The 2021 Wards 10 Best UX winners are being revealed in random, non-alphabetical order one per day until Nov. 3. This is the fifth winner profile. Winning design teams will receive their trophies Nov. 17 during Automotive TechWeek in Novi, MI., where winning vehicles will be on display.
In the compact car segment, the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are once again battling for the No.1 sales position in the U.S.
But the fight for No.3 is equally fierce, as the Nissan Sentra faces a serious challenge from the all-new ’21 Hyundai Elantra. Through September, sales for both Sentra and Elantra were up more than 45% compared to like-2020, according to Wards Intelligence data.
The redesigned Elantra (pictured, left) has a solid chance at overtaking the Sentra this year, thanks to a remarkable array of driver-assistance and infotainment offerings that make for an outstanding user experience.
The Elantra earns a 2021 Wards 10 Best UX trophy with a surprisingly upscale look and feel, all for a $25,110 SEL trim sticker price, which translates into a joyous kind of money-saving user experience at your neighborhood Hyundai dealership.
Even the fully loaded 50-mpg (4.7 L/100 km) Elantra Hybrid Limited can be had for under $30,000 and equipped with wireless phone charging, Bose premium sound system, smartphone-based Hyundai Digital Key, 90 days of Sirius XM radio and a three-year trial of the Hyundai Blue Link connected car system with cloud-based navigation and real-time traffic info. That’s a lot of UX content.
The Elantra’s technology in some ways is better than what we saw on luxury cars not long ago. The compact car lights up as the driver approaches with the key fob, and smartphones pair quickly and easily.
Controls are intuitive and easy to use, striking the proper balance between physical knobs and switches for climate, audio and navigation, augmented by a digital menu of vehicle, comfort and infotainment settings accessible from a touchscreen above the center stack.
The Elantra comes with one of two touchscreens. The standard screen (pictured above) measures 8 ins. (20-cm) and is flanked on either side by hard buttons controlling radio, media, favorites and setup.
Because the optional 10.25-in. (26-cm) screen takes up more real estate, the hard buttons are neatly integrated just below the screen and include map and navigation buttons. Both configurations work well and include the all-important volume knob, which is conveniently placed for easy reach by either driver or passenger.
Paired with either touchscreen is a full-color, beautifully lit 10.25-in. digital (and reconfigurable) instrument cluster that can display everything from a driver-attention level meter to a powerflow icon for the hybrid Elantra.
Switching to Sport mode triggers a swirling hot-red graphic in the gauge cluster, and 64-color cabin mood lighting is available. The Elantra offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
In the Elantra N Line, the gauge cluster (pictured above) is completely different, with a large circular speedometer jutting out from the instrument panel and positioned squarely in front of the driver. A tachometer is located to the left of the speedometer.
On the infotainment front, judge Dave Zoia notes that Apple CarPlay works well with voice activation, “and it even passes the P.F. Chang’s test” by quickly and easily locating one of the popular Asian restaurants nearby. The new Dynamic Voice Recognition system is programmed to respond more readily to natural speech, relying less on structured commands.
Even on the previous-generation Elantra, we were impressed by its driver-assistance technologies. The new model is even better, with a long list of standard features. In our testing, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping technologies performed with great confidence.
Zoia considers the Elantra (pictured below) to be “light years ahead of where we were three or four years ago, which is an accomplishment, especially at this price point.”
Shoppers focusing intently on the user experience in their next compact car would be wise to take a close look at the Elantra.