When it comes to purchasing a car on a budget, there are obvious compromises that must be made in the interest of affordability. A quick look at the current crop of compact sedans will reveal that performance, style and creature comforts are the first to be sacrificed at the altar of frugality. The 2010 Hyundai Elantra Blue, however, bucks the trend by offering more athleticism and standard features than the competition, while also maintaining very favorable pricing.
The Blue is the entry-level Elantra. Elsewhere in the world, blue is equated with environmental friendliness, and thus this Elantra gets its colorful moniker in reference to its slight increase in fuel economy over the rest of the Elantra lineup. This mileage increase — which accounts for 2 mpg in both city and highway driving — is attributed to a "smart" alternator management system, lower-friction engine components, taller gear ratios and other engine tweaks. We certainly welcome these small gains, but we were surprisingly more impressed by the Elantra Blue's spirited driving dynamics.
Engine output is a bit lower than other competing cars, but the 2010 Hyundai Elantra Blue feels much livelier and, dare we say, more fun to drive than those competitors. Handling is also surprisingly good, with plenty of confidence-inspiring grip and poise. Likewise, the interior is a cut above that of other economy sedans, with plenty of standard features that buyers would normally have to spend additional funds to obtain as options. Add in Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile warranty and that value gap widens even more.
When stacked up against the cheaper versions of firmly entrenched compact sedans like the Honda Civicand Toyota Corolla (let alone the similarly eco-themed Chevrolet Cobalt XFE, the 2010 Hyundai Elantra Blue rises to the top of the heap by making you sacrifice the least. In our opinion, the Blue delivers more of everything for less, and should be on the top of your list.