Avenue Motors NJ Used
 Sales 973-319-8566
Service 973-313-5256
1453 Lawrence St Rahway, NJ 07065
Today 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Open Today !
Sales: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
All Hours

Hyundai Elantra vs. Subaru Legacy

1. Introduction

Hyundai Elantra and Subaru Legacy are two cars that are developed by the top manufacturers Hyundai and Subaru Corporation. These two cars have been developed with the current customers' future aspirations in mind. There are many features that both the cars possess, which are in quite a demand these days. Both the cars are priced between $20,000 and $25,000. This provides a good comparison between both the cars. Since cars are an essential part of day-to-day life, the customers have to look at budgeting it. These cars also provide good mileage, saving a few dollars for the customers. Both the cars are also rich in luxury and high in safety features. An attempt has been made here to compare the two cars, assessing the performance, practicality, reliability, functionality, and the cost of ownership of both cars. [1][2]

The automobile industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. With the changing times, it has also seen a drastic change in the choice and preference of the customers. With the increase in demand for the sedans and the premium compact cars, it is very essential for the manufacturers to understand the aspirations of the customers. They have to develop cars which are very convenient and hassle-free for everyday use. The modern-day customers are very particular about the mileage, the pricing, the luxury, the performance, and the safety of the car. It is highly expected that the car should be very reliable and coming at a decent pricing.

1.1. Overview of Hyundai Elantra

The Elantra is an affordable compact sedan that was an unexpected breath of fresh air to Hyundai's lineup. While the very small Accent and the midsize Sonata have been part of the Hyundai lineup for years, the Elantra seemed to fit somewhere in between and the company wasn't really sure what to do with it. Thankfully, the Elantra went from one of the worst cars in its segment to one of the best in just one generation. The Elantra's most dramatic change occurred in 2007. It is a compact with an impressive power, but it suffered from shallow interior materials and a rough, noisy ride. The newest Elantra, however, is a completely different story. Gone from the lineup are the high-performance engines and GT hatchbacks. Now there is just one sedan body style and one powertrain - a 2.0L I-4 mated to a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual. Hyundai's driving experience has recently improved dramatically, and the Elantra is no exception. The new 2.0L, 138hp I-4 is less powerful than the previous engines, but it offers smooth and sufficient power while returning an impressive 27/33 mpg city/highway. The price point also makes the Elantra an attractive vehicle. With an MSRP of around $14,000-$16,000, there are few compact sedans that offer the value for the money compared to the Elantra. The ample standard features, good fuel economy, and excellent warranty provide additional incentive to potential buyers.

1.2. Overview of Subaru Legacy

The Subaru Legacy is a unique vehicle when compared to the Elantra. It being a midsize rather than a compact vehicle has many differences. The Legacy comes equipped with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that reaches 175 horsepower (30 more than the Elantra), which gives it more get up and go than the Elantra. In order to meet the more specific needs of an individual buyer, Subaru also offers a 3.0 6-cylinder engine that will reach 245 horsepower. This could be an ultimatum for a worker who needs the all-wheel drive of the Legacy and wants more power for the occasional long trip. A student trying to save money, on the other hand, but still needing the all-wheel drive, may want the 4-cylinder. This option between engines is not available with the Hyundai Elantra. The Legacy also is equipped with a 65/35 fold-down rear seat, which complements extra space for passengers and/or cargo. This is very appealing to a family who may endure kids and lots of stuff to move around. With the larger size of the Legacy, it is heavier on fuel consumption but is somewhat justified with the large supply of all-wheel drive vehicles in this segment. The Subaru is also a safer vehicle than the Elantra on several levels. The Legacy comes equipped with optional stability and traction control features, which will make it a very steady and safe vehicle in poor driving conditions. It also has performed better in frontal offset crash tests than the Elantra and was among the safest vehicles for the 2007 model year according to IIHS. This is very comforting for a parent of a new driver or a new family. The Legacy is also more aimed towards the outdoor and sports-oriented individual with all-wheel drive to get through rough terrain and various weather conditions. This would be tough to accomplish with a compact vehicle like the Hyundai Elantra. Finally, the Legacy has the best warranty of any Subaru ever, with basic coverage exceeding most competitors' powertrain coverage at 5 years or 60,000 miles. This includes wear and tear and adjustments for the first 3 years. It is also transferable and has no deductible. This is another desirable trait for a new family with the possibility of keeping the vehicle for a long time. Overall, the Subaru Legacy would be a better choice than the Elantra for an individual or family with specific needs and safety/convenience in mind.

