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Hyundai Elantra Limited vs. Sel

1. Overview

The Hyundai Elantra is a compact car that has been manufactured since 1990, and it is now in its 5th generation which started in 2010. It is a relatively cheap car, with a base model starting at $14,830. The Elantra is also known for its safety, it was named a top safety pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and it has a total of 6 airbags. There are two trim levels of the Elantra, the GLS and Limited. Another trim level, the SE, is mentioned on the Hyundai website, but the only mention of the SE trim on the Elantra is for a 2010 model, so it is uncertain whether the SE trim level is available for the 2012 Elantra. The GLS is the base model of the Elantra and it has an extremely low price, with standard features. The Limited model is the top trim level of the Elantra. With a price of $21,115, it is still rather cheap for a car with its top features.

1.1. Introduction

The Hyundai Elantra is undeniably one of the cars launched by the South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai. A compact car made for city driving, the Elantra has been a great contender for other cars in its class such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. The Elantra comes in three different trims: GLS, Limited, and SE. This comparison though will focus on two trims: Limited and SEL. With slight differences from the two, Hyundai is actually going to discontinue the Limited trim and replace it with the SEL in the future. The Limited was almost the most luxurious that the Elantra has ever gone in terms of its trims. With leather seats and other features, it was a very attractive buy for a compact car. This attracted a few people to look more into the Elantra as it did stand out from its base model and the SE. Due to the attraction however the price of it was almost in the range of a sports car or a brand name luxury car. This however was most likely what drove Hyundai to bring in the SEL. By discontinuing the Limited and bringing in the SEL, people now have an option between a more cost efficient and still quite the luxurious compact car. With this move, Hyundai has actually made the SEL the cost of what the base model Elantra used to be. This creates a tough decision for some people as now they have to decide if they want more for a cheaper price or simply go big and get everything, but of course paying a price for it. So the main core of this comparison is to see if the SEL can stack up to the Limited, and the decision making factor that determines which one might seem to be more attractive to a person.

1.2. Key Features

Comparing the key features presented in Limitation and SEL includes: First, both models preview the feature of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This feature is the starting point of technology applied to vehicles. How does it work? It facilitates the driver of an Android or iPhone to access the applications on their phone, such as music or maps, from the touch screen of the vehicle. Second, both of the models also preview the feature of Drive Mode Select and Heated Front Seats. This feature is very useful for drivers, especially during the rainy or winter season. It allows the driver to select the drive mode to save fuel and drive safely. Additionally, the heated front seats serve as a backup for the driver to feel warm when starting the drive because the condition of the car is still cold. Third, the Limited model previews the feature of a Power Sunroof. This is very useful in Asian countries, particularly in Malaysia, where the weather is hot. By opening the sunroof, there is an improvement in air circulation and a reduction in heat inside the car. Additionally, the sunroof is useful for the driver to view the rear position of the car when driving in reverse. Fourth is the feature of navigation. Both models have their own specific navigation features. The Limited model applies the Integrated Memory System for the driver. This feature is useful because the driver can store the position of the driver's seat and the side of the mirror for easier driving next time. This feature is particularly useful if there is more than one driver. On the other hand, the SEL model applies a navigation feature that works like a smartphone or mobile phone. The outlook of this navigation is similar to accessing applications on a phone. This feature has advanced the navigation system.

1.3. Pricing

Hyundai has always been known for its decently priced vehicles that also offer great feature content for the money. Elantra Limited comes with a base price of $20,895, but when comparing apple to apples, the Elantra Limited’s price is $21,980 because of the preferred package. The preferred package is a smart move for $1,100. The key feature to the preferred package includes the power tilt-and-slide sunroof and 16-inch alloy wheels with 205/55VR16 tires which are great for a summer package. The value edition Elantra SEL was easier to find on truecar.com for $17,115 after incentives in my geographic area because it qualifies for a lot more incentives through truecar and the dealer. In contrast, most of the limiteds I inquired about were only willing to negotiate $100-$200 from dealer invoice. Dealer invoice pricing may vary, so refer to truecar or get bids from the internet sales department from multiple dealers to see which model is a better value for the money based on the incentives and what you are offered. The technology package for the Elantra SEL is $800 less than the preferred package for Elantra Limited at $1,100 and it offers more for the money with one of the most important features being the blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert. This was likely the main reason why I had seen so many commercials and deals on Elantras; the blind spot detection system was rated as superior when compared to other cars in its class with a similar feature coming with the Corolla and an extra mirror located on the driver’s side to see cars coming from behind. This is a system that I believe is much still needed in cars especially for those who commute frequently and those who drive in harsh climates during the winter seasons as the salt can ruin the mirrors and the roads are often in terrible condition. The value edition Elantra SEL was easier to find on truecar.com for $17,115 after incentives in my geographic area because it qualifies for a lot more incentives through truecar and the dealer. In contrast, most of the limiteds I inquired about were only willing to negotiate $100-$200 from dealer invoice. Dealer invoice pricing may vary, so refer to truecar or get bids from the internet sales department from multiple dealers to see which model is a better value for the money based on the incentives and what you are offered. The technology package for the Elantra SEL is $800 less than the preferred package for Elantra Limited at $1,100 and it offers more for the money with one of the most important features being the blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert. This was likely the main reason why I had seen so many commercials and deals on Elantras; the blind spot detection system was rated as superior when compared to other cars in its class with a similar feature coming with the Corolla and an extra mirror located on the driver’s side to see cars coming from behind. This is a system that I believe is much still needed in cars especially for those who commute frequently and those who drive in harsh climates during the winter seasons as the salt can ruin the mirrors and the roads are often in terrible condition.

