The 2021 Hyundai Elantra now offers a hybrid variant for the first time, giving the Korean automaker another gas-electric offering to bolster its lineup of efficient compact cars. The Elantra Hybrid will go toe to toe with alternatives like the Honda Insight and Toyota Corolla hybrids, offering a manufacturer-estimated combined fuel economy rating of "more than 50 miles per gallon." For comparison, both the Insight and the Corolla hybrid peg 52 mpg combined, per the EPA.
Powering the 2021 Hyundai Elantra hybrid is a 1.6-liter inline-four-cylinder engine mated to a 43-horsepower (32-kilowatt) electric motor, offering a combined system output of 139 hp (104 kW). More tellingly, the Elantra Hybrid boasts a grunty 195 lb-ft (264 newton-meters) of torque, which should be more than enough to give the compact sedan decent responses. Power goes to the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, and electricity comes from a 1.3-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery mounted under the rear seat.
Relative to its most natural competitors in the hybrids-that-don't-look-like-hybrids segment, the Elantra finds itself in mixed company. The Honda Insight – which also happens to be quite the looker – promises more ponies in the corral at 152 (113 kW), and it pips the Elantra by 2 lb-ft for a total of 197 (267 Nm). The Corolla Hybrid fares a bit worse than the Elantra; Toyota doesn't publish total torque figures, but the small sedan only produces 121 hp (90 kW) between the gas engine and the electric motor.
Working in the Elantra's favor, both the Insight and Corolla get continuously variable transmissions. Although the ones in the Honda and Toyota tend to be among the best of the breed, CVTs usually fare worse in terms of fun to drive than more traditional gearboxes. If the dual-clutch transmission in the Elantra hybrid is anything like that of the mechanically similar Ioniq, it should offer reasonable responses and a pleasant amount of driver involvement.
Overall, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra hybrid should be a good option for people who want their efficiency packaged more conventionally. For their part, Toyota and Honda have experienced reasonable sales success from their normal-looking hybrid offerings, and it's fair that Hyundai would want a bite at that apple as well. Joining an electrified lineup that also includes the Sonata Hybrid, Kona EV, and three versions of the Ioniq (hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and EV) – as well as the limited-availability Nexo fuel-cell vehicle – the Hyundai Elantra hybrid looks to be in good company.