The Hyundai Elantra was first released as an economical and affordable car. Unfortunately, the budget for this vehicle seemed to be at the very bottom of the barrel, as was evidenced by the shoddy construction of the first generation. In a span of five generations, the Elantra seems to have climbed out of the hole it had dug for itself. Today, the Elantra offers class, reliability, and style for a very affordable price.
1990: First generation
The first Elantra was launched in 1990 and was offered as a Sedan. It sported a Mitsubishi made 1.6 Liter straight-4 engine which was soon upgraded to a 1.8 Liter engine and came with a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission. In 1994, the Elantra was upgraded with ABS brake, airbags, power mirrors and fog lamps. The first Elantra was panned for its awful performance, underpowered engine and terrible handling. Hyundai's plan for an affordable car unfortunately translated to a very cheap excuse for a car.
1996: Second generation
The next Elantra offered by Hyundai was somewhat an improvement over its embarrassing predecessor though it still remained a car avoided by many. The car was offered as a sedan and a station wagon and engine choices included a 1.5 and 1.8 liter inline-four gasoline engine and a 1.5 liter lean-burn gasoline engine. In 1999, a larger and more powerful 2.0 liter gasoline engine was offered and the car was additionally equipped with airbags.
2000: Third generation
The third iteration of the Elantra offered considerable improvements in build and style over the past two generations. The car was equipped with a 2 liter inline-four gasoline engine and included a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. All Elantras came with power locks, power windows, power steering, airbags, and air-conditioning. In 2003, new headlights and tail lights were added, along with new grilles and bumpers.
2004: Fourth generation
The fourth generation Elantra was another improvement over the old versions. Engines available for the vehicle were a 2.0 liter gasoline inline-four gasoline engine and a 1.6 liter turbodiesel inline-four engine. The car came either with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The car's performance was considered to be satisfyingly good and its interior was described as extremely comfortable and roomy. Aside from the base GLS trim, Hyundai offered the luxurious SE trim which included electronic stability control and a telescopic steering wheel along with leather seats and a sunroof. Ipod and USB interfaces were installed in 2009.
2010: Fifth and current generation
The current Elantra comes with a 1.8 liter inline-4 engine along with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. These new engines further increased the fuel economy of the engine while improvements to the car's design and construction have significantly improved performance and driving comfort. The latest Elantra comes in two trims, the GLS and the limited. The GLS trim is equipped with cruise control, an improved audio system with USB interface, air-conditioning, bluetooth and cruise control. The GLS also comes with 15-inch wheels. The limited offered far more extravagant additions like a sun roof, heated leather seats, keyless entry and rearview cameras. The limited was also equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels.