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2015 Hyundai Accent: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2015

The 2015 Hyundai Accent is pretty much the same car that debuted in 2012, but we're still charmed by how it feels like a bigger car than it really is. The ride is smooth, with less harshness over rough surfaces than some other subcompacts. There's adequate room for adults in the back seat, and the hatchback model's rear seatbacks fold down to yield a whopping 47.5 cu ft. of maximum cargo space. Cars like this are supposed to be basic transportation devices, but the 2015 Accent makes a case for itself as a substitute for a number of larger vehicles, especially in hatchback form.

Although it hasn't changed a lot, the Accent has received a couple of notable tweaks since 2012. Last year, it unfortunately lost its standard rear disc brakes when rear drums became standard on the GLS and GS trims, but in brighter news, the Accent gained an optional tilt-telescopic steering wheel for 2015. That's a relief for longer-legged drivers, even though the GLS and GS still come standard with a nontelescopic tilt wheel.

There are plenty of capable small cars vying for your monthly payment, so we recommend test-driving the competition before deciding. But if you're looking for a subcompact that acts like something more, make sure the 2015 Hyundai Accent is on your radar.

What's New for 2015?

The Accent gets revised front-end styling, and a new Sport trim level replaces the long-running SE trim, essentially carrying over the SE's feature content.

What We Like

Solid fuel economy; nice looks; pleasant ride quality; hatchback's impressive cargo capacity; usable back seat

What We Don't

Steering wheel doesn't telescope on all models; 4-wheel disc brakes aren't standard on all trims; crash-test scores aren't stellar

How Much?

$15,570-$17,205

Fuel Economy

Every Accent has front-wheel drive and is powered by a 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder rated at 137 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque. The available transmissions are a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic.

Fuel economy has an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 27 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission or 26 mpg city/37 mpg hwy with the automatic.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Hyundai Accent is offered as a sedan (GLS) or hatchback (GS and Sport).

The GLS sedan ($15,570) comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission, 14-inch steel wheels, front-disc/rear-drum anti-lock brakes, a height-adjustable driver's seat, heated outside mirrors, keyless entry, power accessories, air conditioning, a tilt-only steering wheel and a 6-speaker audio system with iPod/auxiliary audio connectivity.

If you get the optional automatic transmission on your Accent GLS, you can also opt for one of two equipment packages. The Popular Equipment package adds steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, cruise control, Bluetooth, a telescopic steering wheel and a sliding armrest storage box. The Style package includes the Popular Equipment package and adds 16-in alloy wheels, projector headlights with LED accents, rear disc brakes, fog lights, premium cloth upholstery and piano-black interior accents.

The GS hatchback ($15,820) features roughly the same standard equipment as the GLS sedan, but it's not eligible for the sedan's optional packages.

The Sport hatchback ($17,320) gets the items in the GLS model's Style package plus a rear spoiler, integrated turn signals in the side mirrors, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. A sunroof is optional.

Safety

The Accent comes with standard stability control and active front head restraints, as well as six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). All Accents come equipped with anti-lock brakes, but the GS and GLS trims come standard with less-advanced rear drum brakes, whereas the GLS Premium and Sport feature 4-wheel disc brakes.

In crash tests conducted by the government, the Accent scored four stars out of five across the board. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Accent its highest rating of Good in three of five impact categories, deeming it Acceptable (second-highest) for side impacts and Poor (worst of four) in the small-overlap front test.

Behind the Wheel

In our interior evaluation, we found the Accent's front seats to be comfortable enough, if rather soft (we wonder how they'll age). The standard tilt-only steering wheel likely won't work for long-legged drivers unless they like driving with their elbows locked. With the optional telescopic wheel installed, the Accent becomes more viable for the lanky crowd.

We have no complaints about the gauges, which look crisp and frame an attractive LCD trip computer in every Accent. The controls are mostly straightforward, and the 3-knob climate controls are a model of ergonomics. Materials quality is about average for this class, highlighted by the usual hard plastics (check out the related Kia Rio for a more inspired cabin).

We generally don't have high hopes for subcompacts in the technology department, and the Accent illustrates why. It's nice that you can get Bluetooth in the sedan, for example, but it costs extra, and it's not even available in the cheapest hatchback model, the GS. At least the 6-speaker stereo sounds decent and includes an iPod/USB hookup. If you keep those high-tech expectations low, you'll probably find the Accent satisfying enough.

The Accent's back seat is one of its strong suits, accommodating normal-sized adults with unusual ease. Cargo space is impressive across the board, ranging from 13.7 cu ft. in the sedan's trunk to 21.2 cu ft. behind the hatchback's back seat. Folding the rear seatbacks yields an enormous 47.5 cu ft., dwarfing the maximum cargo capacity of rivals such as the Sonic and Fiesta.

Under the hood, the little 4-cylinder remains quiet and reasonably well behaved even at high revolutions per minute, though it sometimes feels a bit short on energy for passing or merging. The automatic transmission will probably be the most popular choice, but it blunts the engine's performance. We recommend the more responsive manual if you can shift your own gears.

On the road, the Accent's compliant suspension makes for a fairly smooth ride, while the cabin is respectably quiet at highway speeds. Due to those soft underpinnings, however, the Accent isn't as entertaining in corners as the Sonic and Fiesta athletes. That may not bother you, but do pay close attention to the Accent's steering and see if it feels all right. We think that it's a little too light and numb for its own good.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Chevrolet Sonic -- The Sonic's optional turbocharged engine is one of the best in this class, but even the simplest Sonic boasts a comfortable ride along with responsive handling. Also, its motorcycle-inspired instrument panel is pretty nifty.

2015 Ford Fiesta -- The Fiesta seems lost in the shuffle these days, and that's not fair. Ford's subcompact is a pleasure to drive thanks to its Euro-inspired suspension, and it boasts strong fuel economy, too.

2015 Kia Rio -- If you want more style and character than the Accent offers, try its cousin from Kia. The Rio feels better from behind the wheel, and we like its attractive, good-quality cabin.

Used Hyundai Elantra GT -- The one-size-up Elantra GT is a Euro-market hatchback with a little more refinement than the Elantra sedan. A certified pre-owned example can be had for Accent money or less.

AutoTrader's Advice

We'd go with the Sport hatchback because we love its extra hauling capability and its smart-looking alloy wheels. It's a smart buy for not quite $2,000 more than the base GLS sedan.

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2015 Hyundai Accent: New Car Review - Autotrader