Along with a contemporary and upscale look, the all-new 2018 Hyundai Accent offers nimble urban handling, improved rear seat head room, and excellent fuel economy. But the latest iteration lacks a hatchback, is noisy at full-throttle acceleration, and automatic emergency braking is only available on the most expensive model.

Best Value

Starting at $15,880 for an SE equipped with a six-speed manual transmission and rising to $19,780 for the Limited model, all 2018 Accents are equipped with the same 130-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. The six-speed manual is standard on the SE, while an additional $1,000 gets you a six-speed automatic transmission that's standard on the mid-range SEL and top-level Limited.

Standard equipment on the base model – in addition to the usual power features – includes a five-inch infotainment touchscreen with Bluetooth, a rearview camera, a tilt steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, and remote keyless entry.

At $18,180, the SEL offers a larger seven-inch touchscreen with satellite radio, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay, 15-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, automatic headlights, heated outside mirrors, and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel. But it's the range-topping Limited that offers the best value proposition, as the $1,600 premium includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, heated front seats, a sunroof, projector headlights, and automatic climate control. No option packages are offered on any model, and all Accents come with Hyundai's five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty.

Here's how we'd build our Accent:

  • Model: 2018 Hyundai Accent Limited
  • Engine: 1.6-liter four-cylinder
  • Output: 130 hp / 119 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 28 City / 38 Hwy
  • Options: None
  • Base Price: $19,780 (including an $885 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price: $19,780

Performance

Hyundai Accent

With a curb weight of just 2,500 pounds in base trim, the Accent's modest 130 hp – down from last year – isn't the disappointment it appears to be on paper. Accelerating from zero to 60 mph happens in less than 10 seconds, the chassis feels nimble on city streets, and its small footprint makes zipping in and out of traffic easy and city parking a breeze. The suspension does a decent job absorbing minor bumps and road imperfections, steering is relatively light, and the brakes are easy to modulate. Finally, fuel economy from the 1.6-liter naturally-aspirated engine is excellent, with an EPA-estimated 28 miles per gallon city, 38 mpg highway, and 32 combined with the six-speed automatic.

At the same time, the Accent is built to a price point: the base model features less-efficient rear drum brakes, the narrow and mileage-friendly tires do the suspension no favors (especially during cornering), while ordinary speed bumps reveal the limitations of its torsion-beam rear suspension. In addition, the electric power steering, though light and well sorted for around-town duties, doesn’t track well, especially on-center, with a tendency to wander at highway speeds.

Style

Without the reference point of one of the brand's larger sedans, the 2018 Accent – with its all-new look – could easily be mistaken for an Elantra or possibly even a Sonata. It stands out in its class with a more sophisticated and upscale look. The resemblance is most apparent up front, where it wears Hyundai's signature hexagonal grille, bracketed by narrow headlights, a pair of fog light surrounds, and a more aggressive lower lip spoiler. The roofline is more drawn-out – terminating nearly at the edge of the deck lid – while the taillight enclosures are higher, narrower, and lit by LEDs.

The new exterior design is wrapped around a redesigned cabin that's quieter and offers space up front for two adults, and – courtesy of the new roofline – enough head room in back for two more. The trim, although executed in hard plastics, features nice grains and textures, while overall fit and finish is excellent. At this price point, we'd expect the simple knobs and gauges found here, but each one operates smoothly. Likewise, the infotainment software is simple and intuitive to use, while the trunk with its 13.7 cubic feet of storage is larger than that of the Cadillac ATS or Mercedes-Benz E-Coupe. The rear seats fold forward, revealing a large opening to the trunk – a configuration that allowed us to transport a 52cm road bike without having to remove the front wheel.

But the redesign also scraps the hatchback model, leaving just the sedan (although the Kia Rio hatchback is still offered). That's a big loss in versatility, as the hatchback offered an additional eight cubic feet of cargo space. Further, the knit upholstery lacks grip and seat bolsters are on the soft side, offering little resistance to lateral movements, while lumbar support is also poor. Finally, despite three seat belts, a like number of adults will find accommodations in back extremely tight.

The Best and Worst Things

In a class where boring is the norm, the Accent borrows styling cues from the upmarket Elantra and Sonata, offers a nimble ride, and comes with a host of features – especially on the Limited model.

At the same time, full-throttle drone is annoying, the versatile hatchback has been eighty-sixed, while automatic emergency braking is absent on SE and SEL models.

Right For? Wrong For?

Hyundai Accent

In Limited trim, the nimble and affordable Hyundai Accent offers single or first-time buyers a compelling answer to the new-or-used question.

The limited number of advanced safety features on even the most expensive model could prove to be a turn off to safety-conscious buyers looking for value.

The Bottom Line

Although unavailable as a hatchback, noisy at full throttle, and lacking a number of advanced safety features, the all-new 2018 Hyundai Accent is a nimble urban handler. It's well equipped in Limited trim, has great fuel economy and an excellent warranty, and offers a strong value proposition.