Hyundai Elantra sedan 2011-2015 problems, fuel economy, driving experience, model lineup, photos
The Elantra comes as a sedan, hatchback, coupe or wagon, but we will focus this review only on the sedan. The 5-th generation Elantra sedan is a stylish front-wheel drive compact. It comes with a 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.
2014 Hyundai Elantra
The Elantra is widely available on the used car market, but is it a good choice to buy used? What are the reported problems? Let's start with the model lineup:
Model line-up: In the U.S., the 2011 Elantra sedan was available in two trim levels: the base GLS and Limited. The GLS comes with standard power windows and locks, tilt steering, iPod USB jack and 15' or 16' tires and optional Bluetooth. The Elantra Limited offers a sunroof, fog lights, heated leather front and rear seats and optional 17' tires. Optional premium audio system, navigation, rearview backup camera and automatic headlights were available on both trim levels. For 2014, the base trim level was renamed SE. The Elantra sedan SPORT with the 2.0L 173-hp engine was added to the lineup.
Engine: The Elantra GLS, SE and Limited sedan comes with the 148-hp 1.8L DOHC 4-cylinder engine with the code name "Nu." It's a modern lightweight engine with variable timing on both camshafts. The 2014+ Elantra sedan SPORT comes with the 173-hp -injected (GDI) version of this engine. Direct injection means that fuel is injected directly into the engine combustion chamber under much higher pressure. Read also: Pros and cons of buying a car with Direct Injection. The Nu engine doesn't have a timing belt; it uses a maintenance-free timing chain that doesn't need to be replaced in regular intervals.
Fuel Economy: The EPA rates the 2011-2013 Elantra sedan at 28/38/32 mpg city/highway/combined. This means you can get close to 475 miles (764 km) on a tank of gas in mostly highway driving. The 2015-2016 Elantra sedan 2.0L auto gets 24/35/28 mpg.
Mechanical: The Elantra sedan rides on MacPherson struts in the front and a torsion bar axle in the rear suspension. Rear brakes are discs. The steering is electrically assisted.
Safety: Six airbags, antilock brakes and stability control system are standard on all trim levels. Crash test results are mixed.
2014 Hyundai Elantra
2014 Hyundai Elantra
The NHTSA rated the 2012 Elantra sedan early release with only three stars out of five in a frontal crash. The 2012 later release, as well as 2013-2015 Elantra sedan got perfect five out of five stars overall rating. The 2011 model wasn't rated.
Handling and ride: The Elantra handles well and is maneuverable in city driving; the turning radius is 34.8 ft. The downside is that some road noise is noticeable, especially when driving on a rough road. The engine noise is pronounced too.
Problems: Several owners mentioned audio system failure.
Exhaust rattles are not uncommon, but they are not very expensive to repair.
There are a few reports of wheel bearing and shock absorbers going, but it's fairly common for all cars.
A problem with a transmission range switch (inhibitor switch) may cause the vehicle not to start when the transmission is in Park. One symptom of this issue is when the transmission shifter position indicator "P" is not displayed on the instrument panel. The repair is not very expensive, Hyundai issued a service bulletin on this problem. The NHTSA website has a number of complaints on this issue.
There are also a few reports that the leather steering wheel is peeling off.
We found several reports that the engine is making a ticking noise after started cold. Hyundai Auto Canada issued the bulletin 14-20-002 about a a knocking noise in the 1.8L engine of the 2011-2013 Elantra Sedan (UD). According to the bulletin, "The symptoms of this particular engine knocking condition is the engine exhibits a loud knock during start up but the noise reduces as the engine reaches operating temperature". There is a larger number of complaints about the engine on the NHTSA website for the 2013 Elantra, compared to other model years. CarComplaints.com rates the 2013 Elantra poorly, with most complains also related to the engine.
The NHTSA website shows 128 complaints (as of July 2019) about the steering in the 2013 Elantra. Many owners mention a clicking noise in the steering.
The Hyundai service bulletin TSB 17-ST-002 says the noise in the steering might be caused by a worn rubber coupling and mentions extending the warranty for certain models for this issue to 10 years/100,000 miles (google: warranty extension TXX7).
