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Hyundai Elantra VS. Sonata – Which Sedan is Right for You?

Sedans are the car of choice for most people who want a vehicle to drive to and from work and family mobility. The Korean automaker Hyundai has some pretty impressive offerings in this section. Hyundai’s sedans are known for being practical, reliable, and dependable. Two of the most popular ones of these are the Elantra and Sonata. 

The Hyundai Elantra is a compact sedan that provides all you need to move from point A to point B at the lowest expense while still being comfortable and fun to drive. The Sonata, which falls in the category of mid-size sedans, offers athletic handling, sporty looks, and many features and trim levels to select from. 

Hyundai Elantra vs. Hyundai Sonata Looks 

The Hyundai Sonata has premium looks with LED headlamps and DRLs. The sides of this car feature a single line that runs across both doors. It rides on 16-inch five-spoke wheels that add to the looks of the car.

Even though the Elantra is more affordable and belongs to the compact car class, it has sportier looks than the Sonata. It follows the same drooped-down hood theme in the front with LED projector headlamps and a grille similar to the Elantra. The Elantra’s side profile is distinctly different, with the more sporty lines across the doors than the bigger Sonata.

Hyundai Elantra vs. Hyundai Sonata Powertrain 

Under the hood of the Elantra, you will find a 147hp in-line four-cylinder gasoline engine or a 139hp hybrid system. The gas-only engine is coupled with a CVT, while the hybrid powertrain gets a six-speed automatic gearbox. These engine options move the car with enough power to make highway overtakes effortless and city driving easy.

The Sonata also comes with two engine options. The base engine is a 1.6L turbocharged gasoline motor that puts out 180 horsepower. In comparison, the hybrid powertrain has a 2.0L naturally aspirated I4 coupled with an electric motor for a combined power output of 192 horsepower. The good thing about the Sonata is that instead of the boring CVTs used in most cars of this class, it comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

If we compare the base models for power to weight ratio, the Elantra, with its 2,725lb curb weight, clocks in at 19.7 lb/hp. The Sonata, which weighs 3,266lb, also has a power to weight ratio of 19.7lb/horsepower for the base model. What that means is, both these cars will perform similarly in terms of acceleration and agility. 

Considering the transmissions on these cars, the base model Elantra has a CVT, while the Sonata comes with an eight-speed automatic. The CVT is great for fuel economy and smooth gear shifts. Still, the eight-speed automatic delivers more thrilling acceleration and is better for engine braking situations. 

Hyundai Elantra VS. Hyundai Sonata Suspension 

The Elantra rides on 195/65 R-15 tires. The front wheels have Macpherson Strut suspension with coil springs. Hyundai also provides a stabilizer bar in the front for added handling and grip. The rear suspension in the base models of the Elantra is a coupled torsion beam axle. 

The Sonata rides on wider and taller 205/65 R-16 tires. The front wheels are attached to the unibody chassis via a Macpherson Strut and coil spring setup, supplemented by a stabilizer bar. The rear suspension in the Sonata is an independent multi-link setup. 

Comparing the suspension setup of these two sedans, the first evident difference is the tire size. The wider tires on the Sonata do provide more grip but also cause higher fuel consumption. Next, the rear suspension in these cars is different. The Elantra’s setup is more durability-oriented, while the independent multi-link setup in the Sonata provides better ride quality and handling. 

Hyundai Elantra VS. Hyundai Sonata Trunk and Cargo Space

Moving on to the trunk space, the Elantra has a 14.2 cubic foot boot. To put that into perspective, you can easily fit six carry-on suitcases in the trunk of this compact sedan. 

The Sonata, being bigger than the Elantra, has a bigger trunk. Its 16.0 cubic feet trunk can hold up to seven carry-on suitcases. 

If cargo space is the deciding factor for you, there is not a very big difference between these cars. You can carry practically the same amount of cargo in both these cars. 

Hyundai Sonata VS. Hyundai Elantra Interior and Features 

Inside the Sonata, you’d instantly realize that the interior feels more premium than its price tag with all its nice materials and ergonomic layout. All four seats in this sedan have adequate leg, hip, and headroom. Simplicity appears to be the theme here, and nothing is overly cluttered. 

The infotainment screen in the Sonata is an 8-inch capacitive touch panel. It supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. A nice touch of technology in the Sonata is that you can use your smartphone to lock and unlock the car and operate certain functions. 

The Hyundai Elantra’s Interior also feels more ‘premium’ inside than Japanese and American options at the same price. It has the same 8-inch touch screen as in the Sonata, and the analog gauges and infotainment unit are tilted towards the driver. The passenger’s side is minimalist. It has enough room for passengers in all four seats, especially when you consider that it is a compact sedan. 

Comparing the interiors of both these cars side by side, the Sonata is about 20% roomier than the Elantra with a total passenger volume of 120.4 cubic feet as opposed to the 99.4 cubic feet of the Elantra. The infotainment system on the base models is identical, but you cannot operate the Elantra from your smartphone like the Sonata.