2. Performance

The Elantra SEL is more or less the same car as the Limited. The only things setting the SEL apart are more available options and the absence of several features. One impact on performance is the SEL's available power sunroof which adds weight to the car, slightly diminishing handling. This is even further impacted by the 16-inch alloy wheels available with the SEL's Popular Equipment Package. These wheels and tires are heavier than the 15-inch wheels found on the base model, and even the 16-inch alloys on the Limited. This combination of added weight from the sunroof and the 16-inch wheels is very slight, however, and not too notable to the average driver. The SEL also has the same 2.0-liter engine found on the Limited, but is available in a PZEV version in select states. This engine offers great fuel efficiency, but at a loss of 5 horsepower compared to the ULEV version of the same engine. Despite this loss, the Elantra's engine is efficient with an EPA estimated 29/40 mpg city/hwy. Overall, the SEL is a good choice for buyers looking for a mid-level compact car because you get nearly the same features as the higher Limited trim, but at a more affordable price.

The Hyundai Elantra Limited is a decent compact car that hits the mark with its affordability and practicality. As its top trim, the Limited offers the most features and is the best value. Its 2.0-liter engine provides sufficient power, though the Elantra won't likely win any races. On the other hand, the Elantra has a nice ride/handling balance and is comfortable on the highway. In all, the Limited is a good all-rounder for consumers looking for basic transportation with a touch of class.

2.1. Engine Specifications

One of the most significant improvements for the Elantra in the previous year is the decision by Hyundai to introduce an upgraded engine. In the past, the Elantra's fuel efficiency has been achieved at the cost of any sort of performance, which was a common complaint. The Limited follows the same pattern with the 1.8L DOHC 16-valve Dual CVVT I4 engine that comes standard in all other Elantra trims. This engine produces an uninspiring 145 horsepower at 6300 rpm and 130 lb-ft of torque at 4700 rpm. Certainly this engine is sufficient for day to day driving to work or school, and the fuel efficiency that accompanies it is very impressive. However, if performance is a priority, the 1.8L engine will likely not be a satisfying choice. A lot of people shopping for a new Elantra are likely not even aware of the fact that the engine can come optionally upgraded, because the only Elantra sedan that comes with the improved engine is the automatic-transmission GL, a rare and little-known trim which is difficult to locate in dealer inventory. The GL comes with the new 2.0L Nu GDI DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine that produces a far more respectable 173 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 154 lb-ft of torque at 4700 rpm. This engine is also available in the Elantra GT, and it is strange that Hyundai has continued to limit the availability of its most powerful engine to only certain Elantra models. That said, the fact that the GL is roughly the same price as the Limited means that people desiring to buy a new Elantra with performance in mind would likely be better off choosing a GL with a Preferred Package over the lower-trim Limited. With the Preferred Package added, the GL still remains cheaper than the Limited with no major sacrifices, and the improved engine will certainly be worth the tradeoff in fuel economy.

2.2. Fuel Efficiency

Despite the fact that SEL's engine is more powerful and efficient than the limited's, the limited takes the cake on fuel efficiency. Its 1.8L engine has an estimated miles per gallon (MPG) of 28 city and 37 highway, while the 2.0L engine has an estimated MPG of 26 city and 36 highway. It's clear that the limited has a small advantage when it comes to highway driving, but what is more important to notice is that both engines have only a 1 MPG difference between the city ratings. Regular drivers will obviously see fluctuation in fuel efficiency from above or below these estimates so the margin between the engines will be something a SEL driver will want to consider if they're planning to spend nearly all of their drive time in the city. This is a bit of a trade-off in that SEL owners will be saving a bit more money on the actual car at the time of purchase, while limited owners will be saving more money overtime per gasoline purchased. Nevertheless, the differences here aren't too large and neither model of Elantra will be heavy on the fuel consumption.

