After undergoing a total makeover last year, the 2019 Hyundai Accent arrives with only some minor cosmetic updates, making a great looking small car look even better. Compact on the outside but roomy on the inside, the Accent’s combination of features, price and fuel economy make it an ideal first car, or secondary commuter. And, with its long 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, it also makes a great off-to-college car when the time comes to hand it down.
As with its larger siblings, the Accent looks far more expensive than it actually is. The new Accent is also significantly larger than rivals like the Toyota Yaris and the Chevrolet Sonic, yet Hyundai continues to call it a subcompact. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however, took one look at the new Accent’s massive interior volume and promptly moved it up a notch to the compact car class.
Unlike many competitors, the Accent shuns the power-sapping use of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) in favor of a traditional 6-speed automatic. This decision makes the Accent more responsive to throttle input, yet sees no significant penalty in the way of fuel economy. A 6-speed manual remains an option for that dying breed that still enjoys shifting gears.
What’s New for 2019?
The 2019 Hyundai Accent carries over with only minor changes. The SE trim gains a chrome grille, the SEL gets fog lights and chrome beltline moldings, and the Limited is outfitted with LED headlights. See the 2019 Hyundai Accent models for sale near you
What We Like
Expressive styling; large rear seat and trunk; advanced features like Apple CarPlay and a foot-activated trunk; comfortable front seats; lots of bang for the buck
What We Don’t
Only one body style offered (no hatchback); autonomous braking only offered on most expensive trim; manual transmission only offered on the least expensive trim; no high-end audio option
The Hyundai Accent is powered by a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 130 horsepower. When equipped with the 6-speed manual, the Accent returns fuel economy figures of 28 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Opt for the 6-speed automatic, and those figures change to 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
For 2019, the Accent is offered only as a 4-door sedan in three trim levels: SE, SEL and Limited.
The Accent SE ($15,880) comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, a 5-in color touchscreen with 4-speaker audio and CD player, a rearview camera plus steering wheel controls for audio, cruise control and Bluetooth. Also standard are cloth seats, a manual 6-way adjustable driver’s seat, power door locks with remote keyless entry, air conditioning, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, power mirrors, power windows, sliding sun visors and 15-in steel wheels with covers. The only option for the SE is a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The Accent SEL ($18,180) adds a 6-speed automatic transmission, a 7-in display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, fog lights, 15-in alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, heated outside mirrors, automatic headlights, dual USB charging ports, driver’s side auto-up window and a driver’s blind spot mirror.
The Accent Limited ($19,780) adds forward-collision warning, 17-in alloy wheels, proximity key with push button start, heated front seats, a power sunroof, LED daytime running lights, LED headlights, LED rear taillights, a hands-free Smart Trunk with auto open, automatic climate control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The Limited also features three years of complimentary Blue Link Connected Services. Hyundai Blue Link Connected Services includes remote start with temperature control, remote lock/unlock, stolen vehicle location and several other features. The system can also accept voice commands through Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa.
The Accent offers 90.2 cu ft. of passenger volume and a 13.7 cu ft. trunk.
The 2019 Accent comes loaded with standard safety features including antilock brakes, electronic traction and stability control, a rearview camera, front and front side-impact airbags plus active front head restraints, a tire pressure monitoring system and emergency trunk release. The SEL adds a driver’s blind spot mirror and rear disc brakes, while Limited trims come with automatic emergency braking.
To date, the government has not crash tested the 2019 Accent, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has and gives it a Top Safety Pick award.
Behind the Wheel
Despite its small size and bargain-basement pricing, the 2019 Accent doesn’t drive like a small car, and its ride and handling are a vast improvement over the previous generation. The Accent’s comfortable front seats permit long hours behind the wheel without the aches or fatigue that usually accompany cars of this class. Rear seat comfort is also good, with plentiful legroom when you stretch out.
On the road, the little 1.6-liter engine does an acceptable job with acceleration, providing good low-speed sprints necessary for merging with traffic or darting across intersections. Regrettably, the same cannot be said when it comes time to pass cars at higher speeds. The 6-speed automatic in our test car worked efficiently and never showed signs of lag or delay when we needed it to upshift. A Sport mode feature helps improve throttle response by holding off shifts until the tachometer has moved higher in the rev band. We’d leave the car in Sport mode most of the time, as it delivers the best performance without a noticeable decline in fuel economy.
You’ll find the Accent’s road manners rather appealing. The ride is soft yet controlled, the steering effortless without being numb or vague and the brakes strong (we tested a model with discs at all four corners). However, push the Accent too hard, and its tires will howl. A solid torsion beam rear axle permits the car to become somewhat unsettled on rough or broken pavement.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Nissan Versa –The Versa offers a lower base price, a larger trunk, better fuel economy plus a hatchback model (Versa Note), but it’s nowhere near as refined, powerful or feature-rich as the Accent.
2019 Honda Fit — Offered only in hatchback form, the Fit offers a more versatile cargo bay, better fuel economy and a more playful exterior. Additional safety features like adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist are not available on the Accent.
2019 Chevrolet Sonic — The Sonic offers sporty handling, a turbocharged engine and choice of hatchback or sedan.
Used Hyundai Elantra — A 2014-2017 Hyundai Elantra offers more room, more power and more features without a substantial penalty in fuel economy or monthly payment. Buy a Certified Pre-Own model and Hyundai reinstates the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
If you don’t live in a place that requires heated seats or mirrors, the base SE is pretty nicely equipped and is the only model that gives you a choice between manual or automatic transmission. However, moving up to the SEL gives you Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which for people addicted to their smartphones might just be worth the additional $3,000. The Limited’s collision avoidance technology is nice, but not very comprehensive. If you’re looking at spending $20,000 on a subcompact with the latest driver assists, we’d go with a Honda Fit. Find a Hyundai Accent for sale