Hyundai Elantra vs. Toyota Corolla

Hyundai Elantra vs. Toyota Corolla

Hyundai Elantra or Toyota Corolla? These two popular, compelling compact cars both offer inexpensive entry-level sedans, fuel-sipping hybrid editions, and spicy performance editions.

The 2024 Toyota Corolla plugs in a familiar hybrid system—it’s on loan from the Prius hatchback—in a body that’s sedately styled, but still outfitted with a wealth of safety gear and other technology. The 2024 Hyundai Elantra swings for the styling fences while it tackles Toyota head-on with its highest-efficiency Hybrid edition.

For another day, and another comparison, the hottest versions of these cars can shock with their elevated performance, in the form of the GR Corolla and Elantra N. But most buyers opt for the more pedestrian versions, hybrid or not. Which one fares better when the scores get tallied—the Corolla or the Elantra? Here’s how we break it down, and which we recommend.

 

2024 Hyundai Elantra N Line

Elantra vs. Corolla prices and trims

  • The Elantra costs at least $22,775 for the SE model; prices rise to about $31,000 for the Limited Hybrid

  • The Corolla costs at least $23,145, with Hybrids approaching $30,000

  • Best picks: Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Blue, Toyota Corolla Hybrid XLE.

How much is a Toyota Corolla? Which Corolla should I buy?

The Corolla family starts with the base $22,775 Corolla LE sedan, which comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless start, automatic climate control, and cloth upholstery. Spend a little more for the $24,595 Corolla LE Hybrid for the best value—made even better to some with the addition of AWD for just $1,400 more. Opt for the $28,345 Corolla Hybrid XLE and it’s the best deal for those who seek a well-equipped model. The Corolla comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty.

How much is a Hyundai Elantra? Which Elantra should I buy?

Every Elantra sedan has a huge list of standard features, even the $22,775 SE, which offers cloth upholstery, 15-inch wheels, power windows and locks, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Also standard: a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty and 3 years/36,000 miles of free scheduled service. For $24,725 the Elantra SEL comes with automatic climate control, 16-inch wheels, and satellite radio; it can be ordered with heated front seats, digital gauges, wireless smartphone charging, and 17-inch wheels. Spend a little extra for the Hybrid Blue Elantra: at $25,445, and you effectively get a mid-range SEL with a gas-electric drivetrain. At the top of the lineup, the $28,215 Elantra Limited ($30,600 for the Hybrid Limited, if you like) adds a 10.3-inch touchscreen, leather upholstery, and adaptive cruise control, with options for a sunroof, a power driver seat, and Bose sound.

Advantage: Hyundai Elantra, with its low price and excellent warranty. 

2024 Toyota Corolla

2024 Toyota Corolla

  • The Elantra’s a stylish dazzler outside, with less pizzazz inside

  • The Corolla has a more plain appeal, inside and out

  • Corollas actually wear nicer materials, in general

The Corolla and Elantra post up at opposite ends of the styling spectrum, at least from the outside. While the Toyota has grown more interesting to look at in its latest generation, it’s still conventional from its slim grille to its pert taillights. There’s very little to distinguish between gas-powered and hybrid versions, too. Inside, the Corolla cabin feels open and airy, especially when it’s clad in lighter finishes like the synthetic leather that dresses up top versions. Best of all, it’s laid out clearly—no buttons or switches have been tucked out of sight.

The Elantra aims to dazzle, and it succeeds. It wears a wasp-waisted body with sharp folds and flaps that looks like origami from some angles, a jet fighter from others. It’s a signature shape with the promise of timeless appeal—but it loses much of that inside, where the plain plastic interior is a letdown. It’s built around a big touchscreen in the center stack of controls, one framed in part by a grab bar, but it’s somber in its execution.

Advantage: The Elantra, if only for its show-off body.

 

2024 Hyundai Elantra

2024 Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai Elantra vs. Corolla space, size, and trunk room

  • The Corolla plays plain to its advantage

  • The Elantra has lots of glossy plastic and thin seat padding

  • Trunk space is a close win for the Elantra

How big is the Toyota Corolla?

The Corolla sedan gets billed as a five-seat sedan, but it’s better thought of as seating for four plus one occasional middle-back-seat passenger. It benefits from its simpler interior design and from more thickly padded seats than the Elantra, too. Corollas have basic cloth upholstery on entry-level versions, while Hybrids have a different fabric that’s appealing, too. Top-end versions have heated front seats and synthetic leather upholstery. The front seats suit a wide range of body types, and so does the bench in back, but headroom in row two can be limited; legroom beats expectations, though trunk space is on the slighter side, at 13.1 cubic feet.

How big is the Hyundai Elantra?

The Elantra’s grown into near mid-size dimensions, but its lower and thinner seats could use some work. Smaller drivers will notice the seat position and can adjust around it on models with power front seats; 6-footers will have no problem in front, but tall passengers will find less headroom in back due to the racy shape. Ordinary materials could improve matters all around: with more padding and more graining on the cabin finishes, the Elantra interior would better match its engaging exterior vibe. Its trunk checks in at 14.2 cubic feet, usefully more than that in the Corolla.

