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The disappearance of proper base models from the car world is a loss that many of us feel but few vocalize. If you recall, up until the last 10 years or so, there were plenty of proper base-model cars that were cheaper because they didn’t have all the cameras, sensors, screens, and other gizmos. They came with cloth interiors and manual window cranks. These cars are all but gone today. However, there is still one out there, but you probably haven’t seen one. The Hyundai Elantra has a secret lower base model that has no touch screen. It’s ugly, but it’s cheaper, and there is something oddly satisfying about it. 

A red 2023 Hyundai Elantra compact sedan model parked in an underground tunnel
2023 Hyundai Elantra | Hyundai Motor America

Are touchscreens in every car now? 

Due to safety regulations requiring backup cameras in new cars, just about all cars come standard with screens by which to display the backup cameras image. However, there is a super-base version of the Hyundai Elantra that doesn’t have the screen. This model is only available in the Middle Eastern market, but it’s there. The Drive tracked down examples of the cheapest new Hyundai Elantra on the website of Saudi dealer Al Kaif Motors. Instead of the 8-inch touchscreen standard on U.S.-market Elantras, there’s just a small dot-matrix display. 

Despite this secret Elantra model having no screen, it still offers all the same features you’d find with other market versions. It still has Bluetooth, FM radio (probably doesn’t have AM), and manual cabin controls. 

Are there any other differences in the secret base model? 

Hyundai Elantra secret base model with the touchscreen removed
Hyundai Elantra secret base model | Al Kaif Motors

The Drive noticed that the knobs and three buttons that are on the touchscreen versions are still in the same spot as the non-touchscreen models suggesting that the mechanics behind the ugly dash are probably the same. This could even mean that the cheaper Hyundai Elantras could be retrofitted with a touchscreen down the road without much or even any hassle. 

What is the cheapest Hyundai Elantra model? 

Rear angle view of gray 2023 Hyundai Elantra compact car
2023 Hyundai Elantra | Hyundai

Here in the States and in much of the rest of the world, the 2023 Hyundai Elantra starts with the SE trim with an MSRP of $20,500. Given the differences in the market and currencies, the touchscreenless base model in the Middle Eastern market is tough to work out. Al Kaif Motors doesn’t list the price on its website. However, it would stand to reason that this version is cheaper. 

This is a version of new cars that we just don’t get to see anymore. At the risk of sounding like an old man yelling at TV commercials, it’s a shame our cars have to get so much more complicated and expensive because some drivers can’t be bothered to turn their heads to see where they are going while in reverse. I understand backup cameras are safer and even nice at times. Hell, my Mini Countryman has one. But I do miss the days when our cars’ dashes weren’t lit up like a Christmas tree at all times. I digress. 

My weird taste aside, the U.S. could really use some cheaper cars. Since the used market has exploded, there should be some new cars that are simpler and cheaper. The secret Hyundai Elantra model is an inspiration.