2. Performance

These fuel efficiency differences become even more evident when looking at the other engine options that each car has. The Legacy also offers a 2.0L Direct Injection turbo diesel that puts out a much more robust 147 bhp but excelling in torque, a crucial factor in vehicle acceleration and towing. This is compared to the Elantra's 2.0L CVGT engine and the future 1.6L diesel option, both intended for fuel efficiency and again lacking in torque and power output.

The Legacy starts with a 2.0-litre petrol engine putting out a maximum of 121 bhp. This engine is intended for the Japanese commuter requiring a family car. As such, it has been designed with an emphasis on fuel economy and is characterized by what has been described as a sluggish step off. In contrast to this, the Elantra has available a 2.0-litre DOHC engine and a 2.0-litre CVVT engine to be released later this year. Both of which will offer better acceleration and top speed than the Legacy due to its superior power output. However, likely at the cost of fuel efficiency.

Finally, moving on to performance, specifically a look at the engine and the driving characteristics of each vehicle. Firstly, distilled to its purest form, an engine is really a glorified air pump. It works by increasing the amount of air/fuel mixture that can be burnt, thus increasing the power output. Usually, the maximum power for a vehicle is given in bhp (brake horsepower) and the engine will be specified in size, generally in litres. With this in mind, the Elantra and the Legacy have taken very different approaches, both reflecting the different needs and wants of the diverse markets.

2.1. Engine power and specifications

Hyundai Elantra has a 2.0-litre in-line DOHC four-cylinder engine, hence producing 135hp. With this specification, it enables the car to produce a faster response when accelerating and still can maintain fuel saving by controlling valve timing. However, the DOHC system in Elantra is more towards CVVT. Whereas, the Subaru Legacy Front Wheel Drive (FWD) version will also come equipped with the 2.5-litre 4-cylinder horizontally opposed (Boxer) SOHC engine, and it produces 165hp. This specification enables Legacy to produce stronger torque for better driving feel and still can save fuel by controlling valve timing. Both car engines have been designed for fuel efficiency and not leaving a big power gap. For this section, the winner is Subaru Legacy due to the horsepower rating even with a bigger and heavier body, it still can produce that amount of power. But better watch out for the upcoming Hyundai Elantra, which has planned to launch another Elantra model with a 2.0-litre DOHC with CVVT engine that produces 140hp, which in that case will be on par with Legacy engine. This year Hyundai plans to launch Elantra with a new Beta II engine with no specific detail when it is being released.

2.2. Acceleration and top speed

In truth, the Legacy is remarkably faster than the Elantra. The extra 5 horsepower from the Legacy combined with the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system (which provides the best power transfer to all four wheels) allows the Legacy to accelerate from rest to a century sprint in 8.9 seconds, while the Elantra takes an estimated 10 seconds to do the same. Subaru’s sedan can also reach a top speed of 210 km/h compared to Hyundai’s 195 km/h. This result certainly reflects the engine’s output power and the power delivery to the wheels when the car is in motion.

