The honest car.
In a world of SUVs and Crossovers dominating the landscape, there’s still a need for an entry-level sedan. Whether you’re just looking for “transportation” a good first car, or even something to dutifully wait for you at the train station, a small well-built sedan can fit the bill.
And way back in the day, before the wide array of cars and trucks it now offers – plus brands including Kia and Genesis, Hyundai made their bones on simple, durable sedans. So, it’s no surprise that if you’re looking for an inexpensive place to park your backside, the Hyundai Accent is a great choice.
The new Accent starts out by making you feel a level up – starting with styling. This is a fresh, modern-looking sedan – that also looks a bit larger than you’d expect. For 2019, Hyundai added the chrome grille surround on our entry-level SE tester, adding a little bling. There’s hints of Sonata in there too, and overall this is a mature, sensible design that should age well.
Our tester in Frost White Pearl looked handsome – well, except for the wheelcovers that just look ok, but a clean design like this really deserves alloy wheels. They are available on higher trims.
If you’re figuring a black hole of cheap plastics, roll-up windows and vinyl seats, you’ll be pleased with the Accent’s interior. The first thing that catches the eye is the bright and cheerful two-tone color scheme of black over beige, with beige door panels, underdash, and seat inserts making the interior light and inviting. Chrome-like trim in the interior also adds a little sophistication.
The design is crisp too, with a nice, chunky steering wheel with remote buttons, large clear analog gauges – even a touchscreen in the center console. On the SE model, that screen is only 5-inches, making it too small to handle Apple CarPlay (which you get on SEL and Limited’s 7-inch display), but decently large enough for the standard rearview monitor. Large easy-to-operate rotary dials, an easy-access USB port, and lots of storage – even 7 cupholders!
You do make some sacrifices at this price point. The plastics may look good, but they’re hard to the touch, and there’s no center armrest. Yes, we’ve become spoiled…
That said, you will be spoiled with other unexpected goodies, like height-adjustable driver’s seat, power windows, locks, and remote keyless entry (you’ll still need to use an ignition key), air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth – everything you need.
The front seats are comfy and well sized, and the rear seat will handle adults. Surprisingly, the trunk space is good with a large opening giving easy access. Folding down the rear seats – an easy job – creates an impressive amount of cargo space.
Honestly fun to drive
No one would expect a whole lot of driving dynamics out of the little Accent, but it’s a good steer.
The 1.6-liter, four cylinder pumps out a reasonable 130 hp and 119 lb-ft of torque. While it comes standard with a 6-speed manual (yes, a stick!), our tester had the optional 6-speed automatic transmission. It feels a little on the sleepy side until you find the Drive Mode button on the center console. Kick it into Sport Mode and the little guy wakes up, with crisp throttle response and quicker shifts that make it zippy around traffic. Fast, no, but lively and capable.
Handling is the same. The smaller wheels and tires aren’t the recipe for high-g turns, but the steering feel is quite good, and makes the Accent your ally in the cut-and-thrust of the daily commute.
While it’s fun for us enthusiasts, the smooth ride quality and relatively quiet interior make it a pleasant partner for the way most buyers will use it. And they will appreciate the excellent fuel economy. The EPA says a combined 32 mpg, and we got close to the 38-mpg rating on the highway. Thrifty!
In this segment, the dollars make the most sense, and the Accent is appealing. An Accent SE like our tester starts at $14,995 with manual transmission. Adding the automatic bumped us up to $15,995. With carpeted floor mats ($125), and destination ($885), our tester came in at $17,005.
Stepping up to the SEL will cost you $17,345, and gives you a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual USB charging, auto headlamps and 15-inch alloys. Going whole hog for the Limited model will add a power sunroof, proximity key with pushbutton start, forward collision avoidance assist, LED daytime running lights, 3-years of BlueLink connectivity and handsome 17-inch alloy wheels. Yours for $19,080.
Similarly-equipped competition for the hard-earned Accent SE buck includes the sibling Kia Rio ($16,445), Toyota Yaris iA ($17,480), and Honda Fit ($17,145). All nice vehicles. The Accent stands out for being a bit more grown-up, a bit more stylish.
Stylish, well-equipped, and comfortable, the 2019 Hyundai Accent proves that honesty is the best policy.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.