Launched in 1994, the Hyundai Accent is an “entry level” subcompact sedan that looks like it could fit in the compact car category. The 2018 Accent, the fifth generation of the little car launched in 1994, is longer and wider than the generation it replaces.
Using a tape measure, the Accent isn’t that much bigger than the outgoing version – a little more than an inch wider and about a half-inch longer – but the Accent sure feels bigger than a subcompact sedan.
Hyundai invited automotive journalists to Nevada for a sneak peek at the new Accent, which will be arriving in dealerships later this month. I eased my 6-foot-1 frame into the driver’s seat of the car, accompanied by friend and Arizona auto journalist Joe Sage, who is about my size. Then for good measure, Hyundai’s Brandon Ramirez hopped into the back seat to tag along for the ride.
After about four hours through the Nevada desert and out to Hoover Dam, we three amigeauxs got out of the car no worse for the wear. None of us felt cramped inside the Accent cabin. In fact, I got out of the car thinking I could have gone a lot farther. I’m not sure that would have been the case had we been in some other subcompact cars.
Officially front seat legroom is 42.1 inches, and in the rear it’s 33.5 inches. Headroom in front is 38.9 inches and in the back, it’s 37.3 inches. But they’re some comfortable inches indeed.
Interior volume is 90.2 cubic feet, which is considerably larger than some of the Accent’s competitors. Cargo volume is 13.7 feet, which is also more than the competition.
The 2018 Accent is a pretty sharp looking car too. Some compact vehicles look like a bubble or like stubby versions of larger sedans. Not the Accent. It’s got a sleek look with a new cascading grille that Hyundai says was copied after the vessels that pour liquid metal into molds. It has a sculpted body and a sweeping roofline that makes it look like a larger sedan.
The three trim levels that will be offered for 2018 include the base SE, SEL and Limited.
The cabin is driver-oriented, with intuitive controls and durable materials. The armrests could use a little more soft touch material, but the seats were very comfortable on the long test drive in the desert.
For 2018, the new Accent gets an updated powertrain: a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 130 horsepower and 119 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic.
Final numbers are not yet in, but Hyundai believes fuel efficiency has also been improved by about seven percent overall. The company expects the Accent will be rated somewhere around 28 miles per gallon in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg combined.
Accents with automatic transmissions include the company’s Drive Mode Select feature to adjust both powertrain performance and steering calibration. The driver can select either normal or sport driving modes, and there’s actually a noticeable difference between the two.
The Accent has not yet been safety tested, but Hyundai expects good safety scores from the government as well as the insurance industry. The 2017 Accent did well in every category in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests except the difficult driver’s side small overlap front test.
A six-airbag system is standard, along with anti-lock brakes and all the required electronic stability and traction control systems. The 2018 Accent also offers a wide array of advanced safety technologies, including an available forward collision avoidance system that can detect a vehicle and warn the driver of an impending collision. If the driver does not react to avoid the impact, the system will apply emergency braking.
When it comes to connectivity technology, the new Accent gets Hyundai’s enhanced Blue Link system with a standard 5-inch color touchscreen. An available 7-inch display audio system comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There’s also an available hand-free smart trunk release, available heated front seats, automatic climate control and dual USB charging ports.
2018 Hyundai Accent
6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual
Not yet announced
Manufacturer mileage estimates:
28 mpg city/38 mpg highway/32 mpg combined
Estimated highway range: