2018 Accent New Car Test Drive
The 2017 Hyundai Accent subcompact sedan and hatchback offer a good value, but are now in the sixth year of their generation. Fortunately, the styling still holds up and it gets excellent fuel mileage. The Accent hatchback offers more room than almost anything for the money,
Acceleration performance is adequate for everyday commuting but lackluster, especially with the automatic. Handling is predictable but not notable. The Accent can ride roughly, like rivals with short wheelbases.
It's powered by a direct-injection 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 138 horsepower, mated to a standard 6-speed manual gearbox with a light clutch; this transmission gives the best acceleration, fuel mileage, and enjoyment. The available and more common 6-speed automatic shifts smoothly but reduces get-up-and-go, even with Sport mode and manual control.
The Accent got a light facelift for 2015, but this fourth-generation design dates back to a 2011 model. A redesign is expected soon.
Fuel mileage is EPA-rated at 27 mpg City, 37 Highway, and 31 Combined with the manual transmission, or one less mpg with the automatic. It used to be that manuals always got better fuel mileage than automatics, but nowadays that's opposite. However not so, here. Which is an indication that the automatic transmission, although smooth, isn't as efficient and modern as others. (That said, the new automatics, especially the 9-speeds, can be jerky.)
In the Accent, the automatic has an ActiveEco button that triggers early upshifts to improve gas mileage, while the manual gearbox uses an eco shift light that flashes at the shift point for the best fuel mileage. Assuming the EPA uses the driving technique for maximum mileage, the moral to the story must be that humans win over computers. When they listen to the computers.
The Accent doesn't score so high in safety tests, with four stars overall from the NHTSA, with a comment saying the left rear door was a weak spot, as impact there injured the crash-test dummy. Still, the Accent got mostly top Good ratings from the IIHS, with Acceptable in side impact, and Poor in the difficult small frontal overlap test. Six airbags and active headrests are standard. Warranty is five years or 60,000 miles.
The 2017 Hyundai Accent comes in SE Sedan ($14,745), Value Edition Sedan ($16,450), SE Hatchback ($14,995), and Sport Hatchback ($17,495) models. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge. All models are front-wheel drive with 1.6-liter engine.
Accent SE includes power windows, locks, and mirrors; air conditioning; heated mirrors; AM/FM/XM/CD player with USB port; and keyless entry. The SE Hatchback adds a rear defroster, 172-watt sound system with satellite radio and iPod connectivity. Cruise control and Bluetooth are available, but leather, navigation, sunroof or rearview camera are not.
Accent Sport Hatchback gets 16-inch wheels; sport-tuned steering; fog lamps; a sliding armrest; and special trim.