Hyundai Elantra VS. Hyundai Sonata Gas Mileage

The base model Hyundai Elantra MPG stands at 33 in city driving and 43 on the highway. The hybrid models are among some of the most fuel-efficient compact sedans on the market, with 53 MPG in the city and 56 on the highway.

Looking at the fuel consumption stats of the Sonata, the base model delivers 28MPG in city driving and 38 on the highway. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the hybrid variant shines here too, with 50/54 MPG, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

As you can tell from the stats, both these sedans are pretty fuel-efficient. The Sonata does consume more fuel, but that can be explained by the 20 cubic feet more passenger space it has and the fact that it is about 500 lbs heavier than the Elantra. 

Hyundai Elantra VS. Hyundai Sonata Safety Features

The Sonata comes standard with Hyundai’s SmartSense package, a comprehensive suite of driver assistance and safety features. These include automatic high-beam assist, adaptive cruise control, and a driver-attention warning that can sense drowsy or distracted driving. Higher trim levels also offer the ability to move in and out of a parking space. 

The Elantra does not offer those features as standard, but it does have automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. 

The Sonata does have more safety features as a standard option, but you can get all of them on the Elantra too as an optional upgrade, so that is not that much of a deciding factor when selecting one of these. 

Hyundai Sonata VS. Hyundai Elantra Dimensions

Here’s a tabular comparison of the dimensions of these two cars: 

Dimension Sonata (inches)Elantra (inches)
Wheelbase 111.8 107.1 
Length 192.9 184.1 
Width 73.271.9 
Height 56.955.7 
Ground Clearance5.35.3 
Curb Weight (lbs)3,2662,725

Clearly, the Sonata is bigger than the Hyundai Elantra, length, width and wheelbase-wise. That is because the Sonata falls in the mid-size sedan category as opposed to Elantra’s classification as a compact car.

Hyundai Elantra VS. Hyundai Sonata Prices

The Sonata has a base price of $25,175 for the entry-level SE trim, and it goes up to $36,425 for the top-of-the-line Limited Hybrid version.

The Hyundai Elantra’s Price starts at $20,655 for the SE model, and it goes to a maximum of $29,105 for the Limited Hybrid model.

If you are in the market for either of these cars, buying a slightly used one might be the better option right now, rather than going for a brand new one. You will get to save some money and receive the car quickly, while new vehicles come after a waiting period due to the global chip shortage.


Before we move to the verdict, here is a tabulated comparison of these two sister sedans:

Characteristics Sonata Elantra 
Engine Turbo 1.6L I4 @ 180 hpNA 1.6L I4 @147 hp 
Transmission 8-speed auto single clutch CVT or Six-speed auto
Fuel Economy (FWD-AWD)28/38 – 50/5433/43 – 53/56
Driven Wheels FWD FWD
Infotainment 8-inch Touch screen 8-inch Touch screen 
Cargo Capacity (cft)16.0 14.2
Price (New)  ($)25,000-36,000 20,000-29,000

Deciding between these cars is easy because the brand is not a factor. Both have the same reliability and build quality. The only difference is the size. Yes, the Sonata has more power, but its bigger size and weight mitigate that. 

The Sonata offers better comfort and ride quality with more space for passengers and cargo. However, the Elantra arguably offers the best value-for-money for the buyers looking for a more economical option.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is the Hyundai Sonata a luxury car?

It is a hard question to answer because there are no specified criteria for a luxury car. However, the Sonata offers an interior feel, design language, and choice of materials that are not seen in cars at this price point. Though not considered a luxury car by most, it is still more ‘luxurious’ than competitors.

Is the Hyundai Sonata a reliable car?

According to Repairpal, the Sonata has a reliability rating of 4.0/5.0. It was ranked 5th out of the 24 cars of this segment they surveyed. The average annual repair cost of the Sonata is $458, meaning that it has excellent ownership costs. 

What are common problems with Hyundai?

The most common problems with Hyundai cars include engine knocking and ABS Sensor errors. Hyundai did get defamed for ABS fire risks in its sister brand Kia’s SUVs, but that problem was not reported in Hyundai cars, and none were recalled for it. 

What is the life expectancy of a Hyundai?

Hyundais can last up to 250,000 miles with proper care and sensible driving. With an average annual mileage of 15,000 miles, that translates to an age of 15 years before any expensive repairs are required. 

What are the Hyundai Elantra dimensions?

The Elantra measures 184.1 inches long, 71.9 inches wide, and 55.7 inches high. It has a ground clearance of 5.3 inches and weighs in at 27,25lbs. Inside, it has a cargo capacity of 14.2 cubic feet and a total passenger volume of 99.4 cubic feet. 

What is the Hyundai Elantra mileage?

The Elantra is rated at 33/43 MPG for the gasoline-only and 53/56 for the hybrid model by the EPA.

What is the Hyundai Sonata gas mileage?

According to the EPA, the Sonata has a gas mileage of 28/38 MPG for the gasoline-only model and 50/54 MPG for the hybrid model.

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