The Hyundai Elantra is a popular compact car known for its affordability, fuel economy, and unique exterior designs.
Now in its seventh generation, the Elantra brings with it over three decades of automotive wisdom.
JD Power rates the Elantra highly. In 2021, this vehicle received the 5th best rating among its direct competitors, scoring an 80 out of 100 consumer rating, with a remarkably high driving experience rating of 86 out of 100.
If you would like to know which model years of the Hyundai Elantra to go far (and which to steer clear of), continue reading our guide.
Here’s the short answer to what the Best and Worst Years for the Hyundai Elantra are:
The best Hyundai Elantra model years are from 2019 onwards, 2004-2006, 2015, 2016, and 1998. On the other hand, the worst Hyundai Elantra model years are the 2017, 2010-2012, 2013, and the 2001-2002 model years. Taking note of these model years is important if you are looking to purchase a used Elantra.
What Are The Best Years For The Hyundai Elantra?
Hyundai has produced a lot of great Elantras, listed below are those that deserve a podium finish.
2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 Hyundai Elantra
The 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 Hyundai Elantra models are the kings of the hill because of their bold modern styling, up-to-date technology, sophisticated safety features, and great fuel economy.
If you had to choose the most affordable Elantra among the bunch, then finding a used 2019 Hyundai Elantra would be your best bet. Otherwise, go for the latest 2022 Hyundai Elantra, preferably brand new.
The 2019 Hyundai Elantra received top marks from consumer ratings found on Kelley Blue Book and JD Power with a 4.2 out of 5.0 and 83 out of 100, respectively. However, it was the 2022 Hyundai Elantra that dominated reviews and consumer ratings on Edmunds with a rating of 4.8 out of 5.0
Based on information available on CarComplaints.com, all these model years combined accounted for a total of 40 problems or issues, which is remarkably low.
One Elantra owner had this to say on Kelley Blue Book:
“Very comfortable and reliable Car. Easy to handle and good Pick up on sport mode! I have recommended this company to family and friends who are also happy!”
Over at Edmunds, this car owner had nothing but good things to say:
“If you are looking for some additional features, good gas mileage and good warranty you should go for this car without any second thought.”
2004, 2005, and 2006 Hyundai Elantra
It may feel vintage, but we strongly recommend getting the 2004, 2005, or the 2006 Hyundai Elantra for a lot of reasons.
The 2004, 2005, and 2006 model years are known for ease of driving, stellar fuel economy, great performance on both automatic and manual transmissions, and good interior space.
Although the trim levels were limited compared to today’s offerings, you could still acquire a great model at an affordable price without losing out on many of the great features.
The 2004 and 2005 Hyundai Elantra have amazing reviews at Edmunds and also secured the 2nd and 3rd best consumer ratings – 4.7 out of 5.0 and 4.6 out of 5.0, respectively. On top of this, all three model years secured the best consumer rating (4.4 out of 5.0) on Kelley Blue Book, which says a lot about the greatness of this batch of model years.
One Elantra owner had no regrets about his purchase on Kelley Blue Book:
“I bought this new and have never regretted my decision. I have never had a major problem and have maintenance done on regular schedule. Love the visibility this car gives me while driving.”
Over at Edmunds, this car owner shared his journey with his 2004 Elantra:
“…The biggest repair I’ve ever had to do on this car is replace the battery. Other than that, every day this car has started right up and performed great…”
2015 and 2016 Hyundai Elantra
The two model years that started the sixth generation of the Elantra franchise did not disappoint. With their compact looks, smooth handling and riding experience, and great blend between fuel economy and engine performance, the 2015 and 2016 Hyundai Elantra models were among the best of their generation.
If you are having a difficult time justifying purchasing the later models of the Hyundai Elantra but would not want to go down too much in terms of vehicle age, then the 2015 and 2016 Elantra models are a great in-between.
The 2015 and 2016 Elantra models did not secure the best scores on vehicle review sites compared to their peers in this section, but they both did great, with identical scores of 4.2 out of 5.0 and 81 out of 100 on Kelley Blue Book and JD Power, respectively.