Advantage: They’re close in dimensions, but the Corolla just feels more comfortable than the Hyundai.

 

2024 Toyota Corolla

2024 Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla vs. Hyundai Elantra performance

  • The Corolla Hybrid trades fuel economy for acceleration…

  • ..and so does the Elantra

  • Corollas have a more compliant ride

  • Need more? There’s always GR Corolla and Elantra N

Performance comes to both the Corolla and Elantra in their special sport editions, the GR Corolla and Elantra N—with the latter building on the looks of the sporty turbo-4 Elantra N-Line with serious performance. 

But most shoppers will study the base models and the hybrids for their stellar fuel economy and low prices. Here, the Corolla Hybrid and Elantra Hybrid trade slight advantages, with neither emerging a clear winner.

How fast is the Toyota Corolla?

It’s not fast at all in base or Hybrid spec, especially when fitted with available all-wheel drive. Most versions now use a 169-hp 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes a lot of noise for its relative lack of power. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) uses belts and pulleys instead of gears, and it does the 4-cylinder no favors. The Corolla isn’t slow, but it’s also far from fast. It’s better as a Hybrid in any case: Hybrids take a small gas engine, team it with a battery pack and a motor system to boost gas mileage though not necessarily acceleration in this case. Where the Corolla shines is in ride quality, where its softer tuning and direct steering seem well-matched to its intended use.

How fast is the Hyundai Elantra?

Base Elantras aren’t very quick either, for what it’s worth. They offer a 147-hp 2.0-liter inline-4 and a CVT that sends power to the front wheels. It’s a hardworking drivetrain that still can’t thrill most drivers—and even though it’s somewhat slower, the Elantra Hybrid fares better. It’s smoother in power delivery, for starters, despite its trick 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Elantra may have slightly sharper steering than the Corolla, but it also rides slightly more stiffly, particularly on versions shod with the bigger 17-inch wheels offered by Hyundai. Hybrids, too, ride and handle with more confidence, as they get a more sophisticated rear multi-link suspension, versus the torsion-beam setup on the base Elantra.

Advantage: The Corolla, ever so slightly, thanks to its general composure.

2024 Hyundai Elantra

2024 Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai Elantra vs. Toyota Corolla fuel economy

  • The Corolla’s a Prius in four-door clothing

  • The Elantra has the top EPA ratings

  • Both vehicles have SUV companions with plug-in variants

Elantra Hybrid vs. Corolla Hybrid

Base versions of both the Elantra and Corolla score EPA-rated fuel economy in the range of 35 mpg combined. That’s to be expected; it’s even common in bigger sedans, which score better because their more aerodynamically friendly shapes taper the wind better. 

It’s in Hybrid spec where both the Elantra and Corolla soar. Toyota pegs the Corolla Hybrid at a top EPA rating of 53/46/50 mpg—but the Elantra’s most efficient edition checks in at 51/58/54 mpg as the Hybrid Blue.

Worth noting: both brands offer compact SUVs with plug-in hybrid drivetrains. The Toyota RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid and Tucson Plug-In Hybrid can drive more than 42 and 34 miles on electric alone, respectively, and have even more engaging styling. They’re more costly too, of course—as is the plug-in Toyota Prius Prime, which goes up to 44 miles and gets 52 mpg, starting around $34,000.

Advantage: The Elantra’s higher EPA ratings take a rare hybrid win from Toyota. 

2024 Toyota Corolla

2024 Toyota Corolla

Elantra vs. Corolla safety

How safe is the Toyota Corolla?

It shows some positive indications, with a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS—although it does earn “Marginal” ratings in the updated IIHS moderate overlap frontal test and “Acceptable” in the updated side test. The NHTSA says the Corolla earns five stars overall. Every model has active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking, while blind-spot monitors are an option on low-end versions.

How safe is the Hyundai Elantra?

The NHTSA gives the Elantra a five-star overall score, despite a frontal rating of four stars. The IIHS says the Elantra earns its Top Safety Pick award—even with a “Marginal” rating in its updated moderate overlap frontal test. All Elantra sedans come with automatic high beams, active lane control, and automatic emergency braking. Adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitors are widely available. 

Advantage: The Corolla has an edge here.

2024 Toyota Corolla

2024 Toyota Corolla

2024 Hyundai Elantra

2024 Hyundai Elantra

2024 Toyota Corolla

2024 Toyota Corolla

 

Which car is better: Hyundai Elantra or Toyota Corolla?

Overall, the 2024 Toyota Corolla and the 2024 Hyundai Elantra are a virtual tie, if you go by their identical overall scores of 6.5 out of 10. The difference comes down largely to priorities. We like the Elantra’s styling and features better, while the Corolla scores slightly better in safety, has a more accommodating interior, and offers a smoother ride. Hyundai’s fuel economy numbers are higher—but Toyota sells far more Corolla Hybrids. In the end, these two economy sedans spare little—except for change.

Winner: The Toyota Corolla Hybrid, by a nose.

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