Exactly a year ago, your suddenly fearful author found himself in the market for a new car. Hating the shopping experience, and with little free time, the choice soon boiled down to two scorching models: a base Chevy Cruze manual, or a similarly sparse Hyundai Elantra, also with a manual.
Twelve months later, neither vehicle exists in the United States. The Cruze is dead, and for the 2020 model year, Hyundai Motor America has decided to ditch the six-speed manual transmission, outfitting the recently updated sedan with a new continuously variable transmission.
The loss of both the six-speed manual and six-speed automatic might not please the small contingent of buyers who demand a third pedal, but it will bring a smile to the face of environmentalists and those with a deep dislike of slushboxes. Hyundai’s “Intelligent Variable Transmission” (IVT) utilizes a chain drive, improving efficiency and responsiveness over conventional CVTs. We’ll have to drive one before we can sing its praises, but the automatic Elantra offered a fast trip to Yawnville.
The difference at the pumps amounts to a 2 mpg boost, with the SE model returning 35 mpg combined. SEL, Value Edition, and Limited versions of the newest Elantra see a combined rating of 34 mpg.
Also boosted? The Elantra’s starting price. The model’s price floor rises $1,850 to a pre-destination MSRP of $18,950. Blame added standard content, which includes both the IVT and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, and Driver Attention Warning.
Engines remain the same, with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 147 horsepower and a tepid 132 lb-ft of torque in entry-level guise. The Eco model remains, offering 128 horsepower and a healthier 156 lb-ft, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch. That tranny will also be your only choice in the Elantra Sport, Hyundai’s value-priced alternative to the Honda Civic Si. The Sport’s output remains the same.
You’ll notice we specified that the stick-shift Elantra is dead in the United States, not North America. That’s because the base 2020 Elantra continues to offer a six-speed manual in Canada, with IVT optional.
As well, the entry-level “Essential” model does not don the new safety content seen on the U.S. SE trim. These two factors mean the cheapest Canadian Elantra comes in at $1,851 less than the base American model (before destination and fees), rising only $100 over the refreshed 2019 model. Information on the Elantra Sport model is not yet available for the Canadian market.