We purchased (2) Elantras, both are identical 2008 GLS models with the popular equipment group. One is brand new. The other is a former rental with 18,000 miles on it. It looks and runs near new and had a clean car fax.
Overall these cars are good for the money. They ride and handle reasonably well and both are free of squeaks, rattles and water leaks. There is tons of features not normally found in budget cars - cruise, power windows, locks and mirrors, lighted vanity mirrors and fog lights.
Both have steel wheels with plastic wheel covers that are made to look like cast wheels. The covers are well done and held on with the 5 bolts that secure the wheel. No vibrations and they are true to the rim, unlike other snap on covers.
If there is a dark side, the paint on both cars has a fair amount of orange peel and unless kept waxed, the paint scratches easily. Panel fit is perfect on both cars. One car is Black Pearl Metallic and the other is Silver Metallic. Like most Asian cars painted silver or gray, the plastic bumper covers do not match perfectly in color when the sun hits it a certain way.
There was a fuel pump recall on the 2008 Elantra, which was done on both our cars before we took delivery, so we have no reliability issues to date.
They both have 4 wheel disc brakes with ABS that stop surely and smoothly.
Both cars have 4 speed automatic transmissions that work quietly and anticipate perfectly. Cruising at 80 mph is no problem, and top gear is tall so there is no engine noise at that speed with the engine barely turning 2700 rpm.
The engines start instantly. Smooth quiet idle, 30 mpg average. The 2.0 DOHC engine is loud on hard acceleration, especially past 4,000 rpm. Otherwise no complaints.
I changed the engine air filter and cabin air filter on the used car in about 15 minutes, it's a snap to work on. The cabin air filter is accessed by releasing the glove box door and removing a small panel in the air plenum. Great design.
Overall I cannot throw stones at these cars, I got both of them for under $25,000 and they are fresh, clean great running cars. That's a feat that cannot be done at many car stores, so keep it in mind when picking at any sore spots.