2022 Hyundai Elantra N Line Review:Driving Impressions

Jeff Youngs, Independent Expert | Jul 07, 2022

Introduction

The Hyundai Elantra serves as the intermediary between the subcompact Accent and midsize Sonata in the Korean automaker's three-sedan lineup. Like most other Hyundai models, the Elantra offers a compelling blend of attractive exterior design, a nicer-than-expected interior, plenty of standard technology, a smooth ride, and an industry-leading warranty.

Redesigned for the 2021 model year, the Elantra offers something for everyone, from the fuel-efficient Elantra Hybrid to the well-appointed Elantra Limited to the performance-oriented Elantra N, and everything in between. This makes the Elantra an excellent choice for commuters, small families, and driving enthusiasts alike. It's no surprise, then, that the all-new Elantra was voted 2021 North American Car of the Year by an international panel of automotive journalists.

This driving impression review focuses on the sporty 2022 Hyundai Elantra N Line, which sits just beneath the Elantra N in the compact sedan's trim-level hierarchy. I spent a week driving the N Line in the Nashville, Tennessee, area, including a 700-mile trek to St. Louis and back.

2022 Hyundai Elantra N Line Price and Release Date

The 2022 Hyundai Elantra comes in both hybrid and non-hybrid versions. The non-hybrid Elantra is available in SE, SEL, Limited, N Line, and N trim levels. Including the $1,045 destination charge, 2022 Hyundai Elantra pricing begins at $21,245 for the base SE trim and peaks at $33,195 for the N with manual transmission (add $1,500 for the optional dual-clutch automatic). The 2022 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid comes in Blue ($25,145) and Limited ($29,645) versions.

The test vehicle was a 2022 Hyundai Elantra N Line in attractive Scarlet Red Pearl with black cloth/leather interior and only one option: carpeted floor mats ($195). Altogether, the test vehicle's price was $26,690, including the destination charge.

All versions of the 2022 Hyundai Elantra are currently on sale, including the N, which was a late arrival for the 2022 model year.

Independent Expert Opinion: Design, Comfort, and Utility

2022 Hyundai Elantra N Line Scarlet Red Front Quarter View

Photo: Jeff Youngs

Historically speaking, compact sedans have been known more for their accessible pricing, fuel economy, and cheap insurance rates than for their exterior design. However, that appears to be changing.

Indeed, the latest crop of popular compact sedan models such as the Honda Civic, Kia Forte, Mazda3, and Nissan Sentra are genuinely attractive automobiles. Even Toyota—a brand often criticized for its bland designs—is making an effort with the refreshed 2023 Corolla. Thanks to its 2021 redesign that introduced sharper lines and a sleek profile, you can add the Hyundai Elantra to the list of attractive compact sedans.

Exterior features that are unique to the N Line include gloss black exterior detailing, twin chrome exhaust tips, and 18-inch wheels. While subtle and few in number, the exterior enhancements definitely add sporting flair to the Elantra. To this reviewer's eye, the N Line presents a more sophisticated, understated package on the outside compared to the boy-racer image of the Elantra N with its matte black grille, gloss black window belt moldings, rear wing spoiler, and matte black lower bumper and diffuser. In a nutshell, the N Line offers just the right amount of sporty touches to differentiate it from the rest of the Elantra lineup.

Inside, the Elantra N Line features leatherette and cloth combination sport seats, a roomy back seat, and a user-friendly layout for controls. While some have criticized the Elantra's interior for having too much hard plastic, to me, material quality, fit, and finish seemed appropriate—even nice—for the price point. After all, this isn't an Audi A3 or BMW 3 Series.

That said, while attractive and functional, the front sport seats grew increasingly uncomfortable on the long drives to and from St. Louis, necessitating a few more rest stops to stretch than is typical in other vehicles I've tested. If you plan to drive long distances in your Elantra, you'll want a Hybrid Limited for the fuel economy and more comfortable driver's seat.

In terms of storage, at 14.2 cubic feet, the Elantra's trunk is adequate, if not what you'd consider spacious. After all, it's a compact car. Still, I found the cargo area quite accommodating, efficiently handling a weekend's worth of luggage for five passengers.

A couple of minor gripes have to do with ingress/egress and rear-seat headroom. First, the car's low ride height, exacerbated by the low seating position of the N Line's sport seats, made getting in and out something of a chore for this tall-ish 50-something reviewer. No doubt the younger folks that typically buy this car won't have the same issue, but it's worth pointing out. Second, the Elantra's sleek, sloping roofline, while pleasing to the eye, makes for tight headspace in the back seat, especially for those over six feet tall. For young kids, the lack of headroom isn't an issue. But if you're carrying four adults, two of them may be uncomfortable. Rear-seat legroom, however, is very generous.

