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2018 Hyundai Accent: First Drive Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer Hyundai Accent, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Hyundai Accent Review

Say hello to the 2018 Hyundai Accent, an all-new generation of subcompact sedan. And we use the term "subcompact" loosely. In the accepted way of things, the larger Elantra is Hyundai’s official compact contender, in competition with cars like the Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla. The Accent goes up against rivals like the Nissan Versa and Ford Fiesta. However, because of its generous interior volume, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) puts it one size above. But that’s all good.

The upshot is a car with pricing and fuel economy more appropriate to the subcompact class, but still with plenty of occupant space. But the good news doesn’t end there — the 2018 Accent has plenty more going for it as well, such as a quiet cabin, comfortable seats and a conventional automatic transmission instead of a cost-cutting and sluggish continuously variable transmission (CVT). What might be quite shocking to some is that while previous generations of the Accent have been more like punishment than pleasure for a driver, the new fifth generation banishes those miserable memories. See the 2018 Hyundai Accent models for sale near you

External Effect

Hyundai says its designers have done a good job on the new Accent. That’s because they’ve already done the same job on the Elantra, with that hexagonal grille and generic profile. What the company probably meant was that the stylists managed to create a pleasant-looking car of balanced proportions around a relatively large passenger compartment while still respecting the constraints of the subcompact class. It’s just over half an inch longer and a little more than an inch wider than its predecessor. 

Inner Thoughts

A similar taste for the generic is evident in the cabin — nothing out of the ordinary regarding the shapes and layout. That’s hardly cause for criticism, though. Hyundai makes decent cars with a broad appeal, and this is how it’s accomplished. We’ll overlook the hard plastic on the tops of the dashboard and doors, because we all look over them and concentrate on the road anyway, and it doesn’t lower the tone.

A big positive is how comfortable and well-shaped the front seats are, easily bearable for a long day’s driving. And space in the rear is acceptable as long as the passengers are under six feet tall. Trunk space is 13.7 cu ft. — quite good for a subcompact sedan.

Combustion Commentary

There’s one engine in the Accent range, a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder unit that makes 130 horsepwer and 119 lb-ft of torque. Drive goes to the front wheels. For what it needs to do, it’s an adequate amount of muscle, delivered in a smooth-enough manner.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 28 miles per gallon city, 38 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined. That’s using the 6-speed automatic transmission (which is optional in the basic trim, but standard in the two higher trims). The 6-speed manual transmission achieves 28 mpg city/37 mpg hwy/31 mpg combined.

Travel Application

The quiet cabin has already been mentioned, but it’s so remarkable that it’s worth saying twice. By combining this attribute with a composed yet pliant suspension and steering that actually feels agreeable (not too light, not too heavy), the new Accent asserts itself as a prince among subcompacts.

Bottom Lines

The 2018 Hyundai Accent starts at $15,880. That’s pretty much where the outgoing generation was priced. Trim levels are SE, SEL and Limited. There aren’t many options. The SE comes with a 6-speed manual transmission as standard, but offers a 6-speed automatic. Buyers who want more equipment are obliged to look at the higher two trims. SE is a bit basic, with tilt-only adjustment for the steering wheel, drum brakes at the rear and no central armrest. But it does have a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines.

At SEL level (from $18,180), the steering will also adjust for reach, 15-in alloy wheels and the 6-speed automatic transmission are fitted, while Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a 7-in infotainment screen, automatic headlights, rear brake discs, a pair of USB ports and heated side mirrors are part of the package. Even if buyers are working with a smallish budget, we would still recommend stretching for this one over the SE.

The Limited trim (from $19,780) has 17-in alloy wheels, a sunroof, keyless entry/ignition, heated front seats, hands-free trunk opening and forward-collision mitigation. It also comes with a 3-year subscription to Hyundai Blue Link Connected Services, which includes remote start with temperature control, remote lock/unlock, stolen vehicle location and several other features. The latest Blue Link development is that it now obeys voice commands through Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa.

While some rivals offer trunked or hatchback versions, the Accent is solely a 4-door sedan. The previous generation offered both body styles, but Hyundai must know where the greatest demand lies. The 2018 Honda Fit hatchback offers more interior versatility, maximizing its minimal footprint, but if the next new-car purchase has to be a small sedan, then the 2018 Accent is almost a no-brainer.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

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