One Elantra owner shared a fair and objective assessment of his car on Kelley Blue Book:
“I am the 1st owner and have had my Elantra for 6 years now. No major problem but minor defects pop out now and then…”
Over at Edmunds, this Elantra owner talks about his experiences with his 2015 Elantra:
“I purchased in May of 2015 and have since taken it to 2 road trips and accumulated 6k miles on it. I can honestly say its a solid purchase. Comfortable, full of features, handles well (not sporty) looks amazing…”
1998 Hyundai Elantra
With a totally different look but still a family-friendly and practical vibe, the 1998 Hyundai Elantra may not look like its successors, but it definitely packs a punch as a reliable and efficient vehicle.
Although we do not generally recommend buying vehicles with over two decades of existence in the used car market, an argument could be made for getting this vehicle at the right price.
The 1998 Elantra scored a 3.8 out of 5.0 on Edmunds and a 4.2 out of 5.0 on Kelley Blue Book. Both ratings are above average.
One Elantra owner shared his repair experience on Kelley Blue Book:
“this is an old car. Mine is a ’98 that I bought about 5 years ago. I’ve had to do brakes and replace the alternator. That’s it. It runs really well…”
Over at Edmunds, this car owner talked about how much his wife loved the 1998 Elantra:
“I bought this car new in 1998 and my wife loves it. She would rather keep it than give it up…”
Consumer Scores For Best Hyundai Elantra Years
Below is a table that presents all the consumer ratings of the best Hyundai Elantra model years from reputable vehicle websites:
|Model Year||Edmunds’ Consumer Rating||Kelley Blue Book’s Consumer Rating||JD Power’s Consumer Rating|
|2022 Hyundai Elantra||4.8 / 5.0||4.1 / 5.0||80 / 100|
|2021 Hyundai Elantra||4.4 / 5.0||4.1 / 5.0||80 / 100|
|2020 Hyundai Elantra||4.1 / 5.0||4.2 / 5.0||81 / 100|
|2019 Hyundai Elantra||4.3 / 5.0||4.2 / 5.0||83 / 100|
|2016 Hyundai Elantra||4.1 / 5.0||4.2 / 5.0||81 / 100|
|2015 Hyundai Elantra||3.4 / 5.0||4.2 / 5.0||81 / 100|
|2006 Hyundai Elantra||4.3 / 5.0||4.4 / 5.0||NA|
|2005 Hyundai Elantra||4.6 / 5.0||4.4 / 5.0||NA|
|2004 Hyundai Elantra||4.7 / 5.0||4.4 / 5.0||NA|
|1998 Hyundai Elantra||3.8 / 5.0||4.2 / 5.0||NA|
What Are The Worst Years For The Hyundai Elantra?
The Hyundai Elantra has also been subject to criticism due to its fair share of problems or issues. The models listed below are the versions of the vehicle that you have to avoid.
2017 Hyundai Elantra
The 2017 Hyundai Elantra was supposedly introduced to build on the great success of the 2015 and 2016 model years. However, a lot of mechanical problems, along with paint-related issues, immediately halted the momentum of the model.
In several cases, the Elantra’s body paint started to peel off at an average mileage of 46,000 miles, which is relatively young for any vehicle. The average cost to fix this issue is pegged at $1,500.
The 2017 Elantra had a total of 81 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 618 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.
The main problems of the 2017 Hyundai Elantra are the following:
- Paint peeling
- Engine failure
- Lost power while driving
2010, 2011, and 2012 Hyundai Elantra
The Elantra was known for its practicality, affordability, reliability, and fuel economy. The 2010, 2011, and 2012 Hyundai Elantras proved otherwise (but were fortunately treated as an exception rather than the general rule for this esteemed model).
One of the larger concerns was fuel economy. The MPG of these model years was well below the rated fuel economy for both city and highway driving.
The bigger, more dangerous concern, however was engine ticking, which is indicative of low oil, poor circulation, or worn-out components – this ultimately led to engine failure. Repairs for issues of this category have an average cost to fix of $4,700.
The 2012 Elantra had 162 complaints at CarComplaints.com, followed by 108 complaints and 109 complaints of the 2010 and 2011 model years, respectively. Over at CarProblemZoo.com, the 2012 Elantra had 784 complaints at CarComplaints.com, followed by 496 complaints and 528 complaints of the 2010 and 2011 model years, respectively.
