Buying a compact sedan doesn’t mean settling for bargain basement features and performance. You can drive a small car without sacrificing style and driving pleasure. The 2024 Mazda3 and 2024 Hyundai Elantra demonstrate the state of the art in affordable sedans.

Mazda has a well-earned reputation for zippy handling and a growing portfolio of gorgeous cars. Hyundai’s solid footing in the value camp has made room for a leg up in the design arena. The Mazda3 and Elantra exemplify the best of both brands.

Which compact sedan is best for you and your family? Let’s compare the 2024 Mazda3 and 2024 Hyundai Elantra to find out.

2024 Mazda3

The 2024 Mazda3 comes as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback. 2.5 S models use the base engine, a naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) 2.5-liter 4-cylinder putting out 191 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive (FWD) and a 6-speed automatic transmission are standard on 2.5 S models (except 2.5 S Carbon Edition, which gets standard all-wheel drive). The hatchback offers a 6-speed manual transmission on FWD models. 2.5 Turbo models have a 250-hp/320-lb-ft (when using 93-octane gas) engine with standard all-wheel drive (AWD) and the automatic 6-speed. Prices start at $25,335, including the destination charge.

Mazda3 Highlights

All-wheel drive: Adding AWD to the Mazda3 improves the car’s already sharp handling. The Elantra is FWD-only.

Available turbo power: Though the base Mazda3 engine puts out a healthy 191 hp, who doesn’t want more? The turbo engine ups the output to 250 hp, giving the Mazda some snort. The Elantra’s “Flat Power” turbo 4-cylinder tops that with 286 hp but is only available in the N model.

Sedan or hatchback: In the age of the SUV, a sedan is a charming throwback. But the available hatchback style in the Mazda3 lineup splits the difference between the genres, adding meaningful utility to the model without the bulk of an SUV. The Elantra only comes as a 4-door sedan this year, even though Hyundai has produced it in various forms in the past.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Mazda3 models for sale near you

2024 Hyundai Elantra

2024 Hyundai Elantra near office buildings.

The Hyundai Elantra is a compact 4-door sedan, currently the entry-level sedan in Hyundai’s lineup and the cheapest available hybrid the brand sells. 2024 models include the Elantra, Elantra Hybrid, Elantra N-Line, and Elantra N – each with a matching powertrain and front-wheel drive (FWD). The Elantra gets a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder (147 hp/132 lb-ft of torque); the hybrid uses a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder and electric motor (139 hp/195 lb-ft of torque combined); N-Line gets a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder (201 hp/195 lb-ft of torque); and the Elantra N gets a 2.0-liter turbo-4 (286 hp/289 lb-ft of torque with Premium gas). Pricing starts at $22,590, including the destination charge.

Hyundai Elantra Highlights

Transmission options: Rarely does an economy car like the Elantra have various transmission options. Elantra SE, SEL, and Limited get a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Hybrid models get a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT). N-Line models get a 7-speed DCT. The Elantra N comes with a standard 6-speed manual or optional 8-speed DCT. The Mazda3 uses a 6-speed automatic, with a 6-speed manual available in FWD hatchbacks only.

Exceptional warranty: Hyundai gives Elantra buyers a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Each is significantly longer than Mazda’s standard 3-year/36,000-mile basic and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranties.

More second-row space: The Elantra has a significant advantage in rear-seat legroom, with 38.3 inches versus the Mazda3’s 35.1. The Elantra gets narrow wins on second-row shoulder space (55.6 inches vs. 53.5) and trunk space in the sedan (14.2 vs. 13.2 cubic feet). The Mazda3 Hatchback wins on cargo space at 20.1 cubic feet, but that’s not a fair fight.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Elantra models for sale near you


Stylish, well-appointed sedans with a variety of performance options.


We admire Mazda and Hyundai for sticking with the compact sedan when the world has turned to the SUV. Either of these sedans will offer high comfort, style, convenience, and efficiency.

The Elantra lineup, with its choices of base, hybrid, and performance models, has impressive features to recommend each model, a lower starting price, and Hyundai’s industry-leading warranty to recommend it. The Mazda3 improves with each generation and is a genuine driver’s car. The available hatchback is a great compromise between efficient space and utility.

In a close decision, we’d recommend driving both the Mazda3 and Hyundai Elantra – and buying the Mazda3 that fits your budget and needs.  


2024 Mazda3 2024 Hyundai Elantra
Starting Price $25,335 $22,590
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.5-liter 4-cylinder 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower 191 hp @ 6,000 rpm 147 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque 186 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm 132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic with FWD CVT automatic with FWD
Fuel Economy 27 mpg city/37 mpg highway/31 mpg combined 32 mpg city/41 mpg highway/36 mpg combined
Also Available Turbo 2.5-liter 4-cylinder; 6-speed manual; AWD; hatchback Hybrid; Turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder N model
Basic Warranty 3 Years/36,000 Miles 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 Years/60,000 Miles 10 Years/100,000 Miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 5 Stars Not yet rated
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 107.3 inches 107.1 inches
Overall Length 183.5 inches 185.4 inches
Width 70.7 inches 71.9 inches
Height 56.9 inches 55.7 inches
Turning Diameter 34.8 feet 35.4 feet
Headroom, 1st row 38 inches 40.6 inches
Headroom, 2nd row 37.3 inches 37.3 inches
Legroom, 1st row 42.3 inches 42.3 inches
Legroom, 2nd row 35.1 inches 38.0 inches
Shoulder room, 1st row 55.7 inches 56.5 inches
Shoulder room, 2nd row 53.5 inches 55.6 inches
Cargo room 13.2 cubic feet 14.2 cubic feet

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