THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2010 Hyundai Elantra Blue sedan.
DOWN THE ROAD: The all-new and entry-level Blue trim offers a decent and composed ride with precise handling and steering feel. The gas sipper keeps an eye out on fuel economy via an eco-indicator in the instrument cluster.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: A 2.0-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine puts out 138 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 136 pounds-feet of torque at 4600 rpm. Standard is a 5-speed manual gearbox, which provides smooth up shifts and quick downshifts. An independent front MacPherson strut with coil springs and a rear multilink system isolates occupants from road noise and bumps. Steering is fast and accurate, thanks to a power rack-and-pinion system. The 10.8-inch front ventilated and 10.3-inch solid rear disc brakes are sized just right for the compact car.
LOOK & FEEL: The waterfall grille and headlight bezels are decked appropriately in chrome. However, the door handles, mirrors and bumpers are painted in body color. The driver can adjust the seat six ways manually while holding on to a robust three-spoke tilt steering wheel. Not only does the 60/40 rear seat fold down to open up space but you also have a sizeable front center console and a bin under the climate controls. And the cabin ambience gives a cool aura, thanks to blue back lights on the instrument panel.
SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes, active front head restraints, front seatbelt pretensioners, front/rear crumple zones, and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.
OUT THE DOOR: $14,145, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P195/65R15; wheelbase, 104.3 inches; length, 177.4 inches; weight, 2,723 pounds; fuel capacity, 14 gallons; city, 26 mpg; highway, 35 mpg; Web site, www.hyundai.com.
WHY DIG IT: Exceptional fuel economy, for one. We averaged 26 mpg in city/highway driving. And at under $14,200, it's a pretty solid value. If you need any more assurance, Hyundai's five-year, 60,000-mile basic, and 10-year, 100,000-mile power train warranties should suffice to seal the deal.