The practical and affordable Hyundai Elantra received a bold new look in 2021 and also got a hybrid powertrain for the very first time.
The hybrid model boasts class leading fuel economy and comes very close to matching the Toyota Prius.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the common issues and complaints owners have had with their Elantra Hybrids.
Table of Contents
1. Throttle Lag or Hesitation
There have been many reports of the Elantra Hybrid’s tendency to stall or hesitate when trying to accelerate from low speeds.
Many owners have complained that the car will sometimes refuse to move forward for a second or two after stepping on the accelerator even if they can hear the engine revving.
This problem typically only occurs when trying to accelerate from a rolling stop or when creeping at approximately 1 to 3 mph.
Here’s how some owners described their experience:
“I currently drive a 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Blue. I will push my foot down on the accelerator, but the car will not move forward. My vehicle is recognizing the throttle input as the rev limiter is almost completely maxed out.”
“Vehicle started stalling at the intersection or stop sign when I tried to make a left turn after full stop.”
“It’s hesitating really bad when entering EV mode after letting go of the gas. It just kinda stalls for 5-7 seconds and then suddenly finally the engine kicks in after forcing it out of EV mode and begins to slowly accelerate in a quick jerk.”
Older Hyundai hybrids like the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid have had similar hesitation issues, called the death lag, when trying to accelerate from low speeds. Software updates haven’t made much of a difference for these older Hyundai hybrids. It also happens to Kia hybrids, so it’s likely just down to how Hyundai/Kia hybrid systems work.
2. Surging When Braking
Aside from the delayed acceleration, some Elantra Hybrid owners have also reported that the car will sometimes momentarily surge forward even if your foot is already off the accelerator.
This can happen either while you’re stepping on the brakes or even if you just let off the gas pedal and let the car slow down on its own.
Here’s how a few owners described the issue:
“I’ve noticed that whenever I’m braking at lower speeds, the car will jerk forward moderately. It tends to be most noticeable when it hits 20 mph during deceleration.”
“As I was slowing down for a roundabout it jerked forward as it was down shifting and I was braking.”
“Had to slow down and accelerate slowly. Resulted in the transmission “thunking” and hard shifting. As it was down shifting, it would SPEED UP with foot off of gas seemingly lurching harder with each down shift. Had to brake hard to prevent from colliding with truck in front.”
“The car definitely enters a”failure mode”: accelerating on its own without input, failing to accelerate despite revving engine, hard gear changes.”
“When I hit the brakes it felt like the braking system was fighting with the acceleration until the computer finally stopped accelerating.”
The surging and hard shifting is likely caused by the Elantra Hybrid’s 6-speed DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission), which is basically an automated manual transmission. DCTs from other car brands, especially early ones, have also exhibited similar behaviors.
However, not all Elantra Hybrids seem to suffer from these issues. It might happen so rarely that most owners barely notice it or there are just some cars that have problematic transmissions.
Hyundai did release a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) in November 2022 which recommended updating the transmission software to fix an issue with the Elantra Hybrid’s DCT clutch actuator, which might resolve the hesitation and shifting issues that have been reported.
The TSB is intended for Elantra Hybrids made from December 2020 to November 2021, so it only applies to the 2021 to 2022 model years.
3. Lower MPG Than Expected
Several Elantra Hybrid owners have complained that they don’t get anywhere near the advertised fuel economy of 54 mpg combined.
Owners have also noticed that the fuel economy displayed on the dash is not accurate and overestimates the actual gas mileage when compared to manually calculating how many miles you get on a tank of gas.
Here’s how a few owners described their experience:
“I’m at 6k miles now and still have issues with my mileage, the worst we had so far was 29 mpg.”
“Just bought a 2023 Elantra hybrid last month. I got 605 miles on it so far and only averaging 33.2 mpg.”
“I only have 200 miles on the car so far, but I have noticed the gauge display average reading fluctuates between 46 to 48 mpg. When I turn off the car my Drive Info screen pops up and always shows a number above 50 mpg.”
“I’ve got a new Elantra Hybrid too and I’m averaging about 40 mpg so far.”
Like all cars, the Elantra Hybrid will have slightly worse mileage during its break-in period. Fuel economy should improve after the first 1,000 miles and as you get more used to driving a hybrid.