The main problems of the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Hyundai Elantra models are the following:
- Transmission slipping
- Rattles at start-up
- Engine ticking
2013 Hyundai Elantra
It cannot be disputed that the 2013 Hyundai Elantra was the worst Elantra ever offered. There were countless reports and complaints about the model year’s engine, and several more complaints pertaining to the model’s wheels and brakes. The vehicle was ultimately a safety risk for a lot of owners.
The 2013 Elantra had a total of 542 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 1,383 problems at CarProblemZoo.com, the greatest amounts for any Hyundai Elantra model that ever existed.
The main problems of the 2013 Hyundai Elantra are the following:
- MPG not close to estimates
- Engine ticking
- Engine failure
2001 and 2002 Hyundai Elantra
Although these two model years are technically not as bad as the previous entries, the issues presented by these two are significant enough to warrant a spot on the list of worst model years. These models were prone to overheating, excessive rust, transmission problems, and various engine issues that led to failure while driving.
The 2001 Elantra had a total of 18 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 440 problems at CarProblemZoo.com while the 2002 Elantra had a total of 15 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 419 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.
The main problems of the 2001 and 2002 Hyundai Elantra models are the following:
- Transmission slipping
- Excessive rust
What Years Have The Most Complaints?
There are several Hyundai Elantra models that have received quite a number of complaints through the years. Listed below are complaints and problems listed for each model year:
|Model Year||Complaints (CarComplaints.com)||Problems (CarProblemZoo.com)|
|2022 Hyundai Elantra||1||34|
|2021 Hyundai Elantra||7||54|
|2020 Hyundai Elantra||19||132|
|2019 Hyundai Elantra||12||108|
|2018 Hyundai Elantra||25||176|
|2017 Hyundai Elantra||81||618|
|2016 Hyundai Elantra||45||219|
|2015 Hyundai Elantra||74||182|
|2014 Hyundai Elantra||89||338|
|2013 Hyundai Elantra||542||1,383|
|2012 Hyundai Elantra||162||784|
|2011 Hyundai Elantra||109||528|
|2010 Hyundai Elantra||108||496|
|2009 Hyundai Elantra||42||317|
|2008 Hyundai Elantra||27||385|
|2007 Hyundai Elantra||17||342|
|2006 Hyundai Elantra||40||204|
|2005 Hyundai Elantra||12||165|
|2004 Hyundai Elantra||14||204|
|2003 Hyundai Elantra||11||295|
|2002 Hyundai Elantra||15||419|
|2001 Hyundai Elantra||18||440|
|2000 Hyundai Elantra||11||256|
|1999 Hyundai Elantra||5||182|
|1998 Hyundai Elantra||3||75|
|1997 Hyundai Elantra||4||196|
|1996 Hyundai Elantra||3||138|
What Problems Do Hyundai Elantras Have?
Based on the information we have gathered online, here are the most prevalent issues that you may encounter with a Hyundai Elantra:
- Airbag-related problems
- Engine and engine cooling problems
- Steering problems
- Faulty service brakes
What Are The Best Alternatives To The Hyundai Elantra?
There are a lot of great options in the compact car segment to which the Hyundai Elantra belongs. Take a look at some of the interesting models to check out if you want to explore other options:
|Make & Model||Score||MSRP||Fuel Economy|
|Hyundai Elantra||8.0||$20,500 – $27,050||City: 28-33 / Highway: 36-42|
|Honda Civic||8.6||$22,550 – $30,050||City: 26-33 / Highway: 36-42|
|Mazda3||8.6||$21,150 – $34,750||City: 23-28 / Highway: 31-36|
|Kia Forte||8.5||$19,090 – $24,490||City: 22-31 /Highway: 31-41|
|Toyota Corolla||8.0||$20,425 – $28,710||City: 28-32 /Highway: 36-41|
|Subaru Impreza||7.8||$18,795 – $26,395||City: 22-28 / Highway: 30-36|
|Volkswagen Jetta||7.8||$20,365 – $32,095||City: 26-31 / Highway: 36-43|
|Nissan Sentra||7.5||$19,610 – $22,200||City: 28-29 / Highway: 37-39|
|Hyundai Veloster N||NA||$32,500 – $34,000||City: 20-22 / Highway: 27-28|
|Subaru WRX||NA||$29,105 – $41,895||City: NA /Highway: NA|
|Volkswagen GTI||NA||$29,880 – $39,130||City: NA /Highway: NA|