Hyundai Accent vs. Toyota Yaris

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

Economy cars are a competitive segment, full of reliable cars that won’t break the budget or crowd the garage. Two value-packed champions, the Hyundai Accent and the Toyota Yaris received major updates to help them compete with modern rivals. Both cars start just past $15,000 and weigh less than half of a BMW X7.

Which packs a bigger punch? We took a closer look to find out.

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

What the Accent Gets Right

The big news for the 2020 Accent is the engine. Although it’s still a 1.6-liter four-cylinder, it's new and up to four miles per gallon combined more efficient, according to the EPA. This brings the Accent back to the forefront with up to 36 mpg combined.

The extra efficiency came at the cost of some horsepower, but the Accent still claims 120 hp under the hood. That’s reasonable for a car this size, and it’s well more than the Yaris’ 106 hp. The power doesn’t come at a cost, as the Hyundai starts a few hundred dollars cheaper than the Yaris.

Also new is the Accent’s styling. No one will mistake either one of these cars for a Mercedes, but the Accent is more conservative than the angular Yaris. For us, that’s a good thing.

The Accent adds the fresh looks and powertrain to its existing strengths, which include a strong safety scorecard. The IIHS gave it a Top Safety Pick award, and the available automatic emergency braking is more capable than that on the Yaris.

Finally, any Hyundai counts the brand’s warranty among its strengths. Hyundai’s five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty beats the Yaris by two years/24,000 miles.

What the Yaris Gets Right

The Yaris’ secret weapon is the available hatchback body style. In hatchback form, the Yaris’ trunk can swallow nearly 16 cubic feet of luggage. The Accent is well endowed for a sedan, but it maxes out at 13.7 cubic feet.

In spite of the cargo capacity, the Yaris doesn’t skimp on passenger space. Passengers in the second row will find an inch of extra legroom, and the hatchback offers strong headroom as well.

The Yaris is a Toyota in name, but the bones are from Mazda. Mazda has a long history of zippy economy cars, and their expertise doesn’t go amiss – the Yaris is composed, agile, and far more enjoyable from behind the wheel.

Added to the Yaris’ virtues is a true six-speed automatic transmission. Both cars start with a six-speed manual, but the Accent’s only upgrade is a continuously variable unit. Especially under hard acceleration, that transmission tends to drone.

The Yaris can’t match Hyundai’s factory warranty, but it offers better value in other ways. All Yaris models come with basic automatic emergency braking and a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen with smartphone compatibility. As an added bonus, the Yaris comes with two years of included maintenance. A base Accent has none of the above.

Nothing’s Perfect

It’s expected that buying an economy car will come with some compromises. These two cars offer variations on the theme, with distinct strengths and compromises.

The Hyundai looks better by the numbers, boasting more power, better efficiency, and a strong warranty. The Yaris pulls ahead from behind the wheel thanks to a spacious cabin and an engaging drive. This duel is a close one, and the right decision may come down to each buyer’s preferences and priorities.

Our Verdict: Toyota Yaris

Optioned carefully, the Toyota Yaris is the budget warrior we’d rather ride into battle with. Hatchback versatility is hard to pass up, especially with a Mazda-sourced suspension. Decent technology and included maintenance sweeten the value package. The Hyundai Accent is no slouch, but the Yaris inches ahead in this comparison.

Take a closer look at the Hyundai Accent »

Take a closer look at the Toyota Yaris »

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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