Thursday, October 16, 2008

First Drive: 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring

Two weeks ago I got the chance to drive an early version of the Elantra Touring due out later this year. I was impressed with the little wagon as were others on our staff like Bill Jackson, our resident Weekend Athlete. We'll be posting a video with his thoughts on this car in the near future, but for my initial impressions and a photo gallery keep reading.

I enjoyed driving this economy car a lot more than I thought I would. Besides a lot of buzzy engine noise - it's amazing how you rarely hear buzzy engines anymore - the little wagon did everything right. The ride was comfortable, and there wasn't a lot of road noise. The manual transmission was a joy with light clutch feel and smooth shifter.

As a package, the Touring seemed a bit nicer inside than the Elantra sedan. The backseats folded flat with one button, and there was a lot of cargo room. But I was shocked by the starting price of nearly $18,000 for a manual transmission. Although Hyundai hasn't announced its official pricing yet, there was a sticker inside our test car, so I assume the price is accurate.

While the Elantra Touring is a nifty economy wagon, the Scion xB offers more utility and style, the Pontiac Vibe is more fun to drive, and a base Subaru Impreza gives you all-wheel drive. And all can be had for a similar price. Economy car indeed.

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