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2019 Hyundai Accent Review

The 2019 Hyundai Accent pleasantly reminds us that four-door sedans used to rule the economy-car roost—and did so for a reason.
Do you want a new car? The 2019 Hyundai Accent is just a car, and its appeal lies entirely in its devotion to the basics.

It has a decent set of standard features, acceptable performance, and enough interior space, but the 2019 Accent shows up every day for work, backed by a superlative warranty.

It won’t catapult you into the next ZIP code at launch, won’t satisfy some vague notion of “cool,” but it’ll get the transportation job done, and it won’t whine about it. Much.

We give the 2019 Accent a rating that sets the midline for all our car ratings. It’s a 5.2 out of 10, perfectly middle of the road on our charts. 

The 2019 Hyundai Accent—whether it’s an SE, SEL, or Limited—puts a strong family resemblance to work. It’s a happy homage to the bigger Sonata and Elantra. Its six-sided grille, eager stance, and roofline drape don’t mind if you compare them to Audi’s lines. The cabin’s a straight-up knock-off of the bigger Hyundais and that’s a good place to be.

The Accent weighs about 2,500 pounds, and with just 130 horsepower issuing from a 1.6-liter inline-4, it needs to stay trim. Foot to the floor, it manages acceptable highway passes but gets thrashy. Its 6-speed automatic deliberates before it shifts cleanly, but a Sport function clears its head. The Accent rides with decent absorbency, but like any short-wheelbase car with a strut and torsion-beam suspension, it takes a second to recover from craters and speed bumps.

Four adults fit easily inside the Accent, and head room in particular suits taller passengers. The seats don’t have much in the way of bolsters and the fabric would rather slide than grip. The rear doors don’t allow for graceful entry and exit but the back seat itself can hold two adults, or fold down to open more space from the Accent’s large trunk.

The current Accent has performed reasonably well in IIHS testing, but the NHTSA hasn’t crashed one yet. Only the Accent Limited can be fitted with automatic emergency braking, which makes it the only trim we recommend. It comes with heated seats, a sunroof, LED headlights, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and 17-inch wheels. Leather upholstery, navigation, and power seats are off the features list entirely, but at $20,000 the Accent Limited steps in where expensive used cars sit idle on dealer lots.

The 2019 Hyundai Accent blends right in with its bigger siblings.
Hyundai wraps the 2019 Accent in graceful sheet metal that flows from nose to tail just like the shapes of its bigger Elantra and Sonata sedans. We like the way it blends a hatchback-like roofline with a distinct trunklid, and carves out good interior space while it avoids the usual small-car styling pitfalls.

We give it a 5 for styling.

Compared to its siblings, the Accent’s a me-too effort, one we give a quiet golf-clap. There’s everything to admire in Hyundai’s four-door sedan philosophy, from the gentle wedge in the profile, to the grilles that border on ostentatious but don’t trip over the line.

The Accent falls in lockstep. It lifts a lot of those cues from the Elantra and Sonata, and finds a way to make them work on a substantially shorter body. Its headlights and grille pucker at the front, and resolve well in agreeable proportions. The body flares slightly around the wheels, while the roofline drapes over a longer, more drawn-out body than in Accents past. The LED taillights on the Accent Limited would fit perfectly on an Elantra, they’re shaped so similarly.

There’s no longer an Accent hatchback, since Hyundai sells Velosters and Tucsons and Konas, too.

Inside, the Accent matches the interiors of those other four-doors with good small-car grace. What’s there is simply divided into pods for gauges, climate controls, and a touchscreen. There’s not much room for some of the undulations or any spare dash real estate, really. Even though it’s mostly rendered in hard plastics, the Accent’s cabin bears the marks of good taste in color combinations, grains and textures. Most versions have a small 5.0-inch color touchscreen for their audio interface, but Limiteds get a 7.0-inch screen.

The Accent’s performance underscores anything bigger or more expensive, but among economy cars, it fares well.
Small economy cars rarely fare well in performance ratings. Handling and power are sorted for gas mileage and commuter duty, not for maximum lateral grip or low 0-60 mph times.

The 2019 Accent has near-optimal bits for the kind of role it’s meant to fill, but on our more objective scale, it’s a 3, with a point deducted each for steering feel and ride quality.

The 2019 Accent draws power from a 1.6-liter inline-4. It’s not the turbocharged version Hyundai sells in sporty Velosters or bigger Elantra and Sonata sedans. This engine delivers just 130 hp and 119 lb-ft of torque, and it does so with a lingering, droning noise when it’s pressed to its limits. It might be able to hit 60 mph in 10 seconds, with the right solo driver and no luggage—it weighs just about 2,500 pounds, the equivalent of a first-year 1990 Mazda Miata with a driver on board.

It’s joined in its plebeian duty by a 6-speed automatic that’s mapped out to match economy-car chores. It shifts reasonably quickly, slightly faster when its Sport mode is engaged. That switch does force the Accent’s automatic to commit to a gear change; when in Normal mode, the gearbox gets more indecisive, and puts off shifts until hammered on. We haven’t driven the 6-speed manual offered on base models.

Accents sport a strut front and a torsion-beam rear suspension. The combination’s capable of settling down the car on the more rudely paved stretches of road at middling speeds, but the same Accent that has 15-inch wheels and rear drum brakes in base trim has 17-inch wheels and all-disc brakes in Limited form, the model we’ve driven. We can’t vouch for those thinly tired base models, and still think Honda’s Fit has a lock on ride quality in this niche, but the Accent settles down quickly after it passes over major road cracks. It can’t smother them, but it can deal with them.