Fuel efficiency is critically scrutinized by today's buyers and goes an extended way in finding out how low a vehicle's overall cost of ownership comes out to be. Hyundai has done a really good job of making an attempt to make the most of gas mileage from every of its powerplants and both model of the Elantra includes Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engine technology. From here though, limited and SEL trims take on slightly different fuel saving approaches. The limited comes with a 1.8L inline 4 cylinder engine which produces 145hp and 130 lb-ft of torque, however SEL comes with a 2.0L inline 4 cylinder engine which produces 147hp and 132 lb-ft of torque.

2.3. Handling and Suspension

The Elantra Limited and SEL have the same suspension, which is a good thing considering the different handling characteristics of both cars. The Elantra is a very light car with a tendency towards understeer. The Limited is a bit softer than the SEL model because of its 16" wheels versus the 15" wheels on the SEL. Interstate driving isn't any different, and the car still feels stable to 80 MPH. Limit handling is where the differences between the two models begin to arise. The SEL feels more agile and nimble thanks to the slightly firmer suspension and smaller tires. The car has a neutral feel and slight oversteer when lift-throttle is applied in a turn. The Elantra Limited has much more body lean and a feeling of detachment due to the understeer. During limit handling, most of the work is done by the front tires and lift-throttle will simply push the car into more understeer rather than induce any oversteer. Overall, both cars have respectable handling and ride quality for their class and price range. Upgrading to a larger 16" wheel and tire is optional on the SEL and might be a good alternative for those who desire a more comfortable and softer riding car. Due to the identical suspension, the Limited model will also benefit from this to some extent. Ride quality is quite good for both cars, with impact harshness only becoming noticeable on the larger bumps and potholes. Coupes and sedans share identical dampers, springs, and stabilizer bars, so the driving experience between the two should be very similar. Linear and GT models have uniquely tuned suspensions that are tailored to their performance oriented nature.

2.4. Acceleration and Top Speed

Acceleration is a key feature these days, most buyers demand an accelerating vehicle. The 2011 Elantra Limited and SEL have really good acceleration due to the 1.8L DOHC engine with D-CVVT and a 6-speed automatic or manual transmission. This powertrain is estimated to have a best-in-class 40MPG in the Limited model and 29MPG in the city and 40MPG on the highway for the SEL model. These figures are quite impressive in comparison to cars in the same segment and class. To achieve good acceleration, Hyundai has leveraged technologies such as Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing and Electronic throttle control. With best-in-class power-to-weight ratio, Elantra achieves better performance and fuel economy with the same-sized engines. No details were available on the top speed, but this can be roughly calculated using the engine's power characteristics and drag. With best-in-class power-to-weight ratio, Elantra achieves better performance and fuel economy with the same-sized engines. Finally, Elantra features the new MDPS (Motor-Driven Power Steering) and EPS (Electronic Power Steering) systems. These enable greater fuel economy, as they are not driven by hydraulic systems powered by the engine. The MDPS is powered by a small electric motor, and the EPS completely eliminates a parasitic loss on the engine from a power steering pump. Pricing will be announced later for the Limited and SEL Elantra models.

3. Interior and Comfort

Unfortunately, rear passenger space is less than acceptable. Headroom for the rear seat is not great due to the Elantra's low profile, and while legroom is rated at 34.8 inches, it's more of the type that you can only just get away with. The rear passenger sits straight upright in order to get any knee room, and their legs are basically touching the front seats. If the driver happens to be tall and have their seat back further than usual, then rear passenger legroom is pretty much nonexistent. The rear seat itself is a 60/40 split-fold-down seat, and the Limited comes with heated rear seats. This is something that's pretty competitive for this class of car, but I can't help but think it's a bit of a wasted feature on the Elantra. Owing to its already limited rear passenger space and the fact that such features are really just icing on the cake in terms of rear passenger comfort, it's really of little real benefit. So wasted in the fact that people buying an Elantra are purchasing an Elantra, and this means that it's a car for basic A to B transport. And that's something that's really only going to involve the driver and maybe 1-2 passengers at most.