The Hyundai TSB 13-AT-014 for the 2011- Elantra (MD/UD) mentions a problem related to the transmission input and output speed sensors causing the codes P0717, P0721 AND P0722. The repair procedure involves the inspection of the harness and the connector, as well as installing a new input/output speed sensor inside the transmission.
Hyundai issued several recalls, check for details at the NHTSA website.
Hyundai warranty: Hyundai new car warranty coverage is one of the best in the industry. However, at the time we did our research for this review, the Hyundai USA website mentioned that the 10-year / 100,000 mile powertrain warranty coverage "applies to original owner only." Used car buyers can still benefit from the 5-year/60K mile basic warranty.
On the other hand, the Hyundai brochure for the Certified Pre-owned Program mentions that the 10-year / 100,000 mile powertrain (engine and transmission) warranty is included. See details here. This means that opting for a low-mileage Certified Pre-Owned vehicle is worth a bit higher price.
How do I get the best deal on a used car?
What you should know before buying a used car
What mileage is OK for a used car?
How much does it cost to buy a used car?
Pros: Looks, fuel economy, roomy interior, trunk space, Bluetooth, standard USB, iPod connection, inexpensive maintenance.
Cons: Road and engine noise, not all models are equipped with a spare tire, interior materials could be better.
Overall: The Elantra is a stylish compact car with roomy interior and a fuel-efficient engine. Given the crash test results and reliability data, we recommend looking for the 2014 and newer models. As of July 2019, Consumer Reports rates the 2012 and 2013 Elantra as "Average" and the 2014-2016 Elantra as "Better than average" for predicted reliability. We think the 2013 Elantra should be avoided due to the number of engine complaints. If you are buying a used Hyundai Elantra, consider getting a good powertrain warranty, since the engine and transmission are the two most expensive to repair items. Hyundai had problems with engines in other models, such as the Sonata and Santa Fe.
We spoke to two Elantra owners, both had the vehicle for over 4 years. Both owners were happy with the car. One owner mentioned the peeling steering wheel as the only problem she had, although later she had some issues with the transmission.
Maintenance: The Elantra is not very expensive to maintain. Regular oil changes, tire rotations, plus, after 60K, a drive belt, transmission fluid and spark plugs. Regular inspection will show if anything else needs to be done. The Owner's Manual for the 2011-2015 Elantra recommends using the 5W-20 engine oil. Oil change intervals are listed at 7,500 miles for normal conditions and 3,750 miles for severe conditions. Severe conditions include repeated short trips, extensive idling, driving in areas where salt is used in winter months, mountainous areas, etc. In our view, the engine oil should be changed at least every 5,000 miles, as some amount of oil is normally consumed between oil changes. The automatic transmission fluid is recommended to be changed every 60,000 miles (for severe conditions). Spark plugs must be replaced at or before 105K miles. Tires must be rotated every 7,500 miles. Check the full maintenance schedule at the Hyundai USA website.
Car maintenance checklist with photos
How to maintain your engine
What causes an engine to misfire
Serpentine belt: problems, signs of wear, when to replace, noises
Timing belt: when to replace, what happens if a timing belt breaks, replacement cost
Check Engine light: what to check, common problems, repair options
Why a car won't start troubleshooting tips
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2014 Hyundai Elantra sedan specifications
| Overall length:
| 178.3 in. (4,550 mm.)
69.9 in. (1,775 mm.)
56.5 in. (1,435 mm.)
106.3 in. (2,700 mm.)
|| 2,701 – 2,877 lbs. /GLS Automatic/
|| 14.8 cu. ft.
||34.78 ft. (10.6 m.)
|Sedan (GLS, Limited):
||4-cylinder 1.8L DOHC DCVVT (Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing)
148 hp @ 6,500 rpm
131 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
|EPA Fuel Economy* (US mpg, L/100 km):|
| city: 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km)
hwy: 38 mpg (6.2 L/100 km)
city: 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km)
hwy: 38 mpg (6.2 L/100 km)
||Unleaded gasoline (87 or higher)
|Fuel tank capacity:|
| 12.68 US gallons (48 liters)
|Engine oil capacity:|
|1.8L engine, drain and fill:
||4.23 US qt (4.0 liters)