Hyundai Accent — A great value

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Not many years ago buying a sub-compact car meant sacrificing some of the things that make driving more enjoyable such as heated seats, automatic headlights, keyless start, an upgraded audio system and the newest safety features. If you wanted a small car with stellar mileage, you sacrificed.

Not so much today. The new trend is to make most of the "good stuff" available — at least as low-cost options — on even the smallest entry-level sedans, hatchbacks and crossovers. This fact was very much in evidence on the new fifth-generation 2018 Hyundai Accent we drove. If you want to pony up a few extra bucks, attractive features are available. The Accent is a good example that driving frugal does not preclude heated seats and advanced safety features.

The value proposition is excellent especially for the top Limited trim level where virtually everything you can obtain on the Accent is standard equipment for $19,909 including destination charge. Among the safety features — normally not found in a mainstream sub-compact car — are automated emergency braking and forward-collision warning. A rearview camera, traction and stability control, and brake-force distribution are also part of the safety package.

Also found on the Limited are heated front seats, a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, satellite radio, a seven-speaker audio package, dual USB ports, hands-free trunk opener, keyless entry and keyless start, automatic temperature control, and automatic headlights.

For the ultimate level of convenience when it comes to remote-starting a car on a bitterly cold winter morning, Hyundai has its new Blue Link integrations that work by a customer simply asking an Alexa-enabled or Google Assistant–enabled device to start their car.

But if you are stretching the budget at 20 grand, a new Accent SE with its peppy, fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine may be in your price range for a $15,880 outlay. You will sacrifice some of the aforementioned items, but you will have a stylish, fuel-sipping, reliable mode of transportation.

The car takes on the handsome, elegant styling of the mid-sized Sonata and the compact Elantra. The new Accent is a little longer (172.6 inches) and a little wider (68.1 inches) than the sedan it replaces, giving passengers more front and rear legroom, and more space between the driver and front passenger. The Accent retains its best-in-class cargo space measured at 13.7 cubic feet. Curb weight is a very tidy 2,679 pounds.

The interior has an appealing look and the dashboard offers no-nonsense controls most of which can be accessed with physical buttons such as radio volume and tuning and climate controls. Steering wheel controls on the top Limited offer cruise on one side and audio controls on the other. A screen located between the tachometer and speedometer includes a handy digital speedometer and imparts such information as miles to empty and outside temperature. Unfortunately, navigation is not offered.

Perhaps the highlight of the Accent is an updated powertrain tuned for better fuel efficiency and drivability. The 1.6-lier 4-cylinder producing 130 horsepower and 119 pound-feet of torque is not only fuel efficient, but one of the top performers in the crowded sub-compact segment. The engine is mated to a standard 6-speed automatic, which we think is still the best way to go when most small vehicles now come with a continuously variable transmission.

As to fuel economy, the new Accent is rated at 28 mpg city, 38 highway and 32 overall. While that is mid-pack in the segment, the Accent's automatic transmission performance is at the top of the segment with 0-to-60 clocked at 8.9 seconds and the quarter mile recorded at 84 mph at 16.8 seconds. If you want true bragging rights, opt for the 6-speed manual that comes in the base SE model and enjoy 0-to-60 in a speedy 7.5 seconds.

Hyundai has even made available a driving mode selector that includes Normal and Sport allowing the driver to adjust powertrain performance and steering calibration for a bit of sporting enjoyment from the family hauler.

The low priced Accent SE comes with such modern necessities as air conditioning, cruise control, a rearview camera, power windows and door locks, and a four-speaker sound system. While the automatic transmission is a $1,000 upgraded in the SE, the best value would be to move up to the SEL at $18,180 including destination charge and get the automatic as well as other features such as the seven-inch touchscreen, alloy wheels, and an upgraded sound system.

Important to remember is that all models come with Hyundai's fully transferable 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty that includes five years of complimentary roadside assistance.

Base pice: $15,880; as driven, $19,905
Engine: 1.6-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 130 @ 6,300 rpm
Torque: 119 foot-pounds @ 4,850 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: front wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 101.6 inches
Length: 172.6 inches
Curb weight: 2,679 pounds
Turning circle: 33.5 feet
Luggage capacity: 13.7 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 11.9 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 28 city, 39 highway, 32 combined
0-60: 8.9 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Honda Fit, Kia Rio, Nissan Versa

The Good
• Long warranty
• Comfortable, quiet cabin
• Peppy, fuel efficient engine

The Bad
• Lacking navigation system

The Ugly
• Hatchback model dropped