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2021 Hyundai Elantra

2021 NACTOY Winners : A DriveWays Report…

by Frank A. Aukofer

With two out of three wins, the Ford Motor Co. dominated the awards Monday, Jan. 11, in the annual North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year honors.

The new all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E was judged Utility of the Year, and the Ford F-150 pickup won Truck of the Year. The Car of the Year honor went to the all-new Hyundai Elantra from South Korea, a compact sedan that comes in economy, hybrid and performance models.

However, Hyundai’s luxury brand, Genesis, which had finalists in both Car of the Year with its new G80 sedan and Utility of the Year with its crossover SUV, the GV80, did not score a win — though in 2019 its G70 sedan won Car of the Year.

The awards were announced in a news conference from Detroit by officers of NACTOY, the North American Car of the Year organization.

Dating back to 1994, the awards are determined by votes from a panel of 50 automotive journalists, including this reviewer, from the United States and Canada. They are staff members for publications and web sites, as well as free lances. All told, they contribute to a variety of newspapers, magazines, websites, and television and radio stations. 

 Jurors are dues-paying journalist members of NACTOY, and they are required to drive and evaluate all of the nominated vehicles. The awards, according to NACTOY, are the longest-running new-vehicle accolades not associated with a specific newspaper or other publication, website, radio or television. 

It is not a competition as such because manufacturers do not enter vehicles. The NACTOY leadership determines the initial nominees—43 this year — which are required to be substantially new and potential leaders in their classes. 

They are graded on innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar. NACTOY members this year winnowed the initial nominations down to 27 and then, in a second vote, named nine semifinalists, three in each category. The third vote determines winners. Votes are tallied by Deloittle LLP and kept secret. 

Finalists this year were the winning Hyundai Elantra for Car of the Year, along with the Genesis G80 four-door and the Nissan Sentra compact sedan. The Elantra garnered 176 votes to 173 for the Genesis G80. In third place was the Sentra with 151.

In the Truck of the Year category, besides the winning Ford F-150, were the Ram TRX, an off-road racer with a Hellcat V8 engine of 702 horsepower, and the Jeep Gladiator Mojave, also an off-roader with racing credentials.  The F-150 ran away with the lead with 340 votes to 130 for the Ram TRX and 30 for the Gladiator Mojave.

Besides the Ford Mustang Mach-E, an electric crossover SUV, finalists for Utility of the Year were the resurrected Land Rover Defender, a luxury SUV from the storied British manufacturer that has been producing all-terrain vehicles since World War II. The Mustang EV led with 265 votes to 136 for the GV80 and 99 for the Defender.

Photos © Ford, Hyundai

2021 Hyundai Elantra: A DriveWays Preview…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Historians may one day view the 2021 Hyundai Elantra as America’s first coronavirus car.

It’s possible because of the unusual global introduction of the all-new sedan. The event had been scheduled as a glitzy Hollywood production for a group of automotive journalists from around the country.

The novel coronavirus changed all that. Close to the event on Mar. 17, the South Korean manufacturer was forced to disinvite the entire press corps because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the nation.

Large-40594-2021ElantraBut the show went on anyway, via YouTube from the Lot Studios in West Hollywood and headlined by José Muñoz, Hyundai’s president and CEO, along with other company heavyweights.

The Elantra is Hyundai’s best-seller, though its sales slipped from 200,415 in 2018 to 175,094 in 2019 amid the surging popularity of crossover sport utility vehicles. It dates back to 1990 and has had 3.4 million total sales in the U.S., according to Muñoz.

Large-40585-2021ElantraAll new from the tire patches up, the seventh-generation Hyundai sedan is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, but only by inches or fractions of an inch so interior space has actually increased slightly.

It is 15 feet 4 inches long and 4 feet 8 inches high.

The lower profile gives the Elantra a passing resemblance to cars like the low-slung $73,445 Mercedes-Benz CLS450, a four-door that the German company calls a Coupe. Muñoz said the Elantra was aimed at “young disrupters” or people with a disruptive spirit.

Large-40602-2021ElantraThough marketed as a compact, the Elantra likely will be classified as a midsize by the government based on its total interior volume. Without a sunroof, it has 116 cubic feet of interior volume, divided into 102 cubic feet for passengers and a trunk of 14 cubic feet. With a sunroof, the passenger space drops to 99 cubic feet but it is still comfortably in the midsize category.

The Elantra  comes both as a standard gasoline model or, for the first time, as a gasoline-electric hybrid. Standard on the gasoline SE, SEL and Limited models is a 147-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 132 lb-ft of torque, or twisting force. It is mated to Hyundai’s IVT, a continuously variable automatic transmission that electronically mimics the shifting behavior of a standard automatic.

Large-40584-2021ElantraThe Elantra Hybrid uses a 1.6-liter gasoline engine with a 32-kW electric motor. Together they deliver 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, the Hybrid is projected to deliver a combined city/highway fuel economy rating of more than 50 mpg.

Hyundai’s Smart Sense safety equipment includes forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping and lane-centering assist, automatic headlight high beam switching, driver fatigue detection, safe exit warning of a vehicle approaching from behind, emergency backup braking and a rear-view camera with guidelines.

Large-40580-2021ElantraOptional equipment includes adaptive radar cruise control, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance and blind-spot warning. Other new available features include a navigation system, natural voice control for a multitude of functions, Hyundai’s digital smart-phone key with wireless charging, wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto, and dual Bluetooth connectivity so a phone can be used simultaneously with streaming audio.

At the introduction, there was no word on whether the Elantra would continue to be available as a hatchback or as a high-performance N model. No prices were announced.

Large-40588-2021ElantraPhotos (c) Hyundai

 

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