- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2000

The 2000 Hyundai Elantra has a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty even though it is not a luxury model. Is this the beginning of a warranty war? Twice now, a manufacturer has boasted of the "best" and "longest" warranty. Both vehicles are of foreign origin, this one from Korea.
The 2000 Hyundai Elantra has a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty that covers most of the engine and transaxle components. What is more surprising, this vehicle is not a top-of-the-line luxury model. The total price of this tester is well under $15,000, making me wonder why high-price car manufacturers don't stand behind their products with long-term commitment. Base price is $12,549; the vehicle I drove, having a few options, cost $14,139.
Does a warranty mean the engine is flaw-proof? Not at all. In fact, my tester's "check engine" light started glowing on the instrument panel a few days after I got it and it didn't even have 1,000 miles on it. I never did determine the reason for the malfunction. That's why I'm hesitant to mention the cantankerous transmission shifting, or the jerky ride until the engine heated, and the dubious overall performance. Besides, all this is covered by the 10-year warranty.
During the first few days of my test drive, the engine purred like a kitten. However, it only purred, it didn't roar. Under the hood is a 2-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces a modest 140 horsepower. In other words, this car won't accelerate onto a freeway with gusto. What it will do is produce economical fuel economy: 22 city, 31 highway, which is the Environmental Protection Agency mileage rating equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive.
It's easy to make snide remarks about what the Elantra doesn't have, but for a five-passenger, four-door sedan that is well below the average price of today's automobile, this import offers darn nice transportation. I was particularly impressed with the overall visibility from the driver's seat, and for that reason, I felt very comfortable behind the wheel.
There are a few differences between last year's car (which is when Hyundai gave the Elantra a complete overhaul) and this year's 2000 model. There is an attractive chrome strip down the side of the body; the side-view mirrors match the body color; a tachometer is standard equipment along with power windows; and it has better seats. The rest of the car is just about the same, which means that it has a proven track record.
One track record of the Elantra is that it is Hyundai's best-selling vehicle. There are also an Elantra wagon, an Accent, a Sonata, and a Tiburon all boasting low prices.
A low price doesn't mean that the Elantra is a piece of junk. This is a well-assembled car with the passenger cabin protected by steel reinforcements, side-impact beams and dual air bags. Even the three-point seat belts have the sophisticated pretensioners. The well-reinforced body allowed the engineers to assemble a better suspension for a comfortable riding car.
Other thoughtful features include power windows with one-touch down on the driver's door. Power side-view mirrors and all four doors unlocked by simply turning the key in the driver's door. That feature lacks the safety benefit when opening the car in an unprotected area.
The Elantra is an easy car to enter and exit, and although the seat is mechanically operated, once I got it set for my body size, it was quite comfortable, and a definite improvement over last year's model.
The sound system on my tester had an optional CD unit. While enjoying some music, a question came to mind: will there ever be a 10-year warranty war on radios?

MODEL: Hyundai Elantra
VEHICLE TYPE: Four-door sedan
PRICE-AS-TESTED: $14,139
MILEAGE: 22 city, 31 highway

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