EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Business

November 4, 2012

New Hyundai Elantra GT tries harder

(Continued)

The Elantra GT replaces a four-year-old model called Elantra Touring. The Touring was a Hyundai attempt that didn’t at first succeed, explained Austin Adams, a sales manager at Salem Ford Hyundai in Salem, N.H.

“The Elantra Touring was hot everywhere else on earth, except here because it had a station-wagon look to it. Station wagons aren’t popular in America anymore,” said Adams.

The Touring was introduced late in 2008 as an ‘09 model. It was based on an Elantra rendition first designed for Europe. I liked the car for its practicality and its sensible style. It earned a respectable share of attention from auto raters. The consumer-advice website About.com, and the automobile data center KBB.com named the Touring a top family vehicle in 2010. The publication U.S. News ranked it best car for the money in 2011. Locally, the model sold well at Salem Ford Hyundai, said Adams.

But not so in the rest of the U.S. Too many Americans think station wagons are dowdy, the same as they stigmatize minivans, Adams explained.

The Elantra GT corrects dowdiness with a kinetic, expressive shape and engaging road manners, thanks to an athletically tuned suspension and selectable steering settings that you can set for sporty performance.

For all its vigor and dash, the GT is also the most refined Elantra. The model I test drove last week included about $5,000 worth of add-ons, boosting the sticker price to $25,365. For that sum, the car included larger, dressy alloy wheels, turn lights on the side mirrors, leather upholstery, aluminum pedals, power driver seat, rear-view camera, function-filled navigation, and an expansive, panoramic sunroof that opens the car to the sky. I sensed unmistakably that I was driving a premium auto. I also felt stylish inside the slick small car.

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