Fresh from the factory. If what you’re looking for is a new car, the 2020 Hyundai Accent is one of the cheaper ways to get the job done. It’s about as basic as they come, but that’s sometimes a good thing.

The Accent is petite, made to squeeze into tight city parking spots. All the same, it wears Hyundai’s hexagonal grille well. It’s not as gregarious as the brand’s crossover lineup, but it’s handsome enough for an economy car.

One of the Accent’s best features comes because of its newness: Hyundai’s five-year/60,000-mile warranty. As the cheapest way into a Hyundai, the Accent is a budget buy in a value-oriented brand.

Newly efficient, still slow. The biggest change for the 2020 Accent is a new engine. Instead of the old car’s 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder, the new one has a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder. Hyundai assures us that much has changed, with better heat management and fuel injection contributing to better fuel efficiency.

A larger contributor is the new continuously variable transmission (CVT), which replaces the old automatic gearbox. Regardless of the cause, the new Accent with the CVT improves to an impressive 36 miles per gallon combined, according to the EPA.

Unfortunately, the efficiency gain is offset by a loss in power. The Accent is down to 120 horsepower, and the engine rasps when pushed hard.

Many subcompact cars reconcile low power with tossable handling, but the Accent fails to do so. Handling is lifeless, without much information transmitted from the road to the wheel. Ride quality is reasonable, but the Accent’s small wheelbase makes it easy to unsettle over bumps in the road.


Hyundai Palisade

Spacious, but not necessarily comfortable. In the Hyundai’s favor, it manages an impressive amount of interior space for a subcompact sedan. That starts in the trunk, where the Accent can fit 13.7 cubic feet of cargo. That’s more than a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, an impressive feat for such a small car.

The Accent’s double-bubble roof makes for good headroom. Height-adjustable seating means that adults can co-exist in the front and rear, and the interior has lots of useful storage nooks.

Not everything is rosy. The seats are thinly bolstered, and small rear doors make ingress and egress more challenging than usual. The cloth upholstery feels cheap, and hard plastics cover most surfaces.

These things are par for the course among economy sedans, and the Accent pulls them together with a feeling of reasonable quality. At the very least, passengers won’t be cramped.

Getting what you pay for. In its cheapest form, the Accent can be yours for not much more than $16,000. At that price, buyers will have to make some sacrifices – including wheel covers, a manual transmission, and a small 5-inch infotainment screen with just four speakers.

We like the Accent better in its highest form, the Limited trim. It comes with a more modern 7-inch infotainment system, compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also included are some surprise luxury nods like LED taillights, a hands-free trunk, and heated front seats. If nothing else, the Limited is worth the price for the inclusion of automatic emergency braking.

Luckily, that price remains approachable. The Limited starts at $19,400, which ensures that it remains an excellent value among subcompacts. It won’t ever be a luxury car, but an Accent with modern amenities is perfectly pleasant.

Final thoughts. The 2020 Hyundai Accent’s biggest weapon is its price, which is nearly enough to overcome its shortcomings. The biggest drawbacks are an anemic engine and a numb driving experience, although the seating does little to impress either. Would it be too much to wish for a hatchback?

But we doubt most Accent buyers will care about those things. The Accent still follows through where it counts: value, features, and efficiency. It even looks decent. For buyers looking to make their dollar travel far, it remains a reasonable choice.

Check prices for the 2020 Hyundai Accent »