Hyundai’s Elantra and the Subaru Legacy are both powered by a 2.0-litre, naturally aspirated engine under the bonnet. But the difference is that Hyundai Elantra’s engine can produce 147 horsepower and 183Nm of torque, while the Legacy’s engine is capable of 152 horsepower and 196Nm of torque. However, both cars come with a variety of transmissions (6-speed automatic for Elantra, 6-speed manual or automatic for Legacy) that send power to the front wheels for the Elantra and all four wheels for the Legacy. This suggests that the Legacy may run the engine more efficiently and deliver more power to the wheels with a smaller amount, leading to better acceleration and a higher top speed.

2.3. Fuel efficiency

Hyundai has an edge in the department of fuel efficiency due to the fact that Elantra has the best road mileage than the legacy. However, Hyundai's might be more economical in terms of fuel usage, Subaru Legacy has a larger tank capacity which will make it travel a longer distance without a need to stop and refuel compared to Elantra. In the long run, it will balance out the better fuel consumption on Elantra. Compared to the fuel efficiency between the two, it is very hard to tell which is better. And it is very subjective. If you are the one that does not want to stop too frequently to refuel, but doesn't mind spending more on each refuel, then you will find Subaru's better. If not having to spend too much money on fuel and doesn't mind stopping more frequently is your thing, then Hyundai's will be more towards your liking.

3. Features and Technology

Hyundai Elantra wins in this section. It comes with a 7-inch display audio system and the option to upgrade to an 8-inch with navigation. It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This allows you to plug in your phone and have your home screen appear on the display screen. Having Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allows you to have access to your phone without having to handle it while driving. Subaru Legacy does come with an infotainment system that has GPS navigation, but it does not have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is a feature that most young drivers are looking for, and Legacy does not have it to offer. Legacy does come with Bluetooth connectivity and voice command. This allows you to have a successful hands-free experience. If Legacy were to add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it may even outscore the Hyundai Elantra. Hyundai Elantra is equipped with BlueLink. It is a hands-free wireless cell phone service with voice-activated calling. It also has the ability to read your text messages out loud and allow you to dictate a response. This feature is still free for a few years, then it is offered as a package that you can purchase. Subaru Legacy comes with the Starlink Safety and Security, which offers similar features as BlueLink but at a much cheaper price. Starlink Safety and Security is a package deal at $14.95 a month and also offers various different packages that you can add on. Both the Hyundai Elantra and the Subaru Legacy offer a rearview camera and a telematics system. A telematics system is a way of monitoring a vehicle by combining onboard diagnostics and GPS systems, and this is offered in both vehicles as a safety feature through BlueLink and Starlink. Overall, the infotainment system and connectivity options weigh heavily in the decision between the two vehicles, and it is a feature that a customer must weigh the pros and cons to see what fits their everyday lifestyle.

3.1. Infotainment system and connectivity options

The Elantra comes equipped with a standard 7.0-inch display audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing you easy access to your smartphone's most important features right there in the dash. This means you can text, talk on the phone, and still have access to so many of your phone's features without ever having to take your phone out of your pocket, which is much safer than taking your eyes off the road to look at your phone. Other standard features include Bluetooth phone connectivity, dual USB ports, and a 6-speaker audio system. All of these options are also available in the Legacy. However, where the standard audio system on the Elantra is 6 speakers, the Legacy offers an upgraded 8-speaker audio system and an available Harmon Kardon premium audio system as optional packages on the higher-level trims. If you are the type of person that lives in their car and has long daily commutes, audio quality is a big factor. Therefore, in this sense, the Legacy has a bit of a better value for audiophiles. At a higher value, the Elantra offers an 8.0-inch navigation system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This is optional only on the top trim Limited model in the Elantra. Similarly, the Legacy offers a higher-value infotainment system on its higher-level Limited model, with an 8.0-inch screen and navigation package. Both cars have telematics systems that offer remote start and climate control with cell phone operation. Finally, while the Elantra has HD radio and satellite radio available on the Limited model, these are standard features on the Legacy. Essentially, at the base model, the Elantra has a more valuable infotainment system; at the higher levels, the Legacy has a more valuable system. Both cars feature top-level connectivity and are easy to use.

