Styling

The redesigned Elantra makes a good case for being the most stylish new compact sedan on the market. The car's designer, Cedric D'Andre, said one of the goals of the design was to create a car that was at least as sporty-looking as the Honda Civic, which still has a modern look even though it hasn't been fully redesigned since the 2006 model year. Hyundai has definitely met its goal, as the Elantra's styling is as dynamic as it gets in this class.

Like the Civic, the Elantra's front roof pillars have been stretched toward the front fenders, resulting in a windshield with greater rake. This gives the car a streamlined appearance, but the left pillar blocks your view a little when navigating winding roads. The car has the look of a coupe as the rear window stretches nearly to the tail, resulting in a short trunklid.

Besides the appealing proportions, there's also a bit of visual flair almost everywhere you look. Pronounced hood and door creases, arching fender flares and a trunklid lip spoiler all contribute to a level of sophistication that's been mostly absent in compact-car designs, until recently. I'd been wondering what car was going to challenge the new Focus from a styling standpoint, and with the new Elantra that question has been answered — and then some.

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