The New 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Named North American Car of The Year

by Tom Crosby

Despite the increasing popularity to find ways to reduce carbon-based emissions via all electric-powered vehicles, this automotive revolution will likely take several years before electric-only vehicles dominate the automotive landscape.

Meantime, the compromise is the hybrid, with the ability to increase miles per gallon by splitting power with the internal combustion engine and the electric battery.

Hyundai has embraced this by offering five hybrids for 2022. Along with its Korean partner, Kia, the two brands pledge carbon neutrality fleets by 2045.

We test-drove top trim 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited, which along with lower trim SEL, was winner of the North American Car of the Year with no major changes for 2022. For 27 years, this prestigious automotive industry award has honored excellence in innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value.

For the third time in five years, Hyundai redesigned its best-selling Elantra, including a hybrid for the first time. All Elantras now boast a longer, wider body with sculpted sides, hood creases, a beveled rear end and unique 17-inch alloy wheel designs Hyundai calls “a disrupter look” for the four-door compact.

The Elantra’s voice recognition has been improved and more standard features added. A lighter but stronger body using Hyundai’s third generation K3 platform helped earn top safety scores in government crash testing. However, the lowered body somewhat hinders entry/egress for larger-sized occupants.

On the road, the front-wheel-drive hybrid uses a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to smoothly and quickly aid acceleration.  An independent rear multi-link suspension contributes to a smooth ride. We averaged about 46 miles per gallon with total range estimated at 540 miles. Standard cutting-edge driver safety aids are ample and work well. 

Our hybrid’s well-designed and spacious cabin – same size as all Elantras – had two-textured plastic and cloth trim, felt-like headliners, BOSE audio, wireless charging pad and 64-mood lighting features, fold-down rear seats, and an eye-catching angled 10.25-inch touchscreen connected to a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, both with large digital display.

Blue Link connects excellent voice recognition and offers several features and functions, like getting sport scores or using a smartphone app to remotely lock/unlock doors, start engine or heat/cool the cabin.

Visors fully extend; there is a compact spare tire and wireless Android Auto and CarPlay are standard.

Elantra’s excellent warranty covers 10-year/100,000-mile for the powertrain coverage and provides three years complimentary maintenance.

The chip shortage may affect MSRP prices upwards.

At a Glance

LIKES: Stylish, spacious cabin/cargo areas, ride, quiet safety aids, infotainment system, range, warranties
DISLIKES: Moving from gas to hybrid costly
BOTTOM LINE: A solid upscale competitor in compact/mid-size sedan market

Fact File: 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited

Base price w/destination fee
Curb weight
EPA Rating
$29,105 ($29,260 as tested)
3,008 lbs.
107.1 inches
184.1 inches
71.9 inches
2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, DOHC (gas)
240V Lithium-ion Polymer Battery (electric)

139-hp combined
195 lbs.-ft. combined
6-speed automatic transmission
49 mpg city/52hwy
11-gallon tank
0-60 in just over 8 seconds











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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.

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