3.2. Advanced safety features

The word "Legacy" must mean something to Subaru engineers because every year they develop this vehicle in the most positive ways and never seem to lose anything along the way. If there is any particular feature that the "Legacy" is known for, it might just be their safety devices. Throughout the years, Subaru has been known to implement some of the best safety technologies available; many of them eventually becoming the industry standard. One such technology is the EyeSight driver assist system. While some manufacturers might just strap a camera to a vehicle and call that a driver assist system, EyeSight is a combination of cameras and sensors that quite literally "look" ahead of the vehicle and essentially improve the driver's awareness of their surroundings. It does this with features such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and sway warning, pre-collision throttle management, and the much credited pre-collision braking system. It is like having a second driver in the vehicle with you, but one that is far less likely to criticize your driving. EyeSight is an options package offered on all Legacy trims and it is my opinion that if safety is a priority, it is certainly worth the investment. Another safety technology that a Legacy buyer might consider as worth investing is blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert. While many would argue that it is best to simply turn your head around when changing lanes, it does not hurt to have a few extra sets of eyes watching the areas that you might not necessarily be able to see. This particular system is available on Premium and Limited trims and should certainly help those that live in busy urban areas. Other safety features that are standard across all Legacy trims include a rear-vision camera and driver and front passenger front airbags. These are all great tools for preventing or reducing the severity of an accident, but hopefully you will never find that they are the only reason to love your Legacy.

3.3. Interior comfort and convenience

Interior comfort was analysed and compared using data from the interior noise and rough road comfort sections. Additionally, the driving position of each vehicle was subjectively rated as either good, average, or poor. Elantra's average noise rating improved from 1 to 3.5 (lower is better) from 2006 to 2011, while Legacy's improved from 3 to 2.5. Road comfort couldn't be compared for the 2011 Elantra, but in 2006 it was rated at 2 and then improved to 3 in 2011. All Legacy ratings were 3 or 3.5, with no improvement. From personal experience with a 2010 Elantra and various Legacy models, I felt that both vehicles had good driving positions, but interior comfort of the Legacy was hindered by too much road noise. Cutting-edge technologies and advances in quality have led to a shift in consumers considering automobiles not only to be a mode of transportation, but an extension of their home, work, and leisure. It's imperative that a vehicle be comfortable for short and long journeys, and possess a variety of convenient features to fulfill various needs of different people. Interior comfort and convenience was rated by 80 J.D. Power respondents who are either Hyundai Elantra owners or Subaru Legacy owners, on a scale of 1 to 5. Elantra obtained an average rating of 3.9, while Legacy got 3.8. A minor victory for Elantra, but what really matters is where and how the ratings were achieved.

3.4. Exterior design and aesthetics

The Elantra and Legacy both have very different design philosophies. The Elantra is designed to be flashy and stylish, to help the car attract attention from prospective buyers. On the other hand, the Legacy is designed with conservative, yet strong and sharp lines to give it a commanding presence on the road. The Elantra's bright and attention-catching features do not really translate well across its model range. The base and mid-level Elantras have a simple design that does not appear to be that flashy. It is only the Elite and SR Turbo models that look more sophisticated with the LED daytime running lights and LED tail lights and are at the same level of flashiness as the Legacy. Comparing the two Elite models, the Elantra appears to have a bit fresher and modern design when compared to the Legacy, particularly in the rear lights. However, the Legacy still has more of a commanding road presence. At the top end of the range, neither the Elantra SR Turbo nor the Legacy 3.6R Special Edition really outdo one another aesthetically; it is a matter of personal preference. The only difference is the Elantra SR Turbo has been aesthetically souped up with additional color coding and body kit. Both are available in a range of seven colors; it's just a matter of deciding which look best suits the car!

