2019 Hyundai Elantra sedan gets safer, more memorable

Hyundai has unexpectedly taken the wraps off the 2019 Elantra sedan, promising extra technology for safety and comfort from the redesigned four-door. The sixth-generation Elantra promises to be more distinctive, with Hyundai retiring some of the more subtle styling of the old model, in favor of sharper creases and bolder angles.

That means a new hood, along with a new grille and front fascia, The fenders have been changed, too, and there are new headlamps; Limited and Sport trims get LED headlamps as standard. At the rear, the trunk, taillights, and fascia are all changed, too.

New wheel designs have been introduced, both 16- and 17-inches for the regular range, and 15-inches for the Eco trim. Initially, there'll be two engine options – a third will arrive with the new 2019 Elantra Sport, later in the year – promising up to 35 mpg. The Elantra SE, SEL, and Limited will get Hyundai's Nu 2.0L MPI Atkinson Cycle engine, good for 147 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 132 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm.

Those wanting maximum miles on minimum gas, though, will want to look at the 2019 Elantra Eco. That gets the Kappa 1.4L Turbo-GDI, with 128 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 156 lb-ft of torque at 1,400-3,700 rpm. Hyundai has paired it with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, for an EPA-estimated 35 mpg combined fuel economy rating.

Later in the year, the 2019 Elantra Sport will follow. It'll pack a 1.6L Turbo-GDI engine, with a 6-speed manual transmission as standard, or a 7-speed dual clutch transmission as an option. It'll offer 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 195 lb-ft of torque between 1,500 and 4,500 rpm.There'll also be multi-link independent rear suspension, and changes to both the exterior and interior styling and trim.

We'll have to wait until that model's official debut to know all the details, but the regular Elantra is shaping up to be a step above the outgoing sedan. Inside, there's a new center cluster, with redesigned air vents, controls, and a storage tray. A 5-inch color audio system screen is standard, with Bluetooth from the SE manual and above. The Limited trim gets Qi wireless charging, while the Value Edition gets Hyundai's Blue Link connected car system with three years of service.

Optional will be an AVN 5.0 infotainment system, while an even larger 8-inch version with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and HERE HD Traffic will also be offered. A rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines is standard, and Smart Shift Drive Mode is standard on SEL trims and above.

On the safety side, there's forward collision avoidance assistance and lane keep assistance as standard on SEL trim and above. Driver attention alerts are also standard on SEL cars and above. The Safe Exit Assist system, which warns if you're about to open the door when there's traffic approaching from behind the car, is standard on the Elantra Limited with the Ultimate Package, that also adds pedestrian detection to the forward collision avoidance assist.

Blind-spot collision warnings, with rear cross-traffic alerts and lane change assist are available as part of Hyundai's Smart Sense Safety package. Pricing of the 2019 Elantra will be confirmed closer to it arriving in dealerships, which Hyundai says will happen later this fall.