Independent Expert Opinion: Infotainment, Technology, and Safety

2022 Hyundai Elantra N Line Black Interior Dashboard

Photo: Jeff Youngs

As with most other Hyundai models, the Elantra N Line comes standard with a surprising level of infotainment, technology, and safety features. An 8-inch infotainment touchscreen sits atop the center stack, home to the reversing camera display and an extensive menu of audio system and vehicle-settings apps that are clearly marked and easy to understand. Power/volume and tuning knobs flank the touchscreen, adding old-school functionality to the modern system.

Among the N Line infotainment system's many features are wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, Bluetooth hands-free capability with voice recognition, satellite radio, HD Radio, dual USB ports, six speakers, and Hyundai Blue Link connected services.

The Elantra N Line also comes with digital key capability, allowing you to unlock, start, and drive the vehicle without needing a physical key. Note, however, that this feature only works with Android-compatible smartphones and not iPhones. Curious.

Pairing an iPhone with the Elantra wirelessly via Bluetooth was painless, as it should be, requiring just a few taps, and Apple CarPlay worked flawlessly the entire week. That's a good thing because the test vehicle didn't have a factory navigation system, so I relied on the native Apple Maps (and a little Waze) for traffic and directions. While it was great to have satellite radio along for the ride on our St. Louis trip, I was a little disappointed with the N Line's sound system. The audio quality of the 6-speaker system was merely adequate. Unfortunately, the Bose premium audio system with eight speakers and subwoofer isn't available in the N Line—only the Limited and Elantra N.

All versions of the 2022 Hyundai Elantra come standard with SmartSense, the automaker's suite of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). These include forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic warning, lane-keeping assistance, lane-departure warning, and lane-centering assistance.

Also standard on the Elantra are driver monitoring, automatic high-beam headlights, a rear-seat reminder system, and a safe-exit system. Other important ADAS, however, aren't available on the N Line. These include intersection turn assistance, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, rear automatic braking, and Highway Driving Assist. To access those features, buyers must step up to the Limited or Elantra N.

While I'm happy to report I didn't test any collision-related ADAS, I appreciated the rear-seat reminders prompting me to check the back seat for any sleeping youngsters before walking away from the car.

In terms of safety ratings, the 2022 Elantra (including the Hybrid) received 5 (out of 5) stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for overall crash protection. For its part, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Elantra the highest-possible "Good" ratings in all six crash tests.

Independent Expert Opinion: Driving the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N Line

2022 Hyundai Elantra N Line Scarlet Red Rear Quarter View

Photo: Jeff Youngs

While it's not as capable or well-endowed with performance bits as the top-spec Elantra N, the N Line (think “N Lite”) offers a level of sportiness well above the more mainstream Elantra trim levels.

Whereas the SE, SEL, and Limited trims use a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine coupled with a continuously variable transmission, the Elantra N Line has a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine with 201 hp and 195 pound-feet of torque. Hyundai mates the N Line's engine to either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT). For comparison, the performance-oriented Elantra N has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 276 hp and 289 pound-feet that works with a 6-speed manual or 8-speed "wet" N DCT.

The DCT in my test car had a manual shift mode and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. It also had Drive Mode Select, offering Normal, Sport, and Smart drive modes. While Sport mode was noticeably more visceral, providing a better soundtrack and firmer ride, I used Smart mode exclusively on the 700-mile St. Louis jaunt. With record-high gas prices, it was a no-brainer. Indeed, during my week-long, 889-mile evaluation period, the car's trip computer showed an average of 37.2 mpg—outperforming the EPA's 36-mpg highway estimate. Smart mode for the win!

Much as I'd like to have rowed my own gears, the DCT performed admirably. Other than a bit of clunkiness at low rpm, as is typical of this design, shifts were crisp and well-timed, providing smooth acceleration, whether at a leisurely or brisk pace.

Likewise, the N Line's suspension provided good feedback in more spirited driving while proving quite civil on the long Interstate hauls. Fortunately for handling enthusiasts, Hyundai upgrades the torsion-beam rear axle found on lower grades of the Elantra to a multi-link independent rear suspension on the N Line. Indeed, the N Line's suspension is much more communicative and helps the car feel better planted than with the somewhat archaic torsion-beam setup.

Independent Expert Opinion of the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N Line

Offering sharp exterior styling with a dash of sporting flair, a roomy cabin, a comprehensive list of standard safety and driver-assistive tech, good fuel economy, and a fantastic warranty, the Hyundai Elantra N Line seamlessly blends fun with practicality.

While it may not be as fuel-efficient as the Hybrid, as luxurious as the Limited, or as track-capable as the N, the Elantra N Line is a Swiss army knife of sorts—a versatile tool you can use to tackle a variety of tasks. It's all at once an economical commuter, comfortable road-tripper, and capable performer, all wrapped up in an athletic package. What more could you want from a compact sport sedan with a starting price well under $30K?

Jeff Youngs has more than 25 years of experience in the auto industry, including 19 years with J.D. Power in both marketing and editorial management roles. He also spent nearly six years with General Motors as a media relations pro. As a freelance automotive journalist, his work has appeared on JDPower.com, CarGurus, Kelley Blue Book, Autotrader, and iSeeCars.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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