Hyundai’s mid-size Sonata sedan and Santa Fe crossover have impressed car buyers with their roomy interiors, contemporary style, and full load of creature comforts. But, you don’t have to spend a lot to get all of that. Check out the Accent, Hyundai’s entry-level, but not entry-status sub-compact.
As with the bigger vehicles, Accent flaunts Hyundai’s “Fluidic Sculpture” design philosophy. Forms are intended to be futuristic, but also with crispness. Swept-back headlamps, arched roofline, high decklid, and low facias enable a 0.30 coefficient of drag—quite good for a compact car. GLS and SE models are available with 16-inch alloy wheels, but hubcaps over 14-inch steel wheels are standard on base models.
Inside, the arched roofline contributes to plenty of human space. A twin-cockpit dash, cool blue lighting, power windows, split/fold rear seats, CD player, and available satellite radio keep everybody smiling. Silver finishes on the doors and black piano gloss around the notched gear selector give a sense of luxury. Controls click precisely into place and the shift knob feels heavy and substantial. Our test car had canvas seats, but they should wear well, repel dirt, and remain supportive.
Nobody will race a Genesis coupe with the Accent, but its 138 horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder, connected to a six-speed automatic transmission, does not birth sloth either. Fuel economy ratings of 28/37 mpg city/highway are reasonable for a non-hybrid. An Active ECO system can be enabled to modify engine and transmission control, smooth out throttle response, and deliver a 7 percent increase in fuel economy. The suspension is a simple, independent, front/torsion beam rear affair, but it and a stiff body structure absorb road rash and semi-plowed rough without shaking the interior apart. Overall, the car is peppy and pleasant.
If you want an expensive, glamorous car, buy a Hyundai Equus. However, if you need reliable transportation that never feels cheap, get the Accent. An as-tested price of $16,340 including an automatic transmission makes it a great value. Competitors include the Ford Fiesta, Chevy Sonic, Toyota Yaris, and Honda Fit.