Review: 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco Gets Driven, Hard


2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco

Last week, I got to drive the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco. Powered by an over-achieving 1.4 cylinder turbocharged four, the little sedan quickly displayed something of a dual nature. In “normal” and “sport” modes, the car was fine- fun, even! In “Eco” mode? Not so much.

That Eco badge is a funny thing. When I drove the then-new Sonata a few years back, the Eco was an instant favorite. Even after driving the hybrid, I still preferred the smaller “Eco” engine and its precise, quick-shifting, 7 speed DCT transmission. The Elantra Eco has a similar 7 speed DCT, and it shifts great … unless you’re in Eco mode.


2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco | Avoid Eco Mode

In Eco mode, the car comes off the line in 2nd (?). Being a tiny, turbocharged engine, the Elantra has absolutely no business starting in second, and it bogs noticeably. The natural, human reaction is to give it more pedal. When that happens, the Elantra Eco downshifts into first- which revs the engine madly. The natural, human reaction at that point is to back off the pedal. When that happens, the Elantra seems to shift into fourth and bog even worse than before.

It’s a terrible, jolting, jarring, and scary feeling. Turning left across two fast moving lanes with a car that can’t decide what it’s doing does not feel safe- and I can’t say that enough. This was the first time I’ve ever felt actually unsafe driving a tester. Which is weird.

It’s weird, because simply changing the drive mode on the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco from “Eco” to “Sport” fixes every complaint. Even dropping into the DCT’s manual mode is fun and rewarding. With that push of a button, the little Elantra becomes, almost instantly, a willing participant in spirited traffic-carving moves.

It’s no sports car, even in sport mode, but the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco is certainly an decent enough car to drive.

I know, I know- this is a green car blog. We’ve talked about how switching the transmission from “Eco” to “Sport” mode is a major emissions and fuel economy cheat. I get that- even in Sport mode, though, the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco had no problem giving back better than 40 MPG in mixed highway and city driving. That is according to the onboard computer, sure, but I was given no real reason to doubt the practical accuracy of that figure in my eight days with the Elantra.

Beyond that, there was much to like about the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco. Not much to love, but “love” is a big ask for twenty-ish thousand dollars. Especially when they get you 40 effortless MPG and all the electronic goodies you could ask for. I get why Hyundai sells so many of these things. I’ve included a few more thoughts on the Elantra in the photo gallery, below, and encourage you to leave your thoughts on Hyundai’s latest Honda Civic competitor in the comments section at the bottom of the page.


2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco | General Musings

Original content from Gas 2.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • Marc P

    I drove my 2013 Honda CRV in “eco” mode for the first year. It had a “sluggish-no-fun-to-drive” kinda feeling. Almost made me regret buying it. The Eco button was just on and I never bothered to turn it off.

    What a difference, after a year, when I turned it off. Gave me the impression I had a new car. What pep and nervousness… I had a SPORTS CAR…! Believe me, after a year in Eco mode, my non Eco mode CRV DID feel like a sports car!

    I even made a comparison and I could see no difference in fuel consumption. If anything, I had an impression I consumed LESS fuel when NOT in Eco mode. As mentioned in the article, I think a normal human reaction when you feel the car is sluggish and you want to accelerate… is to press on the gas. When not in Eco mode and you feel the car is nervous and reacts instantly with sufficient power, the normal reaction is to ease up on the gas (unless you’re drag racing!).

  • If that’s the case, the car should kick you out of Eco mode at lower speeds/in lower gears. It doesn’t.