The Accent’s steering needs a finer sense of the road. It wanders, and it doesn’t track well at highway speeds. Roads with lots of crown in the surface tend to aggravate the lack of attention; the high-economy tires don’t help much. That said, the Accent still has a light, nimble touch when it’s threaded through country roads at a moderate pace. It’s designed to handle well on roads you’d find inside city limits, not outside them, and deserves a kudo or two for what it does best.

Comfort & Quality
No apologies: the smallest Hyundai sedan can seat four in comfort.
If you carry people, but don’t want a big car or a crossover SUV, you’re likely still reading this review. Good for you, because the 2019 Hyundai Accent does a fine job of carrying four adults in a cabin that leaves no one overcrowded, and leaves no traces of cheap or spartan trim.

The Accent’s fine for four adults, and offers good storage space.

We think it’s a 5 for comfort and quality, straight-up average, but a real victory for a car that costs less than $20,000. 
The current Accent sits on a 101.6-inch wheelbase, and checks in at 172.6 inches long. Its footprint may be small, but Hyundai’s found a way to extract every square inch of cabin space and cargo storage from it.

Head room impresses for front passengers, and the Accent lays out good knee and elbow room. The height-adjustable front seats grants 6-foot-tall front passengers plenty of space to slip in beneath a standard sunroof on Limited trims. Accent SEL and Limited sedans also have tilt/telescope for the steering, which lets just about any driver find a good view of the road and the controls. At the same time, the seats themselves wear a middle grade of fabric that doesn’t offer much grip, and the seats don’t bolster the driver in place much.

Front-seat passengers get storage for their smartphones in the front console near a USB port, and the console itself has a sliding top. The door pockets can fit larger drink bottles, and the handles themselves are shallow bins that can accept a wallet or a phone, when you scramble for a mocha at the drive-through.

The Accent has a large trunk, by any measure, bigger than the one found in a Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe or a Cadillac ATS. Its rear seats fold down to accept 6-foot-long parcels.

When they’re raised, the back seats offer comfort for two bigger passengers or three smaller ones. Small door openings require a bit of foot navigation, but the rear seat has good head room.

The Accent’s finishes and trims put hard plastic almost everywhere, but rarely has the stuff looked this good. It’s of a quality look on par with Hyundai’s bigger sedans, and only registers inexpensive notes when it’s tapped with a fingernail. The Accent’s engine sounds raspy when it’s run hard, but for the price, it’s practically hushed.

The Hyundai Accent limits the best safety features to its top model.
Only some crash-test data for the Hyundai Accent is available, but its 6 out of 10 rating is promising. 

The current Accent has been tested by the IIHS. The insurance industry-funded group says the sedan’s worth a Top Safety Pick nod; if it had better than “Acceptable” performance for passenger-side small-overlap protection and better headlights, it might earn the agency’s top award.

The NHTSA hasn’t published test results for the Accent.

While other companies have put standard automatic emergency braking on their smallest cars—Toyota—the Hyundai Accent only offers the feature on the most expensive Accent Limited. Other features such as surround-view camera systems and blind-spot monitors aren’t even available. That said, the Accent offers good outward vision for the driver, thanks to its light and airy roofline.

Hyundai’s excellent warranty rises above less complete safety gear.
With the latest Accent Hyundai’s upgraded the standard features of its entry-level sedan. It also offers an excellent 5-year, 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

That said, the Accent doesn’t have any options from which to choose, and leather upholstery and navigation are no-shows on every model.

We give it a 6 out of 10.

Base Hyundai Accent SE sedans carry a sticker price of about $16,000, and come with a 6-speed manual transmission, cloth upholstery, 15-inch wheels, power windows/locks/mirrors, keyless entry, a height-adjustable driver seat, tilt steering, split-fold rear seatbacks, Bluetooth, USB ports, a 5-inch color touchscreen and AM/FM/CD audio with 4 speakers, steering-wheel audio and phone controls, cruise control, and air conditioning. An automatic 6-speed transmission costs $1,000; it’s standard on all other models.

The Accent SEL costs a little more than $18,000, and gets telescoping steering, automatic headlights, a 7-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, and two more speakers.

At nearly $20,000, the Hyundai Accent Limited ticks off the boxes for automatic emergency braking, 17-inch wheels, LED taillights, keyless ignition, a sunroof, front seat heaters, and a handsfree trunk opener. Based on its safety features unavailable on any other model, it’s the one we’d choose.

Fuel Economy
The 2019 Hyundai Accent puts gas mileage at the top of its to-do list.
With the Accent, Hyundai posts very good fuel economy ratings—though its bigger sedans do even better, thanks to their more slippery aerodynamics.

The 2019 Accent merits a 6 here. 

The EPA rates the 2019 Accent slightly higher than it does the very similar Kia Rio. Accents are pegged at 28 mpg city, 37 highway, 31 combined when configured with a manual gearbox. Kia’s Rio has a rating one mile per gallon lower on both the city and highway numbers with its manual. The automatic-equipped Accent sports EPA figures of 28/38/32 mpg. The Rio’s lower by 1 mpg on the highway cycle. Tires and transmission logic account for the differences.

The Accent isn’t the best in its family, though. Mid-size Sonata sedans can earn 31 mpg combined even without their available hybrid systems, and the Elantra’s rated at up to 35 mpg combined.

Competitors such as the Honda Fit (36 mpg combined) and Nissan Versa (34 mpg combined) outpace the Accent as well.



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