4. Pricing and Value

The price of fuel is another expense to consider, and with recent rises in fuel prices, it will become much more significant when compared to now at the time of this writing. The Legacy and Elantra, compared to cars of their own classes, achieve decent and good fuel economy respectively. However, there are high expectations for the current near future after 2009, and it is likely that oil prices will inflate to extreme levels by whatever new taxes the government will impose on it. This near future is the time span during which it is expected that either of these cars will be resold for new cars if an owner intends to do so. At the expected future fuel prices, it will cost ?how much is a good quantifier? to fund for a given time of ownership. An equation using [(C x R) / M x D] with C = car's MPG in fuel, R = fuel price in $ per gallon, M = months of car ownership, and D = car's resale value in decimal yields a cost comparison. Knowing that the more fuel-efficient a car is, the more the cost scale is slanted to its favor, the Elantra has a slant value of about 1.5 compared to its competitor, while the Legacy has a value of about 2.4. This is good for both compared to the time when they were the same number of years away from being considered old cars, as the Legacy will break even and the Elantra will lose the least of any car in its class on fuel cost during that time. Such comparisons are relative to the class of cars, which these vehicles will not be, and assessable fuel price predicts a very large difference, which is favorable to the Elantra.

Cost of ownership is computed by adding the base price of the car to the sum of all its expenses over time and subtracting the resale value of the car to determine loss in investment. The Legacy will have a much higher cost for maintenance and various parts, but for the quality of the parts you are getting, it is comparatively decent. This means that the cost of ownership over the years will be near average compared to other vehicles in its class. The Elantra has a low cost for parts and maintenance, but comparative to other cars in its class, its parts are very low quality, which increases the risk of sudden part failure and decreases the life of the part. Although the repair costs will cancel the savings in parts and maintenance, the cost of ownership is still about the lowest available for a new car.

Both cars are priced significantly lower than their competition in the mid-size and compact car classes, which is a major factor we considered. The Legacy starts at about $19,995 US, which is less than most of the current mid-size class competition. The Elantra starts at an impressive $14,145, which is even more noteworthy because it is nothing more than inflation from the base price of the vehicle when it was first made in 1991. This interacts favorably because you lose the most money from any given price during the first year in ownership due to depreciation, and both of these vehicles will have less ground to lose compared to others. This means after adjustments, the Elantra has the least depreciation in price during the first year.

4.1. Base price comparison

One of the most important aspects of value in a vehicle is the cost of entry. Simply put, are you getting the most car for the money you have to spend? In the case of the 2013 Elantra and Legacy, there is a considerable price gap between the two. The Elantra bases with a manual package at $16,695 while the Legacy starts at $20,295, quite a difference at first glance. When comparing standard features between the two in that price range, one must also keep in mind that sedans in two different size classes are being compared. With that said, relative to the Elantra, the Legacy includes more interior room and a larger 2.5L engine in its base trim. Stepping up to a GL Elantra with similar standard features brings the price to $18,010. Focusing on the Elantra GL and Legacy 2.5I specifically, the Legacy can be seen as having an approximate $1,000 price advantage. The Elantra then finishes off its trim levels with the GLS and Limited. When comparing the two with a Subaru Legacy, the GLS and Limited Elantras have price tags of $19,110 and $21,115 respectively. When adjusting for current national incentives and assuming a 3% APR over a 5 year term, the Legacy can always maintain a roughly $1000 price difference at every respective trim level. In summary, when comparing specific trim levels with a Legacy, the Elantra is generally in the higher price range.

