If you just need a car–not a lust object, not a catapult into the next zip code–the 2018 Hyundai Accent is just a car. Four wheels, four doors, four-plus seats, and a warranty.
But it’s better than that.
The new Accent doesn’t pile up a lot of extra points in the process, but as we evaluate cars for styling, performance, comfort, safety, features, and fuel economy, it scores out just above average, at 5.4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Review continues below
In SE, SEL, or Limited trim, the 2018 Hyundai Accent delivers the small-car virtues that first-time and budget buyers prize, and bundles them with an excellent warranty.
The Accent doesn’t don a dramatic shape. It’s a stablemate to the bigger Elantra and Sonata and looks it, to an eerie Audi-like extent. The six-sided grille, the drape of its roofline, the screen-forward contour of the cabin all mimic the larger sedans in the family, which promises good things for other Accent aspects. (The hatchback model, though, has been trimmed from the Accent tree, while the related Kia Rio retains both body styles.)
A 130-horsepower inline-4 grunts out enough power to scoot the 2,500-pound Accent in and out of traffic, the surface street kind or otherwise. Merges and stoplights can require a foot to the floor, and in that throttle position the Accent gets thrashy. Its 6-speed automatic shifts assertively only when it’s put into a Sport drive mode. Ride quality is somewhat absorbent on decent roads; speed bumps put the Accent into a more foul mood.
The Accent can carry four adults, with front head and leg room put in priority position. The seats aren’t particularly supportive but the driving position is agreeable. Tall back-seat passengers will have to finagle their feet through small-ish doors, but their space is fine, too, and the Accent’s trunk has more cubic feet on tap than a Caddy ATS.
Hyundai gives every Accent a rearview camera, but automatic emergency braking only comes on the Limited trim level. For our purposes that becomes the only model we’d recommend; it also comes with heated seats, 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Accent skips navigation, leather, power seats, and other nice things, but for less than $20,000 it‘s good enough to steer some buyers clear of the used-car conundrum.