Other factors that negatively affect fuel economy include:
- Driving habits
- Sport mode
- Running the AC and heater
- Cold temperatures
- Driving over 65 mph
During the winter, fuel economy also drops because the battery’s chemical reactions are much slower, making it less efficient. Other hybrids and EVs also face the same issue.
The heater also runs off the gas engine so it will be running most of the time. Turning up the AC also has a similar effect on gas mileage.
In optimal conditions and with good driving habits, most Elantra Hybrid owners have no trouble seeing over 50 mpg and even up to 60 mpg on the dash.
4. Configuration Keeps Resetting to Default
A number of Elantra Hybrid owners have noticed that the car will sometimes lose their saved settings if it’s not used for several days.
Some of the things that get reset include:
- Instrument cluster configurations
- Fuel economy data
- Climate control settings
Here’s how a few owners described their experience:
“I also have it occasionally happen on my 2022. It’s not due to sitting. I can go to work with everything normal, but when I go home, it has reset a few things. Sometimes it will happen twice in a week. So far, it has been several months.”
“The car seems to reset to default AC settings, MPG tracking, etc. This is the third time it’s done it.”
“This happens so randomly that it makes no sense to me at all. Once I didn’t drive it for three days, I got in and the configuration was there. Another time I drove it the last afternoon, got into the car in the morning and the configuration was gone.”
“It loses the central dash setting, the current tank MPG, and the HVAC settings. I use the digital speedometer and have had to reset it 20 – 30 times already.”
Despite dealers not being particularly helpful when asked about this issue, some owners suspect that it could be caused by the 12-volt battery not having enough charge.
12-volt batteries can easily lose their charge if:
- You only drive for short distances
- Don’t use the car for several days
- It’s parked outside in the cold
USB devices such as dash cams and flash drives plugged into the USB ports can also drain the battery overnight. Unplugging any third party devices and/or increasing the cutoff voltage on your dash cam might help resolve the issue.
Keeping the key fob far away from the car when it’s parked also ensures that it doesn’t routinely wake up on its own and inadvertently drain the battery.
It’s worth mentioning that the Elantra Hybrid doesn’t actually have a 12-volt battery. It instead uses part of the hybrid battery for the 12-volt system. Pressing the 12-volt battery reset button on the dash will force the hybrid battery to recharge the 12-volt system and get you on your way.
5. Moisture in Headlights
A number of seventh gen Elantra owners have complained about moisture or condensation accumulating inside their headlights.
Too much moisture can affect your visibility at night. It can also cause a short circuit and damage the lights and the car’s electronics.
This issue affects all model years of the current generation Elantra and it’s not just limited to the hybrid variant.
Here’s how a few owners described the problem:
“I have a 23 HEV Limited, and I’m having this issue just on the driver’s side headlight.”
“This has been particularly happening when the temps drop below freezing point. It’s on the inside & both the headlights have this.”
The latest TSB that Hyundai has for this issue recommends turning on the headlights for some time so that the excess moisture can evaporate faster. If it keeps occurring, the dealership should be able to replace it under warranty.
6. Infotainment Issues
Some Elantra Hybrid owners have experienced a range of different issues with the car’s infotainment system.
Some of the more common ones include:
- CarPlay won’t connect or disconnects randomly
- Screen won’t turn on
- Infotainment system becomes laggy or freezes
- Backup camera display doesn’t work
Here’s how a few owners described their issues:
“My 2021 Elantra doesn’t connect sometimes and it’s so annoying.”
“My 2023 just started having an issue with the infotainment console out of nowhere it won’t play the radio or CarPlay or respond to any features other than the menu system.”
“We bought our 2023 Elantra in the middle of June and have had many issues with the entertainment system. Sometimes it doesn’t cut on, leaving a black screen. There were two times that it was static looking before cutting on. The reverse camera has been static looking for a time or two. Other times Apple Carplay doesn’t work.”
“Google and Apple Maps are very laggy on my 2023 Elantra unfortunately, I’ve noticed Waze usually works much better.”
A lot of owners who have constant CarPlay and Android Auto connection issues in the current gen Elantra report that resetting the entire infotainment system is the easiest way to get it to pair up properly and connect again.
