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Hyundai introduces 2011 Elantra with 40 mpg highway as standard; 18% improvement compared with predecessor

2011 Elantra. Click to enlarge.

Hyundai staged the global debut of its fifth-generation, 2011 Elantra at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Elantra is powered by a new 1.8-liter Nu four-cylinder engine with 148 hp (110 kW) and 131 lb-ft (178 N·m) of torque (145 hp and 130 lb-ft of torque for Elantra PZEV variant).

The Nu engine was developed to replace the 2.0-liter Beta engine from the previous generation Elantra. The Nu is smaller in size, weighs 74 pounds (33.6 kg) less and helps achieve an 18% improvement in highway fuel economy, when compared with its predecessor. The 2011 Elantra delivers fuel economy of 29 mpg city (8.1L/100km)and 40 mpg (5.9 L/100km) highway, with the six-speed automatic transmission or manual transmission. These figures give Elantra a highway-only driving range of up to 500 miles.

Fuel economy improvements
Nu 1.8L engine vs. Beta 2.0L engine 7.4%
6-speed AT vs. 4-speed AT 4.1%
Smart alternator 2.5%
LRR silica tires 1.4%
Cd 0.28 0.5%
Total improvement 17.7%

The Nu engine features an aluminum block with a cast iron cylinder liner, cylinder head and crank. This configuration results in a block that is 30% lighter than an iron block, shedding more than 74 pounds off the entire engine weight, while still providing comparable strength.

The 1.8-liter Nu also offers Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT) camshafts and hydraulic engine mounts for optimum power, efficiency and refinement. Using D-CVVT on both camshafts has several advantages when compared with using it just on the intake camshaft, Hyundai says. These include a 2% improvement in performance (increased volumetric efficiency); 2% improvement in fuel economy (reduced pumping loss); and a 30% reduction in hydrocarbon emissions.

In the valvetrain, roller swing arms and hydraulic lash adjusters reduce valve driven friction to improve fuel economy one percent compared with direct valve driving. The Nu engine also features a maintenance-free silent timing chain system to enhance durability and improve Noise Vibration and Harshness (NVH).

The application of a plastic two-stage Variable Intake System (VIS) enables switching between long and short intake manifolds, resulting in an across-the-board performance increase. These result in a 4% improvement in performance, a 15% reduction in cost and 30% reduction in weight, when compared with aluminum.

Another tool Hyundai engineers have incorporated into the next generation Elantra is an electronic throttle control. The electronic throttle control replaces the conventional cable and mechanical linkage found in the previous generation Elantra with fast responding electronics. This system accurately controls air intake and engine torque, improving drivability, response and fuel economy.

Hyundai’s first application of double-pipe plumbing (internal heat exchanger) is found in Elantra. Double-pipe plumbing improves cabin cooling performance, while minimizing the capacity of the compressor, which further reduces fuel consumption. An external controlled variable compressor is also used to improve fuel efficiency versus an internal variable compressor. The Nu four-cylinder engine also has an offset crankshaft design that reduces friction between the piston and cylinder wall for a 1% improvement in fuel economy.

Six-speed transmissions. The 2011 Elantra can be equipped with a six-speed manual (M6CF3-1) or automatic (A6GF1) transaxle with SHIFTRONIC manual control. The 2011 Elantra is the first small car in the Hyundai lineup to receive a six-speed automatic. Hyundai now has its own six-speed automatic transmissions in its small, medium and large FWD cars. Hyundai is also only one of four global car manufacturers building their own unique six-speed automatic transmissions.

The all-new six-speed automatic is 11 pounds (5 kg) lighter than Hyundai’s global five-speed and 17 pounds (7.7 kg) lighter than the five-speed automatic found in Honda Civic. It is considerably simpler, having 62 fewer parts, which is a key to increased durability, lighter weight and lower cost. It also features a super flat torque converter that shortens the unit’s overall length by 0.43 inches, while being 2.6 pounds (1.2 kg) lighter.

This transmission mated to the 1.8-liter Nu engine helps Elantra deliver improved fuel efficiency—11 percent more than its closest competitors and a 4% gain in fuel economy, according to Hyundai.

The 2011 Elantra’s six-speed manual transmission is also all-new and provides crisp shifts and further optimizes engine performance. These crisp shifts are courtesy of triple-cone synchronizers for first and second gears, double-cone for third gear and single-cone for fourth, fifth and sixth gears.

The Elantra’s widespread use of high-strength steel provides a 37% increase in body stiffness at a lower body weight. High-strength steel allows the suspension to work optimally. At 2,701 pounds (1,225 kg), the automatic transmission Elantra GLS is lighter than its competitors, while offering more interior room than Focus, Cruze, Civic and Corolla, with body-bending rigidity 50% higher than the Corolla. This weight-efficient unibody architecture allows for Elantra to achieve the estimated 40 mpg EPA highway rating without the need for a special eco model.

The 2011 Elantra heads to the market with a starting price of $14,380.


