Hyundai Elantra vs Hyundai Sonata: Which Is Right For You?

Hyundai Elantra vs Hyundai Sonata

In comparing the Elantra with the Sonata, Hyundai begs the question, “Are you buying the car you need or the car you want?”.

Both offer levels of comfort and efficiency, but after that, there are important differences that separate the popular family-friendly sedans.

Will these differences actually matter to you?  I tested both to take a closer look at the two vehicles and see what shakes out.

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Hyundai Elantra vs. Hyundai Sonata Comparison: At a Glance

What's Similar?

  • Both are stylish and fuel-efficient sedans offered by Hyundai.
  • Both come standard with several driver-assistance features.
  • Both offer available features like a sunroof, heated seats, and a wireless charging pad.
  • Both receive minor updates for 2024, including new exterior color options and potentially updated infotainment systems.

What's Different?

  • Budget: Elantra starts cheaper, but feature-matched trims might cost similarly.
  • Passenger and cargo space: Sonata offers significantly more room.
  • Driving experience: Elantra is sportier, Sonata prioritizes comfort.
  • Fuel economy: Both have efficient options, Sonata hybrid leads overall.

Tale of the Tape

Think "compact agility" for the Elantra, "spacious sedan" for the Sonata.

While the Elantra's 180.3-inch length makes it easy to zip in and out of tight spots, the Sonata's 189.8-inch frame translates to generous legroom (42.9 inches in front, 39.6 inches in back) and headroom (38.5 inches in front, 37.7 inches in back), perfect for families or taller passengers.

Cargo space follows suit, with the Sonata's 16.1 cubic feet easily swallowing groceries and luggage compared to the Elantra's 14.2 cubic feet.

However, if parking in tight spaces is your daily struggle, the Elantra's smaller footprint might save your sanity.


Cabin Quality & Design

The Elantra adopts a modern, sporty approach with available two-tone interiors. Some materials might feel less premium.

The Sonata offers a more upscale and elegant ambiance with higher-quality materials throughout and boasts more available features, creating a luxurious feel.

While keyless entry comes standard in the Sonata, it's optional in the Elantra. Standard alloy wheels grace the Sonata, while the Elantra requires an upgrade.

Both receive 8-inch touchscreens with standard connectivity features.

Current Hyundai Elantra Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2023HyundaiElantra
2024HyundaiElantra$1,000 3.49%$199/month for 36 months, $3,499 due at signing7/1/24

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Hyundai deals

Current Hyundai Sonata Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2023HyundaiSonata
2024HyundaiSonata$750 3.99%$259/month for 36 months, $3,499 due at signing7/1/24

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Hyundai deals


Performance & Powertrains

Eco-conscious drivers might gravitate towards the Elantra's 147-horsepower base engine or fuel-efficient hybrid option.

Performance enthusiasts, however, will find the Sonata's 191-horsepower base engine more satisfying, with the N Line trim unleashing a mighty 290 horsepower. The Elantra N Line counters with a slightly higher 276 horsepower (when opting for the manual transmission), but its 201-horsepower standard engine falls short.

  • Elantra: Base engine is 147 hp, available 201 hp N Line trim (276 hp with manual transmission).
  • Sonata: Base engine is 191 hp, available hybrid option with 154 hp combined, available N Line trim with 290 hp.

Safety Equipment & Scores

Both cars received top NHTSA ratings, giving you peace of mind on the road. Standard safety features like blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning further enhance security.

The Elantra aced all IIHS tests, earning "Good" ratings across the board. The Sonata earned mostly "Good" ratings, but received an "Acceptable" rating on the headlight test.

Both cars share essential safety features like collision warnings, emergency braking, and rearview cameras.

So Which Is Better - Hyundai Elantra or Hyundai Sonata?

After testing both, I still think this question is best answered by returning to the assessment of need versus want.

Choose the Elantra if you prioritize fuel efficiency, affordability, sportier handling, and don't need a lot of interior space.

Choose the Sonata if you prioritize comfort, interior space, more powerful engines, higher quality materials, and more features.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better, the Hyundai Elantra or the Hyundai Sonata?

Both models are well-equipped, safe, and comfortable, and few will argue against getting over 50 mpg on the highway, which either vehicle will do in their hybrid editions. All things considered, the Elantra represents a great value for a vehicle priced between $19K and $25K. Got a bigger budget? Then it’ll be worth moving up to the extra elegance of the Sonata.

What does the Sonata compete against?

Notable competitors to the Sonata include the Toyota Camry, which also offers a hybrid version, the Chevrolet Malibu and Volkswagen Passat, both of which feature turbocharged performance only, and the Subaru Legacy, which has the benefit of all-wheel drive.

Is the Elantra smaller than the Sonata?

Overall, yes. However, the Elantra does offer much better rear passenger legroom than the Sonata.

Which is safer, the Elantra or Sonata?

Both models score very well in IIHS testing and offer passengers a safe ride. Both come standard with forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, collision mitigation, blind-spot detection, and lane-keeping assist.