First Look: 2021 Elantra and Elantra Hybrid

AutoInformed.com on Hyundai 2021 Elantra

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Hyundai officially launched its all-new 2021 Elantra and Elantra Hybrid at The Lot Studios in West Hollywood last week just before the mandated California shelter in place lock-down in an event  broadcast around the world. About half the Elantras sold in the U.S. are built in a COVID-19 hot spot – South Korea.

The 2021 Elantra has hybrid electric vehicle technology, and segment-first wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Production of the 2021 Elantra starts in the fall in Ulsan, Korea as the Avante, and at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, and sales begin in the fourth quarter.

“While some manufacturers no longer see the value in the car side of the business, we’re doubling down by offering an all-new model with both gas and hybrid powertrains,” said Brian Smith, chief operating officer, Hyundai Motor America. “We’ve sold more than 3.4 million Elantras here in the U.S. and more than 13.8 million worldwide.”

AutInformed.com on 2021 Hyundai Elantra

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The 2021 Elantra has the clichéd  “four-door-coupe look,” via  longer, lower, and wider dimensions compared to the sixth-generation model. The 2021 Elantra gains 2.2 inches in overall length and 0.8 inch in its wheelbase, and the overall width is increased one inch. The overall height also dropped 0.8 inch, and the front cowl point was moved back almost two inches. At 40.6 inches of front headroom and 37.3 inches of rear headroom, the 2021 Elantra has more front headroom and the same amount of rear headroom as the old one.

Electronic driver assist systems abound with standard advanced safety technologies:

  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with Pedestrian Detection uses the car’s front-facing camera to help detect an imminent collision with a vehicle or pedestrian and avoid impact or minimize damage by braking automatically
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) helps prevent accidental lane departure by sensing road markings, automatically steering the car if necessary
  • Lane Following Assist (LFA) may automatically adjust steering to help keep the vehicle centered in its lane of travel. LFA can help keep the vehicle centered on both highways and city streets.
  • High Beam Assist (HBA) eliminates the need for drivers to manually switch high beams on and off at night
  • Driver Attention Warning (DAW) system that monitors a spectrum of driver-related characteristics to help detect driver fatigue
  • Rearview camera with dynamic guidelines

Optional SmartSense

  • Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA) with Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA) helps detect a vehicle in the drivers’ blind spot while the turn signal is on.
  • Smart Cruise Control (SCC) makes highway and long-distance driving more comfortable. Using a radar sensor mounted on the lower front grille, the SCC system maintains a set distance from the vehicle ahead in varied traffic conditions by automatically adjusting vehicle speed as needed.
  • Highway Driving Assist (HDA) is a driving convenience system that assists drivers in maintaining the center of the lane and at an appropriate speed while keeping a safe distance from the car in front.
  • Safe Exit Warning (SEW) may sound an alert when a vehicle approaches from behind, letting passengers know it may not be safe to open the door to exit the vehicle.
  • Reverse Parking Collision Avoidance Assist (PCA) helps detect pedestrians and obstacles with a rearview camera and ultrasonic sensors. The system can provide warnings and apply emergency braking to assist in the avoidance of a collision.

Voice Recognition System

Elantra has an enhanced natural language voice recognition system with more and what’s claimed to be “better feature control.” This natural-language voice recognition system includes so-called Speech-to-Meaning and Deep Meaning Understanding technologies, delivering speed and accuracy in voice recognition and responses, and an ability to understand context, such as the user’s location to support natural interactions.

Using a natural voice, one can control the:

  • Climate on/off
  • Air conditioner on/off
  • Heat on/off
  • Fan high/low
  • Defrost on
  • Set fan to face, feet, or face and feet
  • Defrost on and set fan to feet
  • Warm up/cool down
  • Air intake system on
  • Turn on/off heated seats (driver/passenger)
  • Set heated seat levels 1, 2, or 3 (driver/passenger)
  • Rear window defroster on/off
  • Turn on/off the heated steering wheel

To activate controls, the driver uses the “push to talk button” on the steering wheel and says the requested command. Conversations will be, “Air conditioner on,” “Set fan to face,” or “Turn on my heated seat.” There are also more requests the system can handle. A user can say via Blue Link, “What is the temperature in St. Louis?” et cetera.

Elantra Hybrid

For the first time, a hybrid powertrain has been added to the Elantra lineup with a 1.6-liter GDI Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine. Elantra Hybrid’s permanent-magnet electric motor is rated at 32 kW powered by a lithium-ion-polymer battery with 1.32 kWh of capacity positioned under the rear seats. The 1.6-liter GDI engine combined with the electric motor in Elantra Hybrid delivers a total system output of 139 horsepower and up to 195 lb.-ft. of torque.

This engine comes with a six-speed, dual-clutch transmission. The high-efficiency electric motor has an electric only driving mode that delivers immediate torque at low speeds, with optional power-assist at higher vehicle speeds. The 2021 Elantra Hybrid is projected to have a combined EPA estimated fuel economy rating of more than 50 MPG.

The Elantra SE, SEL, and Limited have as an option the  2.0-L MPI Atkinson Cycle engine that also has a focus on fuel economy. This engine I rated at147 horsepower @ 6,200 RPM and 132 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,500 RPM. These models are projected to achieve a best-in-class EPA combined fuel economy rating, an improvement over previous models, due in part to an Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT).

 Variable Transmission Mated to a 2-liter Engine

Hyundai’s IVT simulates gear shifts like those in the automatic transmissions that customers are used to. This transmission performs continuous shifts by the modulating pressure of the transmission’s pulley, depending on driving conditions and driver inputs. It uses a wide-ratio pulley system, which provides a broader ratio of operation compared with its competitors. This allows for improved fuel economy at higher gear ratios and improved performance at lower ratios.

As opposed to a more common push belt, the IVT takes advantage of a chain-design belt that improves fuel efficiency by an additional 1.2% compared with conventional belt systems.

Hyundai’s new Shift Control Strategy used by the IVT improves linearity between driver inputs, vehicle behavior and acceleration. Shift response is claimed to closely replicate automatic transmission step shifts.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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