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As evidenced by the Hyundai Elantra’s sales posted this quarter, it’s clear that drivers still appreciate a good sedan. Still, it’s odd that the Hyundai’s sales for the Sonata are so low in comparison, despite being the bigger sedan between the two. Let’s examine some other key differences between these cars and try to determine what the Sonata is doing wrong

Hyundai Elantra sales may be higher because it’s cheaper than the Hyundai Sonata

As shown by GoodCarBadCar, over 86,000 Hyundai Elantra models have been purchased in 2023 so far. The Hyundai Sonata’s popularity is higher compared to last year, but it only managed to sell about 26,000 units by the end of July, according to this Hyundai sales data. The Elantra’s year-to-date sales growth is almost double that of the Sonata’s at 42%.

Many vehicles are more expensive than ever in 2023, so the Hyundai Elantra’s low price point is probably a standout quality to many shoppers. The base trim has a suggested MSRP of $20,950, and the Limited model’s price caps out at $26,800. The N Line model, which features a powerful turbocharged engine and some sporty mechanical enhancements, starts at $27,500. 

On the other hand, you can’t get a 2023 Hyundai Sonata for cheaper than $25,450. You can access a turbocharged engine on the SEL Plus trim, which costs $32,475. The Sonata also has its own N-Line version, though this one costs almost $35,000.

According to Edmunds, the Hyundai Elantra’s ownership costs are also more affordable compared to the Sonata’s. Both vehicles have nearly identical average maintenance and repair costs. However, if you have a Hyundai Sonata, you’ll pay about $1,000 more on fuel annually (even with the base engine). The Hyundai Elantra only loses about $10,000 of its value during a five-year period, whereas the Sonata depreciates by over $13,000. 

The Hyundai Elantra gets better gas mileage

With the exception of the Hyundai Elantra N Line, every other trim comes with the same 147-hp four-cylinder engine under its hood. It’s only available with a front-wheel-drive configuration and a continuously-variable automatic transmission. The base Hyundai Elantra SE is rated for 37 mpg combined city/highway, while the SEL and SEL Plus trims get an estimated 34 mpg combined. Undoubtedly, that has an impact on Hyundai sales for the Elantra sedan.

The Hyundai Sonata has a bigger 191-hp four-cylinder engine that earns 31 mpg combined. The SEL Plus’s optional 181-hp turbo is just as efficient. Both estimates are still admirable for this segment, but it’s easy to see why the Elantra might be more appealing to commuters. 

We can attribute the Hyundai Elantra’s efficiency to its smaller size, but that comes with a few minor inconveniences. Its second row is a tad short on legroom and its trunk is just above 14 cubic ft. The Sonata’s trunk measures 16 cubic ft, and its larger size provides better passenger accommodations. 

Its efficient powertrain is just one reason why Hyundai sales are led by the Elantra in the sedan category.

Hyundai’s sales aside, which sedan offers the best value?

In addition to its efficient engine, every Hyundai Elantra comes with wireless smartphone integration and an expansive safety suite. If you upgrade to the mid-level SEL trim, you’ll receive push-button start and a hands-free liftgate. This model costs $22,200 without any extra fees. It can also be optioned a Convenience package for $1,900 that includes heated seats, navigation, and extra advanced driver’s aids. 

Even an Elantra with that trim level and package is still less expensive than a Hyundai Sonata SE. This model only has wired smartphone integration, and you still have to pay extra for push-button start. The current Sonata is also almost a decade old at this point, but the Elantra got a fresh look in 2021. 

The fully-loaded Hyundai Elantra Limited has more features than the mid-grade Sonata SEL, plus it’s over $1,000 cheaper. Given its frugal powertrain and great price range, the Hyundai Elantra sales will probably remain on top in the eyes of consumers. 


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