Dave R

The fuel economy wars have really taken off for 2011 - lots of 40 mpg highway vehicles hitting the market - within spitting distance of hybrids.

City fuel economy still has a long ways to go without hybridation, but soon you will not have a competitive vehicle unless you are at 40mpg highway.

The big selling Corolla and Civic have some catching up to do.


Hyundai is the company that Honda and Toyota worry about. Their new Sonata and Elantra have the styling and specifications right at a good price.


Goodbye Chevy Cruze.


Goodbye Chevy Cruze.

Isn't that why they came out with the "Cruze Eco" - 42mpg highway?


Expensive, exotic imported technology.
High tech unaffordable foreign concept cars are very nice but rarely cost effective.

Not from Germany?

2011 Production?

How much this will cost ?
Goodbye Corolla.
(Above translated from Japanese.)


I have seen stories about how China is discovering German cars and are buying them in greater numbers. When they find out that Buick does not match up with BMW and others it could be reduced sales for GM in China. Cars are a competitive capital intensive business and those that don't keep up get left behind.

GM's CEO stated on the Nightly Business Report that the Cruze is selling so well they are putting on a third shift. When they face the full force of competition in that segment, that is the true test of what they have to offer. This could be part of that competition. The Cruze is being advertised as a cut above Civic and Corolla...maybe.

Stan Peterson

Hyundai is on a roll.

Its new "C minus"-segment Elantra get nice fuel economy numbers. But there is nothing particularly innovative about its technology.

a) Downsize the engine, catching up with others, check.
b) Add 6 speed conventional automatic, catching half-way up with others, check.
c) Add Dual Variable Valve VVT to engine, half-way to catching up with others, check.
d) Wrap around new slightly smaller Elantra, adding more car downsizing, check.
e) Adding electronic throttle control, catching up belatedly to the rest of the world, check.

The "attractive package" has neither hybridization of even the micro hybrid variety, nor Stop-Start, nor VVL, nor throttle-less reduced pumping losses, nor dual clutch automatic transmissions, nor Eco-boost and further engine downsizing, nor Direct Injection.

Its a fine car to introduce, for say 2005.


It is their price with all of this. They offer a product with the features, economy and warranty at a lower price. Decades ago people would not consider a Korean car, now they are on the list of cars people want to test drive.

Nick Lyons


Its a fine car to introduce, for say 2005.

What 2005 model car competes with this for value? The reason this is creating a buzz is that it's a best-in-class value for 2011, regardless of the technologies involved. Would you be more impressed if the mileage were the same but they had implemented all the technologies you mention?

I for one am seriously considering this as the next car for our family. The TCO proposition is compelling--simplicity, low initial price, low operating cost.


If this car was announced by one of the Big-3 US car makers Stan would have given it a lot of compliments. Very biased, déjà vu.


This looks a lot like a Chevy 2015?

Stan Peterson

Nick Lyons & MG,

All I'm saying is the Chevy Cruze for example, is far ahead of this Elantra. Sporting Eco-boost, further downsizing to 1.4 liters, DVVT, 6-speed automatics, and has long had electronic throttles, along with fail-safes. Something that Nissan is now bragging about doing a few years ago, and Toyota only wishes it had installed.

And they implemented it in a "C-plus" or D-Minus car that is very roomy for a compact, or just a small mid-size. The Chevy Cruze get similar mileage, for a car that is almost a full size roomier, too.

Would you like me to discuss the advantages of the VW and Ford offerings too?


Another vehicle that will make CAFE obsolete. Shouldn't 2016 goals be moved to 2012 and current 2016 goals be increase by 10 mpg? That would put more pressure on manufacturers to do their home work. An improved CAFE could do more for oil import reduction than corn ethanol.

Justin VP

@ Stan,

You talking about features, which only matter to engineers. Features don't matter unless they provide a benefit. The benefits of this car, good mileage, it feels like it's high quality (been in a Hyundai lately?), and competitive price are why folks are buzzing, and other companies are quaking.

Will S

I wonder if these are EPA mileage ratings. It says it's an 18% improvement over the former 2.0, though at fueleconomy.gov, the 2011 Elantra 2.0 gets 23/30mpg city/highway. Something is off kilter here...


Transport Canada states that the 2011 Elantra with 6spd manual gets:
City: 6.8 L/100 km (42 mi./cdn gal.)
Hwy: 4.9 L/100 km (58 mi./cdn gal.)

which equals about 30 city and 40 hwy for the US EPA cycle. The Cruze ECO with 6spd manual gets:
City: 7.2 L/100 km (39 mi./cdn gal.)
Hwy: 4.6 L/100 km (61 mi./cdn gal.)

The base Cdn Cruze with the 1.8L and auto tran. gets:
City: 8.5 L/100 km (33 mi./cdn gal.)
Hwy: 5.5 L/100 km (51 mi./cdn gal.)

compared with 22 MPG City, 35 MPG Hwy in the EPA cycle.

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