drive we took. The dash is neatly designed and the touchscreen was easy to see and use. Between the center console, cupholders and cubby under the center dash, there was enough storage to hold our phones, water bottles and keys. The model we drove also had a standard sized sunroof that let in plenty of sunshine. And the trunk was also ample sized; you could easily fit four suitcases in the trunk.
Electric blue captured my heart after all
After spending the day in this electric blue car, which will hit dealer showrooms in all its eight colors this summer, I have to admit, the color was less important to me at the end of the drive than at the start. And it really did stand out in parking lots and on the streets of Imperial Beach. Getting back into the Elantra at the end of the day, with the smart technology that connected me to the world through my phone and kept me safe on the road was a reward all its own.
Disclosure: Travel and accommodations were provided by Hyundai; opinions expressed here are all my own.