4.2. Cost of ownership and maintenance

The Hyundai Elantra and the Subaru Legacy are projected to have different costs of ownership and maintenance. The Elantra, being a compact car, is projected to have low maintenance and repair costs, due in part to Hyundai's above-average warranty coverage. The Legacy, despite its substantial reliability reputation, is a midsize car with higher repair costs and presumably higher insurance rates. Consumer Reports predicts repair histories by comparing reliability across the 17 trouble spots that users report on in their annual survey. A vehicle's reliability is determined by the year-over-year problem-free performance and by looking at specific problem areas which cause problems. Although this provides a comprehensive outlook, projected reliability and actual repair frequencies can often be very different. Speeding ticket data is also used in part to predict a vehicle's insurance rate, on the basis that tickets raise insurance premiums. According to TicketFit, the Elantra has had fewer tickets reported than average. The Legacy receives the same rating, but it is also more likely to be involved in a collision and at a higher speed. Tickets for collision-related incidents will raise the premium. Somewhat surprisingly, despite these factors, the 5-year ownership cost for the Elantra, as predicted by Kelley Blue Book, is only $300 more than the Legacy's, at $35,122. However, these figures are based on only the car's MSRP and 5-year fuel costs, and while they do take into account predicted rates of ownership, maintenance, and repair costs, they clearly favor the more fuel-efficient car. It is apparent that the cost of ownership can involve more variables than the consumer is aware of. The more costly items that contribute to the category projected by IntelliChoice include fuel, depreciation, maintenance and repairs, and fees such as insurance, registration, and state taxes. The Legacy's cost of ownership is rated as "better" than average for its class of midsize car, and the Elantra is rated "excellent" for its class, compact car. Ultimately, projected costs do not determine actual costs and can be difficult to quantify due to the amount of variables involved. However, it is fair to say that the expected cost of ownership and maintenance will be higher for the Legacy than the Elantra and may not directly reflect the comparison in base price between the two vehicles.

4.3. Resale value and reliability

The same, however, cannot be said for the Elantra. A comparison at MSN Autos of the average yearly cost of repairs shows an average of $456 for Elantra owners, as opposed to an average of $512 for Legacy owners. Now, this $56 difference in average maintenance may not seem like much, but over, say, the 6-7 years that an average person keeps a vehicle, that can add up to be about a car payment or more. Furthermore, it is rather interesting to know that when comparing specific problem areas, Hyundai's official information data of car problems and complaints showed nonexistent problems with the period of Elantra 2001-2010 ownership for engine and transmission problems. So then, what makes the Legacy, generally a well-built car, have so many more problems incurred for a higher average annual repair cost? This can be attributed to the fact that external conditions and factors in the United States and the difficult to near impossible passage of the Subaru company's AWD philosophy will affect the long-term quality of Subaru vehicles built in North America.

Much greater importance is the reliability of the vehicle during the period of ownership. A vehicle can have a very high residual value, but if it is constantly in the repair shop, TCO (total cost of ownership) will far exceed the value of the vehicle. This concept is known all too well by current and previous Subaru owners. A recently settled lawsuit citing that the company's previous three model years of vehicles with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine were equipped with faulty head gaskets. In conjunction with a greatly failing automatic transmission in the 90s, a perceptibly large number of Subaru owners have had severe mechanical problems with their vehicles and, looking at TCO, were generally displeased.

The Hyundai Elantra and Subaru Legacy, both located in the same pricing category, are said to be two of the most reliable and well-built vehicles in their class. The Elantra, named for having the highest residual value in its class, boasts a 56% residual value at 24 months and a 42% residual value at 48 months. The Legacy, with an overall very good reputation for reliability, has a slightly lower residual value at 24/48 months of 47%/35%. Usually, the more reliable the car, the higher the residual value. But why then does the Elantra, with the better residual value, outshine the Legacy in reliability?


[1] D. P. Schrag, "Daniel R. Wohl," 2023. belfercenter.org

[2] R. C. Leachman, "Market Potential and Marketing Strategy for Short-Haul Intermodal Service in Southern California," 2023. railwayage.com

A. Brazeau, J. C. Denoncourt, N. Lefrançois, V. Tremblay, "THE RISE OF LIGHT-DUTY TRUCK IN CANADA: REVERSING THE TREND," [Source Information]. equiterre.org