Should You Pick the Base 2023 Hyundai Elantra SE, or Opt for an Upper Trim Level?
This year’s Hyundai Elantra packs a punch with riveting styling, a host of standard features, and engaging ride quality. The five-seater compact sedan starts at just a hair over $20,000, making it one of the cheapest on sale. Potential buyers can select from five trim levels—SE, SEL, Limited, N Line, and N—providing varying mixes of amenities and performance. But is the base 2023 Hyundai Elantra SE trim level enough for discerning drivers, or should they spec-up the Korean sedan?
Base 2023 Hyundai Elantra SE
Under the hood, the $20,650 base 2023 Hyundai Elantra SE will have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated with a continuously variable automatic transmission. Its 147 horsepower is enough to provide excellent fuel economy of 33 mpg in the city and 42 on the highway. However, it will take nearly 10 seconds to hit 60 mph.
Despite its sports sedan façade, the Elantra’s interior is bathed in calmness. The utilitarian yet handsome dashboard has chrome accents, and. soft touch points are scattered about the cabin. But as with any base model car, there’s a wealth of hard plastics. Some may say they detract from the overall elegance, but the fit and finish make up for it.
Base model Elantras features an eight-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay playing through a four-speaker stereo. Reigning true with affordability, the SE has manually-adjustable front seats and cloth upholstery, but the Elantra still provides ample comfort. On the safety side, the base 2023 Hyundai Elantra SE provides automatic high-beam headlights, blind-spot monitoring, and forward automatic emergency braking with collision warning. Additionally, driver-attention alert, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, pedestrian detection, a rear-view camera, and safe-exit, rear cross-traffic, rear-seat occupancy alert systems.
What features does the Hyundai Elantra SEL have?
The trim level above the base 2023 Hyundai Elantra SE will add dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, push-button start, remote start, and a hands-free trunk lid release. The infotainment screen stays the same, but the audio system includes two more speakers and provides satellite radio in addition to the base’s HD radio. The SEL also gains 16-inch alloy wheels compared to the SE’s 15-inch alloys and comes with Hyundai’s Bluelink system.
Hyundai’s Elantra SEL trim costs $21,900, but it’s also available with a Convenience package. For $1,900, potential buyers can access a 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster and a 10.2-inch touchscreen with navigation. Moreover, a wireless charging pad, heated front seats, and spiffier 17-inch alloy wheels. The package includes adaptive cruise control and cyclist detection to improve the base 2023 Hyundai Elantra’ SE’s impressive safety features.
Although the SEL has the same four-cylinder engine, fuel economy drops a bit. Drivers can expect an EPA-rated 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.
What is the difference between Hyundai Elantra SEL and Limited?
The Limited trim starts at $26,500. It includes the elements from the Convenience package plus wraps the entire interior with genuine leather upholstery. Owners will also enjoy a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, an eight-speaker audio system, ambient lighting signatures, and a welcome sunroof.
For enhanced smartphone connectivity, the Limited provides access to the Hyundai Digital Key app. The mid-range Elantra is further stocked with LED headlights, a highway driving assist, rear collision warning, and rear parking sensors. One slight difference between the Limited and the SEL and SE is its split-folding rear seats compared to regular fold-down seats.
2023 Hyundai Elantra N Line vs. Limited
Hyundai packs the sporty N Line with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 201 horsepower and 195 pounds-feet of torque. It also comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT). Further performance upgrades are larger front disc brakes and a sports-tuned suspension. As can be expected, fuel economy drops to 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.
The N Line interior is based on the SEL but features synthetic leather upholstery with cloth accents and the split-folding rear seat. Included in the $27,200, potential buyers gain sleek 18-inch wheels.
What is the difference between the Elantra N and N Line?
The range-topping 2023 Hyundai Elantra N has a much higher starting MSRP of $32,900. But if you’re looking for German sports sedan-like performance, this is the Elantra spec for you. Aggressively bolstered seats and N badges all around transform the Elantra into much more than a family sedan.
Its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder puts down 276 horsepower and 289 pounds-feet of torque. Car and Driver says the N can hit 60 mph from a standstill in just over five seconds. But that’s with the help of an eight-speed DCT (a $1,500 option) over the standard six-speed manual. Fuel economy figures drop to 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.
Is the base 2023 Hyundai Elantra SE the best for the money?
For most, the base 2023 Hyundai Elantra SE will provide enough value to justify such a low starting MSRP. It’s a particularly good pick for teenagers or anyone looking to hop into a well-stocked, fuel-efficient compact sedan. The sheer wealth of standard safety features put it above many other competitors in the class. Not to mention that industry-leading, 10-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.
Regardless, the Elantra isn’t for puttering around town anymore. It’s a full-on affordable sports sedan in the top-spec. Those shopping for an affordable four-door may not opt for a trim level over $12,000 above the base. However, it could edge some out of comparable Audis and BMWs.