Monday, April 23, 2018


The Hyundai Accent moves into its fifth generation with the introduction of the 2018 model with the big change being the elimination of the hatchback version of this well-equipped and under-appreciated economy car.

The Accent is now available only in sedan form, but that should serve the market well.

Though Hyundai vehicles like the Sonata sedan, Veloster coupe, and Santa Fe SUV are splashier, there possibly is no better example of just how far the South Korean automaker has come over the last 30-plus years since its debut in the U.S. than the Accent.

It wasn’t the first model the company brought here. That would be the Excel, which got off to an impressive start with nearly 169,000 sold in its first year here (1986) but soon faded when its flaws and weaknesses in quality made it the butt of jokes.

The Accent made its debut nearly a decade later and soon after began a product resurgence that continues today for the company’s output. Results of J.D Power’s Initial Quality Study for 2017 motor vehicles showed Hyundai ranking in the Top 10 and well above the industry average, trailing its countryman and No. 1 Kia but finishing ahead of its Asian rivals Toyota/Lexus, Honda/Acura, and Nissan/Infiniti.

Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury offshoot, ranked second with only 77 problems per 100 vehicles to Kia’s 72 and parent Hyundai’s 88 score. The industry average for 2017 was 97 within the first 90 days of ownership covering such areas as seats, engine/transmission, features and controls, exterior and interior, heating and air conditioning, and audio/communication/entertainment/navigation.

To get back to the Accent, Hyundai made the 2018 version slightly larger, 172.6 inches long and 68.1 wide to the 2017 model’s 172.0/66.9 numbers to give it more interior volume. Its 103.9 cubic feet actually puts it into the compact rather than the subcompact class, according to the federal government standards.

But more important, designers gave the cabin a classier feel despite the generous use of hard plastic materials, and they filled it with a plethora of features not usually found as standard in the segment.

The top-of-the-line Limited trim gets touches like a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, heated front seats, 7-inch touchscreen audio display, satellite radio (with 90-day trial subscription), Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Hyundai’s Blue Link connective services, push-button start, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, automatic climate control, and more included in the base MSRP of $18,895.

That price also includes safety features like brake assist, rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, forward collision avoidance, and blind-spot as well as items like projection headlamps and LED taillights, power sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, and Hyundai’s well-known 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty.

Getting its 2,679 pounds moving is a 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine that is rated at 130 horsepower and 119 pound-feet of torque. No, that’s not a lot of punch, but that is somewhat mitigated by fuel mileage figures of 28 miles-per-gallon city, 38 highway, and 32 overall. That’s not the best in its class, but it puts the Accent among the leaders.

The standard transmission on the Limited and SEL trims is a 6-speed automatic that has manual gear selection capability. The base SE model has a 6-speed manual as standard with the automatic as an option. Fuel numbers for the manual are 28/37.

Though the Accent isn’t likely to win many drag races (if you’re into that sort of thing), it’s not a bad driver, and the ride is smooth and quiet. It’s far from being boring on city streets, and you won’t be intimated in expressway traffic.

Getting as much out of a less-than-$20,000 car as you do with the Accent is a reward in itself. And the SE starts at under $15,000 with the manual and under $16,000 with the automatic. The SEL has a starting price of $17,295.

What I liked about the 2018 Hyundai Accent Limited: It has a nice array of technological features that are easy to operate. The front seats offer up to 42.1 inches of legroom, and the trunk is 13.7 cubic feet, good for a sedan in its segment.

What I didn’t like about the 2018 Hyundai Accent Limited: The backseat is snug, as you might expect, with 33.5 inches of legroom. I’d like to see a little more out of the performance, but then, that wouldn’t be what you’re looking for in this segment.

Would I buy the 2018 Hyundai Accent Limited? Yes. It’s tough to beat what the Accent has to offer in an economical package. 

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