The cabin of the new Elantra is really hard to define. I should say it is a bit of a mixed bag with some things being quite good, and some other things being a letdown. The seating and space is an area that I was looking forward to with the Elantra. Hyundai had in the past often been generous in both these areas with many of their vehicles, but unfortunately the new Elantra doesn't carry on this tradition. From the driver and front passenger perspective, the Elantra is a fairly comfortable place to be. The Limited and SEL come with an 8-way power driver's seat and power lumbar support. This was a plus for me as I find this feature really helps to get the most comfortable seating position. The seats themselves, although not the most generously sized, are fairly comfortable and supportive, and the space in front is acceptable.

3.1. Seating and Space

This analysis focuses on the specs of both Hyundai Elantra Limited and Hyundai Elantra SEL. The seating configuration for both of these cars is set to fabric seat material. This reduces the hassle of maintaining it and fits those who are not into leather material. There is no specific information on the number of seat adjustments and the headroom position, especially for the Elantra SEL. However, for customers who fancy seat adjustment mobility, Elantra Limited would be the choice because of its 6-way adjustable driver seat. The latest Elantra model has increased the legroom length to 42.2 inches and a shoulder room up to 56.2 inches. This indirectly makes the rear passengers of both Elantra SEL and Limited more comfortable compared to the previous model. This is an added advantage for both users of Elantra cars because other car manufacturers have their rear seats more compact than the Elantra model. Another advantage of these Elantra cars is that the spaciousness of the interior cabin allows the occupant to have a higher level of comfort due to easier movement from the driver's seat to the other passenger seats. This indicates that there is more functional spaciousness for the Elantra cars' interior compared to another car in the same segment. Both Elantra SEL and Limited have a split-fold rear seat that can be used as storage for large cargo space. Elantra cars have a larger trunk space compared to the previous model, 14.8 cubic feet of trunk space. It can fit various sizes of cargo for various outdoor activities.

3.2. Technology and Infotainment

The redesign includes a bigger focus on developing in-car tech than previous Elantras. Both Limited and SE trims get 7.0-inch displays with more color capacitive touchscreen on Limiteds. Android Auto and Apple Car Play capability are available on both models as well as Hyundai's next-gen Blue Link system which includes complete integration for smartwatches and Amazon Echo. The Limited There is also an available Infinity Premium Audio system with Clari-Fi Music Restoration lowers system sounds, providing the look and feel of audio heard in music studios. Elantra Sport is the model with the premium tech, it gets an 8.0-inch navigation system supporting Pandora, SoundHound and sports an eight speaker audio system including Center Channel and Subwoofer. "We're very excited to bring in the 2017 Elantra with all of its new technology, when you combine the car's tech with the 2017 Ioniq's we believe that this will really set the bar for the compact car segment in terms of technology," stated Brandon Ramirez, senior group manager, Product Planning, Hyundai Motor America. Coming from a company selling cars with the best warranties and now increasing their standard features, what Ramirez said may well be true.

3.3. Interior Design and Materials

The distinguishing factor between the interior of a Limited and SEL is the level of refinement. The Limited includes a number of upscale features not offered on the SEL. For example, the Limited includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob while the SEL does not. The Limited also includes a power driver seat with lumbar support and auto-dimming rearview mirror with a HomeLink universal transceiver. Both of these features are appealing to different groups of consumers. The power driver seat with lumbar support is generally for the older crowd who may have back problems, while the HomeLink universal transceiver is a feature used in homes with multiple vehicles. On the upside, both the SEL and Limited have the same amount of interior space. With a total interior volume of 110.2 cubic feet and 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space, everyone is comfortable inside. Although this might not be the biggest car in the segment, it is larger than some of its main rivals like the Honda Civic and Mazda 3. Both cars have heated front seats but the Limited's heated seats have a higher level of warmth with the inclusion of three levels setting, compared to the SEL's two-level setting. Also offered only on the Limited is dual automatic temperature control. This system is quite convenient but may not be significant enough for many customers to want to spend extra money to move up from the SEL.

3.4. Comfort and Convenience Features

The Limited and SEL models of the Hyundai Elantra share the same seating and space statistics, so my comments under the Comfort and Convenience Features section will pertain to both models. Each model has power windows, locks, and mirrors; remote keyless entry with alarm; and available leather. A power sunroof is optional and would be the major comfort feature difference between the two cars. The sunroof is available in a package with a few other options such as a 6-disc CD changer with MP3 capability and 6 speakers instead of 4, for the Limited model only. Both models have some convenience built into the steering wheel, as the audio and cruise controls are within easy reach of the driver's hands. Dual automatic temperature control and heated front seats are optional for both models as well. A feature that could be overlooked but is still important to many drivers, the Limited model comes with illuminated vanity mirrors. Finally, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink and a compass is available for the Limited model. All of these small features can make a difference over time in comfort and convenience and help distinguish the higher and lower trim levels of the Elantra.

