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What Are the Differences Between the Hyundai Elantra and the Hyundai Sonata?

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Front view of parked red 2021 Hyundai Elantra
The redesigned 2021 Hyundai Elantra
Photo: Hyundai

Hyundai has been emphasizing its SUV lineup lately, but that doesn’t mean the automaker has been neglecting its sedans. The Sonata got a redesign for 2020, while the Elantra received its makeover in 2021.

Since they were both so recently overhauled, the Elantra and Sonata are highly similar when it comes to safety features, infotainment tech, and overall design. They do have some key differences, though. If you’re trying to decide which of these sedans to buy for 2021, read on to find out what distinguishes them from each other.

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Rear side view of parked red Hyundai Sonata
The Sonata is bigger and roomier than the Elantra
Photo: Hyundai

Size and space

The most noticeable difference between the 2021 Hyundai Sonata and the 2021 Hyundai Elantra is their size. The Sonata slots into the midsize sedan segment. It’s longer, wider, and heavier than the Elantra, which is considered a compact sedan.

Inside, the Sonata boasts 5 more cubic feet of passenger volume and almost 2 more cubic feet of trunk space than the Elantra. In an interesting twist, though, the Elantra offers a much more equitable balance of front and rear legroom: 42.3 and 38 inches respectively, compared to 46.1 and 34.8 inches for the Sonata.

Side view of silver Hyundai Elantra driving on mountain road
The Elantra performs more efficiently than the Sonata
Photo: Hyundai

Powertrains and efficiency

On balance, the 2021 Sonata is more powerful and the 2021 Elantra is more efficient. The Sonata’s standard 2.5-liter engine makes 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque while getting up to 32 mpg in combined city/highway driving. It can also be equipped with a 1.6-liter turbo engine that yields 180 horsepower, 195 lb-ft of torque, and 30 combined mpg.

Meanwhile, the Elantra’s standard 2.0-liter engine only makes 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. But it easily beats the Sonata on gas mileage by getting a combined 35 mpg.

The Sonata and Elantra both offer hybrid and high-performance N Line versions, too, and the same trend holds true with those. The Sonata versions are more powerful, but the Elantra versions are a bit more efficient.

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Front side view of blue Hyundai Sonata driving down road
The Sonata offers several features that aren’t available on the Elantra
Photo: Hyundai

Available features

The Elantra and Sonata offer a similar range of infotainment, safety, and convenience features. However, the Sonata does offer a few options that you won’t find in the Elantra. These include the 360-degree Surround View Monitor, Remote Smart Parking Assist, and a bigger Bose premium audio system.

The Elantra does have one advantage in the features department. It comes standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the Sonata only offers wired versions of these smartphone integration systems.

Red Hyundai Elantra parked in front of mural
As the smaller car, the Elantra costs less than the Sonata
Photo: Hyundai


As the larger, more powerful vehicle, the Sonata costs several thousand dollars more than the Elantra. For 2021, the base Sonata SE starts at $23,700 and the top-of-the-line Limited begins at $33,950. The starting price for the base Elantra SE is $19,650, with the high-end Limited carrying an MSRP of $25,450.

Looking to learn more about the cars and SUVs in Hyundai’s lineup? We have the details for you here at The News Wheel.