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How Reliable Is the Hyundai Elantra?

Nobody wants a car that breaks down or has to be repaired all the time. There are plenty of small and compact cars to choose from, but which ones are most dependable and how does the Hyundai Elantra measure up? Here’s a look at the Elantra’s reliability over the years.

A gray Hyundai Elantra on display at an auto show
A Hyundai Elantra on display | Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

How is reliability measured?

There are multiple sources for buyers looking for reliability information about a new or used vehicle. Consumer Reports and J.D. Power and Associates both use surveys to collect reliability information from owners.

Consumer Reports looks at problems across 17 categories over the past 12 months. Reliability for new vehicles is predicted based on the brand’s history and similar vehicle models. J.D. Power and Associates uses its Vehicle Dependability Study to collect information about problems owners have had with three-year-old vehicles. The results are also used by U.S. News & World Report in its reliability rating.

The Hyundai Elantra’s reliability rankings

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Now in its seventh generation, the Hyundai Elantra was first released in 1992. Consumer Reports shares reliability ratings going back to 2005. Consumer Reports recommends avoiding Elantras from 2001 to 2006 due to poor IIHS crash test results.

Reliability ratings, which were out of five, were decent at that time though, with four in 2005 and three in 2006. Owner satisfaction was a two from 2004 to 2006.

The next generation ran from 2007 to 2010, receiving a three for reliability each year. Its owner satisfaction ratings then were three or less though. The fifth-generation included 2011 to 2016, and the Elantra again received threes each year except in 2014, when it did better, with a four. Consumer Reports liked this generation much better than earlier ones, but owner satisfaction was just a one for each year in the generation.

The most recent Elantra generation was available from 2017 through 2020, with reliability ratings available for the first three years. The Elantra received a four in 2017, a three in 2018, and another four in 2019.

Predicted reliability in the 2020 Hyundai Elantra

Consumer Reports has predicted reliability ratings for the 2020 and 2021 Hyundai Elantra, giving both a four out of five, although a full review of reliability isn’t yet available. J.D. Power and Associates and U.S. News & World Report also give the 2020 model year a four out of five for predicted reliability, which indicates “better than most.”

The 2020 model year does already have two safety recalls issued by the NHTSA. On cars manufactured between July 1 and July 31, 2019, dealers may need to tighten the right-side rear wheel lug nuts to prevent the wheel from detaching from the vehicle. And, on cars manufactured between September 3 and 9, 2019, the dealer may need to tighten the lower control arm ball joint fasteners to prevent the ball joint from detaching from the lower control arm.

Looking at Consumer Reports reliability review for the 2019 model year shows that power equipment and in-car electronics are categories that haven’t received perfect scores.

How the 2020 Hyundai Elantra compares to its rivals

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The 2020 Elantra is rated well for reliability, and only a few competitors rate higher. U.S. News & World Report rates the 2020 Elantra #7 overall on its list of compact cars, #7 in hatchbacks, and #8 in small cars. However, when looking at reliability among compact cars, the Elantra comes in second behind the 2020 Toyota Corolla. The Corolla has a top predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of five. 

On the hatchbacks list, three cars have better reliability scores than the Elantra. The MINI Cooper has a perfect five. The Kia Rio and Toyota Corolla have 4.5 ratings. The Honda Fit and Toyota Prius Prime have 4.0 reliability ratings like the Elantra does.

On the list of best small cars for 2020, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid and MINI Cooper both have perfect scores. The Kia Rio and Toyota Corolla have 4.5 ratings. And, along with the Hyundai Elantra, the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, and Toyota Prius Prime have 4.0 reliability scores.

The Hyundai Elantra is a good choice for buyers looking for a reliable car. However, it’s a good idea to stick with the current generation, which has the best owner satisfaction ratings.