THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2007 Hyundai Elantra SE family sedan.
DOWN THE ROAD: Based on a steel unibody structure, the redesigned midsize Elantra is nearly 2 inches wider and taller, and has a 1.6-inch longer wheelbase than its predecessor. Available in three trims, the sedan offers smooth and seamless power delivery down the road while taking you to your destination in safety and comfort.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine puts out an adequate 138 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 136 pounds-feet of torque at 4600 rpm. Mated to a 5-speed manual or an optional 4-speed automatic transmission, the car is guided by speed-sensing rack-and-pinion power steering. An independent front suspension with MacPherson struts and an independent rear multilink suspension ensure that the Elantra displays superior road-handling capabilities. Front and rear stabilizer bars boost the front-wheel-drive sedan's effectiveness in absorbing rough surfaces on the road. Dual overhead camshafts and a Continuously Variable Valve Timing contribute toward eking out impressive gas mileage figures and additional power.
LOOK & FEEL: The Elantra flaunts chrome headlight bezels and grille bar, body-color door handles and mirrors, and an integrated bumper fascia. Step inside and you have 97.9 cubic feet of passenger room and 14.2 cubic feet of trunk space. Storage areas are abundant throughout the cabin. A two-tone cloth trim may grace the seats but the three-spoke steering wheel is wrapped in leather as is the shifter knob. The blue backlight on the instrument panel gauges for speedometer, tachometer, temperature, fuel, trip odometer and clock looks tasteful. The tilt and telescopic steering column, air-conditioning, remote keyless entry with alarm, cruise control, 60/40 split folding rear seat, power heated mirrors and rear center armrest are offered at no extra cost.
SAFETY FIRST: Hyundai should be commended for offering standard dual front and side airbags, curtain side airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes, front-active head restraints and front seatbelt pretensioners, among other safety features.
OUT THE DOOR: $16,695, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, 205/55HR16 alloy wheels; wheelbase, 104.3 inches; length, 177.4 inches; weight, 2,723 pounds; fuel capacity, 14 gallons; highway, 36 mpg; city, 28 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: If affordability and the warranty are at the top of your car-buying list, this is a no-brainer. Base-priced at under $17,000 with 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle, 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain and 7-year/unlimited-mile anti-perforation warranties, the Elantra is a steal.
Nitish S. Rele is an advertising staff writer for The Tampa Tribune.