4. Safety and Advanced Features

The Elantra Limited has impressive standard features that ensure the vehicle is safe in the event of a crash. Despite being a compact sedan, it comes with a vehicle safety system, electronic stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes, all features that are essential in providing the best stability for the driver. In terms of protecting the occupants, it has 6 airbags, including side curtains for both front and rear passengers. Also standard is a driver's knee airbag that provides great protection in frontal offset and side impact crashes. The vehicle has a 4 and a half-star rating in the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and has a 5-star safety rating in the United States. This means the Elantra provides an above-average level of safety for small to medium-sized cars, which is great news for a car that is generally used as transport for families and younger drivers. The SEL model comes with all of the above standard features, except it does not have the driver's knee airbag. However, it does provide a feature that is not available in the Limited. Despite the lack of curtain airbags, the SEL comes with driver attention warning, a state-of-the-art safety feature that uses software to discern the driving patterns of the person behind the wheel. If this software recognizes that the driver's attention level has decreased, it will intervene with an audio and visual cue. This is fantastic for preventing crashes caused by a moment's lost focus at the wheel. The SEL also comes with lane keep assist, a more simple but still effective way to prevent crashes. This feature uses cameras to detect when a driver is involuntarily leaving their lane. When this happens, the vehicle provides a steering input to get the driver back into the center of the lane. These two features are a great additional safety feature to have on top of the standard safety features. Both the Limited and SEL have identical crash test results, so there is no differentiation in safety performance there.

4.1. Standard Safety Features

When it comes to standard safety features in a car, the more the better. Both models feature most of the features standard in the competition. In the crash avoidance category, both feature a rearview camera with lane guidance, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning. The Elantra Limited adds automatic high beam assist and the Ultimate Package adds automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. In all, the Elantra comes ahead in this category since more of these features are available on the base trim. In attempts to market their premium trims, auto manufacturers are guilty of excluding safety features from the lower trims and the Elantra is no exception. Many safety features that come as standard on the Limited are simply not offered on the SEL. Features such as automatic high beam assist, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and adaptive cruise control are limited to the Ultimate Package which is not available on the SEL. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection comes standard on the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. These safety features are not deal breakers for the Elantra, but for safety conscious buyers it may be hard to overlook them not being available on the SEL.

4.2. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

This feature is probably overkill for most users, but that’s left for you to decide.

The camera watches the driver's face and monitors how frequently the driver is looking at the instrument cluster. The bracelet monitors how often the driver is using the steering wheel. If the driver consistently fails to maintain eye contact with the road, or if the driver is found to be relying on the LKA system to drive for him, the car will nag the driver to pull over and drink a caffeinated beverage. If the driver does not improve his behavior, the car will intervene and suggest the driver take a break by offering to find him a rest stop on the nav. If the driver continues to refuse to improve his behavior, the most severe level of intervention involves the system disabling itself and the car pulling over to the shoulder and locking the parking brake.

The Lane Keep Assist, in combination with the rather aggressive Lane Departure Warning system, does an excellent job re-centering the vehicle in the lane even if the driver is being relatively uncooperative. The system is effective enough to work on even the large broad lanes that are often found in North America, whereas many systems struggle with those. However, off the deep end entirely-spec limited trim levels replace the simple and effective driver state warning monitor from lower trims with a more complex and intricate system involving a camera in the instrument cluster and an infrared lighting and wrist detection bracelet.

Ha is the first to install a lane departure warning system centering on both its audible and tactile warnings. The system is called Lane Keep Assist. We tried this out on several deserted rural roads. The beeping is tolerable and the forceful countersteering is welcome. It’s fairly effective, making it a welcome feature for those who do mileage on rural roads at night.

4.3. Crash Test Ratings

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Elantra a 2019 Top Safety Pick. The car received the highest rating of Good in all six crash tests. The IIHS also rated the effectiveness of the 2019 Elantra's standard safety features for crash prevention and mitigation. Elantra earned the highest rating of Superior for its vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention. The car avoided collisions in IIHS tests at 12 and 25 mph. Its forward collision warning also meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria. Elantra also achieved the highest rating of Superior for its vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention. The car avoided collisions in IIHS tests with two adults and one child dummy crossing the road in front of a car. Elite Elantra Elite and the i30 Premium scored the highest possible 5-star ANCAP safety rating. The ACCC previously rated the predecessor, the FD Elantra with a 4-star safety rating, but with the new stringent rear and side impact tests, the new MD Elantra scored a 5-star safety rating.

Hyundai Elantra Limited vs. Sel

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