This can be done by inserting a pin or fine tip pen inside the hole of the reset button near the edge of the screen. Pressing it once simply restarts the infotainment. If you hold it down for 5 seconds, it will completely reset the system and you’ll lose any settings you’ve saved.
Resetting the infotainment system should also get rid of glitches and fix any lag that you might have encountered previously. You can also check with your dealer if they have any software updates for the infotainment system that fixes any old bugs.
If your screen keeps restarting on its own or if you have issues with the backup camera, take it back to the dealer so they can check for any hardware defects or wiring issues.
7. Overly Sensitive Automatic Headlights
The extremely sensitive automatic headlights are a common complaint among current gen Elantra owners.
The automatic headlights are designed to turn on automatically whenever the sensors detect that you’re driving in the dark. Aside from turning on at night, they can be triggered when you drive through a tunnel or under a bridge.
Here’s how a few owners described it:
“I just got a 2021 Elantra Hybrid and I thought I was going crazy, as I had the light as OFF and was still turning on.”
“The automatic headlights are way too sensitive and just a shadow from a tree will make them turn on. The problem is even when I turn the headlights to off, they are still in auto.”
“I wouldn’t mind the lights coming on if it didn’t make all the inner displays go dim. I can barely see my A/C controls in the daytime when the lights decide to come on at the slightest shadow.”
“The headlight sensor is too sensitive and constantly flipping the headlights on and off, which dims the dash lights.”
Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done about the sensitivity of the automatic headlight sensors.
If the gauge cluster and climate controls get too dim whenever the automatic headlights get triggered, you can adjust the instrument cluster lights to its maximum setting so that the dimming feature doesn’t make too much of a difference.
8. Bluelink Issues
Some Elantra Hybrid owners have had constant issues when it comes to communicating with the car using the Bluelink app.
Some of the common complaints with Hyundai’s Bluelink app include:
- Takes a minute or more to unlock the doors
- Can’t communicate with the car
- Some features don’t work at all
- Sending a command just returns an error
Here’s how a few owners described their experience:
“I try to unlock my doors, it takes about 2 minutes to unlock or, more often than not, pop up a “failed to unlock” message due to poor coverage.”
“We just got a new Elantra hybrid over the weekend and at first the remote start and other commands worked fine. Now, whenever I try to send any command I get an unsuccessful message, and I also can’t seem to remotely get vehicle status.”
“Some functionality on the Bluelink app does not work. For example all of the remote commands (start, lock, horn, etc) don’ t work and it times out and I get an error message on my iPhone saying car needs to be in a good coverage area.”
Bluelink requires good network coverage to work properly. If you’re in an isolated area where the signal is weak or in an underground parking area, you’ll have issues connecting to the car.
Lots of owners have also found that Bluelink starts having connection issues if the car has been sitting for a while. In these cases, unlocking then locking the car back up using the key fob usually helps reestablish the connection.
If you’re still having issues, you can also try reinstalling the app on your phone and resetting the infotainment system by pushing in the small reset button using a pin or a fine tip pen.
Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Pros and Cons
- Excellent fuel economy
- Spacious interior
- Lots of standard features
- Long warranty period
- Limited trim has good handling
- Lacks power
- Styling can be polarizing
- Some features need more polishing
What Do The Reviews Say?
“The latest Elantra, which was redesigned just two years ago, offers an attainable starting price, lots of features for your money, and styling that sticks out from the doldrum of other compacts on the roads.”
“The Elantra Hybrid is surprisingly good to drive, it even has a little extra pep in its step compared to the standard Elantra’s powertrain. Our test vehicle hit 60 mph from a dead stop in 9.0 seconds. While that isn’t blistering, it is 0.4 second quicker than the non-hybrid Elantra we also tested.”
The good news is that, for the most part, the Elantra rides and drives nicely. Though you’ll notice some jostling when driving over rutted roads, the Elantra otherwise feels smooth and well controlled.
“The Elantra’s interior is a nice place to spend time. It’s relatively roomy for the class, and finding a driving position you like is a cinch.”
“The bad news is just how loud it gets in the cabin. Wind noise is particularly noticeable, and the Elantra is far off the class leaders in this regard.”
What’s the Resale Value of a Hyundai Elantra Hybrid?
Here’s a quick look at the Sorento Hybrid’s used car pricing on Edmunds at the time of writing. Prices quoted are for the Blue trim level.