2020 Hyundai Elantra Sedan vs. 2019 Volkswagen Golf

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Automatic Emergency Braking optional in the Elantra Sedan as “Superior.” The Golf scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

The Elantra Sedan’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Golf doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Elantra Sedan and the Golf have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Hyundai Elantra Sedan is safer than the Volkswagen Golf:

Elantra Sedan

Golf

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

255

256

Chest Compression

.6 inches

.7 inches

Neck Injury Risk

41.4%

43%

Neck Stress

186 lbs.

210 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

182/35 lbs.

169/97 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Hyundai Elantra Sedan is safer than the Volkswagen Golf:

Elantra Sedan

Golf

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.8 inches

1.2 inches

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

14 inches

Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

45 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Elantra Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Golf was last qualified as only a standard “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

The Elantra Sedan comes with free roadside assistance for 5 years unlimited miles. Hyundai will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Golf.

Hyundai’s powertrain warranty covers the Elantra Sedan 4 years and 28000 miles longer than Volkswagen covers the Golf. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Golf ends after only 6 years or 72000 miles.

There are over 28 percent more Hyundai dealers than there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Elantra Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Elantra Sedan’s reliability 23 points higher than the Golf.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Elantra Sedan second among compact cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Golf isn’t in the top three.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 42 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Hyundai 6 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

The Elantra Sedan Sport’s standard 1.6 turbo 4-cylinder produces 54 more horsepower (201 vs. 147) and 11 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 184) than the Golf’s 1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Elantra Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the Golf:

MPG

Elantra Sedan

Auto

Eco 1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

33 city/41 hwy

SE 2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

31 city/41 hwy

SEL/Value/Limited 2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

30 city/40 hwy

Golf

Manual

1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

29 city/37 hwy

Auto

1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

29 city/37 hwy

Environmental Friendliness

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies the Hyundai Elantra Sedan as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The Volkswagen Golf is only certified to “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV) standards.

Transmission

The Hyundai Elantra Sedan comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Golf.

The Elantra Sedan has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Golf doesn’t offer a CVT.

The Elantra Sedan offers an available sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Golf doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Elantra Sedan Sport’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Golf:

Elantra Sport

Golf

Front Rotors

12 inches

11.3 inches

The Elantra Sedan stops much shorter than the Golf:

Elantra

Golf

70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

184 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

118 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The Elantra Sedan Sport’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Golf SE’s optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Elantra Sedan Sport has standard 18-inch wheels. The Golf’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The Elantra Sedan has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Golf’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Elantra Sedan’s wheelbase is 2.5 inches longer than on the Golf (106.3 inches vs. 103.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Elantra Sedan is .1 inches wider in the front and 1.8 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Golf.

For better maneuverability, the Elantra Sedan’s turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the Golf’s (34.8 feet vs. 35.8 feet).

Chassis

To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the Elantra Sedan has liquid-filled engine mounts. The liquid helps further dampen engine harshness. The Golf uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Elantra Sedan a Mid-size car, while the Golf is rated a Compact.

The Elantra Sedan has 2.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Golf (95.8 vs. 93.5).

The Elantra Sedan has 1.9 inches more front headroom, 1 inch more front legroom, .3 inches more front shoulder room, .1 inches more rear legroom and 1.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the Golf.

Cargo Capacity

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Elantra Sedan Value Edition/Eco/Sport/Limited’s trunk can be opened just by waiting momentarily behind the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Golf doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the Elantra Sedan Limited, the optional memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Golf doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Elantra Sedan Limited’s optional Seat Easy Access glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Golf doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Elantra Sedan’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Golf’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Elantra Sedan Limited has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Golf doesn’t offer cornering lights.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Elantra Sedan Value Edition/Eco/Sport/Limited has standard extendable sun visors. The Golf doesn’t offer extendable visors.

When the Elantra Sedan Limited with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Golf’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the Elantra Sedan and the Golf offer available heated front seats. The Elantra Sedan Limited also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Golf.

The Elantra Sedan’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Golf doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The Elantra Sedan’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Golf doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Hyundai Elantra Limited has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Golf doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Elantra Sedan is less expensive to operate than the Golf because it costs $109 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Elantra Sedan than the Golf, including $227 less for a water pump, $101 less for a muffler, $53 less for front brake pads, $370 less for a starter, $70 less for a fuel pump, $231 less for front struts and $62 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Hyundai Elantra Sedan and the Volkswagen Golf, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Hyundai Elantra outsold the Volkswagen Golf/GTI by almost five to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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