A simple ride. The subcompact car segment focuses on usability for the price, and that’s precisely what the 2021 Hyundai Accent does. Like your trusty washing machine, the Accent does its job day in and day out without issue. But just like you’re not about to show off your spin cycle, you’re not going to invite all your friends over to check out your new Accent.

That’s OK. The Accent’s cool with being there when you need and a forgotten appliance when you don’t. But like that faithful appliance, it’s always there when you need it.

Average, but handsomely average. There's nothing to write home about the Accent’s design. It looks like a subcompact sedan. But in this age of automakers vying for attention through wild designs, this simple, toned-down look appeals to the masses.

It won’t bore you to tears, but it also won’t bring about double-takes and judgmental glares from Aunt Jean as you pull up to the yearly family reunion.

Inside, the Accent’s focus on simplicity and predictability continues with its this-feels-familiar cabin. All the buttons and controls are right where you expect them to be, and the learning curve is relatively flat.

We do, however, continue to miss the ability to add a hatchback to this middle-of-the-road design. While the Kia Rio and Mitsubishi Mirage continue offering hatchback options, Hyundai has put all its subcompact hatchback chips on the tiny, boldly styled Venue crossover.

Hyundai Accent

Easy on the wallet, but light on base features, The Hyundai Accent starts from a wallet-friendly $16,390 including destination, making it a great option for cash-strapped college kids or new professionals just getting started in their career.

However, it penalizes entry-level buyers with its limited standard features, including a 5-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth, a pair of USB charging ports, and not much else.

Bumping up to the SEL trim brings the base price to $18,745, but it also makes the Accent feel like a part of this decade with a 7-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a few other tech bits.

To get advanced safety tech, you must move into the range-topping Limited trim, which costs $20,495 and adds automatic emergency braking.

Buyers looking for a better balance of price and features may want to check out the Accent’s cousin, the Rio. It starts from $16,815 and includes a standard 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and more. If you move up to the Rio S, you can get upgraded infotainment software, automatic emergency braking, adaptive headlights, and a 3.5-inch display in the instrument cluster for just an extra $800.

Good fuel economy, check; bland drive, check. The Accent isn't only cheap to buy, it’s also cheap to feed. It achieves an EPA-estimated 33 miles per gallon city, 41 mpg highway, and 36 combined. This beats most competitors, but the Rio matches it.

With this great fuel economy comes very little fun, as the Accent’s 120-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder motor does little to excite behind the wheel. Plus, it delivers this vanilla drive with plenty of engine noise seeping into the cabin.

The Toyota Yaris has less power but more driving excitement with its zippy Mazda platform. Otherwise, this forgettable driving experience is pretty much par for the course in the subcompact class.

Final thoughts. There’s just enough to like about the 2021 Hyundai Accent to make it a good first-time new car for a college student or recent graduate. However, its lack of endearing features makes it an appliance that’s only good for shuttling you to and from campus or the office with minimal expense.

Buyers seeking more character may want to check out the Mazda-based Toyota Yaris. And if you want more value, the Kia Rio is the way to go.

Check prices for the 2021 Hyundai Accent »