Hyundai Accent vs. Nissan Versa

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - February 19, 2020

Choosing a small car doesn’t mean that the decisions are small. Modern subcompacts are packing ever more tech and efficiency into tiny packages. Two prime examples are the Hyundai Accent and Nissan Versa, both hot off the press with a 2020 redesign.

We took a deep dive to find out which makeover had the best results.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Accent & Versa »

What the Accent Gets Right

The Hyundai Accent received a new powertrain for 2020. The new engine is slightly less powerful, but it returns four miles per gallon more combined than the old, according to the EPA. That’s enough to push the Accent to 36 mpg combined, among the best in the class (and just ahead of the Versa).

By dimensions, the Versa is a slightly longer vehicle. But you wouldn’t know it from inside, where the Accent has 2.5 inches of extra legroom in the rear. Front-row passengers have more headroom, too.

The Accent costs slightly more to start, but it makes more sense in the upper trims. An Accent Limited comes with heated front seats, a sunroof, and a hands-free trunk, all at under $20,000. The Versa SL can’t keep up.

Even in base form, the Accent comes with Hyundai’s excellent warranty. Five years or 60,000 miles bumper to bumper is substantially better than the Versa’s standard three-year/36,000-mile warranty.

What the Versa Gets Right

Most economy cars compete primarily on cost, and the Versa comes out ahead on starting price. A base Versa costs about $600 less than the cheapest Accent. That advantage mostly disappears after adding a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to both cars, which most buyers will.

But the Versa has more tricks up its sleeve, starting with the trunk. Its 14.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity is better than some mid-size sedans, and one cubic foot more than the Accent. At the other end of the cabin, the Versa’s supportive and height-adjustable seats are more comfortable than the Accent’s.

The Versa starts with better technology, too. Automatic emergency braking is standard on every model, as is a 7-inch infotainment screen. On the Accent, buyers need to spec up to the Limited trim to guarantee automatic emergency braking.

Of the two new exteriors, we find the Versa’s more pleasing. Aesthetics may play second fiddle to function in this class, but the Versa’s sharp design helps it look more upmarket than the Hyundai.

A Matter of Inches

These cars are remarkably similar in profile, and many of the differences are small. A couple of inches of legroom here, a bit of cargo capacity there. Both include most of the features modern drivers will look for, and they’re almost identical in price with a CVT. But when it comes to value, the Versa noses ahead. It has better technology and better looks, and it’s more comfortable where it counts.

Our Verdict: Nissan Versa

If you plan to move up a few trims for nicer upholstery and a few creature comforts, the Hyundai Accent makes good sense. But for most shoppers, the Nissan Versa will take the dollar further. We’d recommend stepping up a notch to the SV trim, where the Versa’s value is at its best.

Take a closer look at the Hyundai Accent »

Take a closer look at the Nissan Versa »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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