Year after year, the Hyundai Elantra has proven itself a capable, quality compact car series. But as Hyundai continues to remake itself into a premium brand, the Elantra must play a bigger role. Now it’s hoped this new, five-door Elantra Touring will invoke images of European sport wagons, while also providing an alternative to crossovers that appeal to budget-conscious families. That’s a tall order for any single car— so let’s see if it delivers!

While a fresh edition for the 2009 model year, the Hyundai Elantra Touring has already been tweaked for 2010 with a new trim level, lower base price, and available roof rails for added versatility. Compared to the Elantra sedan, the Touring’s 5-door body style has two added inches of wheelbase at 106.3, yet is about an inch shorter overall than the sedan at 176.2 inches.

Like the sedan, the Touring has premium look and stylish cues. But the Touring goes even further with a front-end that is trimmer and more athletic, and even more handsome and refined. It easily delivers an upscale small car impression.

In profile, you know it’s a station wagon. But rising character lines, a sweeping body side crease, and fast d-pillar reminds us more of the fun-to-drive Audi A4 Avant and Cadillac CTS SportWagon. Ditto the tail, where a nicely-sculpted hatch is flanked by tall, fin-like taillights. Wheel choices are either 15-inch steel or our SE trim’s 17-inch alloys.

The interior theme of the Elantra Touring is also different from the sedan, but not by as much.  Both offer straightforward gauges and a smart control layout, but the Touring’s cabin seems laden with hard plastics that are cheap to the touch.  Also, like the sedan, there’s plenty of passenger room.

The new base GLS trim has an impressive list of standard features for its class, including air-conditioning, heated mirrors, a four-way adjustable driver’s seat, and a cooled glove box. Safety comes from six standard airbags.

And for listening enjoyment, there’s a six-speaker 172-watt audio system with an iPod interface. Oddly, only a tilt steering wheel is standard. Telescoping requires up-level SE trim which also adds a leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, seat heat, a trip computer, and a sunroof.

The rear seat of the Elantra Touring has more head and legroom than the sedan.  And the seats fold 60/40 for greater cargo versatility. The Elantra Touring has 24.3 cubic feet behind the 2nd row. But with seats folded, capacity goes to an eye-popping 65.3 cubic feet.  That’s on par with some compact utilities.

Power is by the same 2.0-liter inline-4 that moves the Elantra sedan.  It rates a typical 138 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque.Front drive power is managed by either a five-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic.

Government Fuel Economy ratings for our manual tester are 23 city/31 highway on regular gas.  We nearly hit the highway number with 30.8 miles per gallon in real-world driving. The Energy Impact Score for the Elantra Touring is a modest 13.2 barrels of oil consumed per year.  Its Carbon Footprint is a tidy 7.1 annual tons of CO2 emitted.

But at the track, this frugal powertrain huffed from 0 to 60 in 8.8 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 16.8 seconds at 85 miles per hour.  There was very little “sport” in our labored runs. The best part is the manual gear change that is direct and precise, with a firm clutch pedal and positive engagement.

Things were much better through the cones. Elantra Touring shares its front MacPherson, rear multi-link suspension with the sedan.  However, the Touring has stiffer springs, larger stabilizer bars, and an enhanced steering system that betters the sedan’s already commendable performance.

Our Touring felt well-balanced and light on its feet, but there was a lot of tire squeal.  Still, with quick, well-weighted steering, it does have a distinctively sporty feel. During high-speed lane changes, the standard stability and traction control went active, but it was never overly intrusive. Brakes are four-wheel discs with ABS and delivered near fade-free stops of a short 125 foot average from 60 to zero. The car felt planted and reassuring. 

Thanks to the new entry-level GLS trim, base price for the Elantra Touring has been reduced by about $1800, starting at a very affordable $16,715.  The up-level SE model begins at a competitive $19,715.  To boot, Hyundai has one of the best warranties in the business.

Hyundai is just the latest to try and convince American consumers that the station wagon is not obsolete. Like others, they think an efficient wagon design, bolstered with sporty prowess, just might be the compromise some family buyers are looking for. And since most wagons cost much more, we think the Hyundai Elantra Touring will indeed strike a successful chord, once more boosting the Hyundai brand above its peers.


  • Engine: 2.0-Liter Inline-4
  • Horsepower: 138
  • Torque: 136 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 8.8 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 16.8 Seconds @ 85 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 125 Feet
  • EPA: 23 MPG City/ 31 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 30.8 MPG
  • Energy Impact: 13.2 Barrels Oil/Yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 7.1 Tons/Yr