2017 Hyundai Accent
Review of: 2016 Accent 4dr Sdn Auto GL
Review is from previous year 2016. Some details might be different.
2016 Hyundai Accent GL: Simple, basically
By Chris Chase
Oct. 31, 2016
Back in 2012, the fourth-generation Hyundai Accent was one of a cohort of subcompacts that announced that small cars were truly no longer the penalty boxes they used to be. Along with the Ford Fiesta, launched the same year, and a Kia Rio that shared this car’s underpinnings, the Accent made it clear that buying a new car on a budget no longer relegated you to the little leagues in terms of refinement.
Pros & Cons
- + Ride comfort
- + Comfortable front seats
- + Value for money
- - Handling
- - Manual transmission availability
- - No cutting-edge technology
The same went for the car’s looks, which (if you ignore the tiny-looking 14-inch wheels on our GL tester) give the impression of a larger one. And though the Accent shares some styling cues with the larger Elantra and Sonata designs that arrived in 2011, it’s the car whose look has aged the best, in our opinion.
Obviously, this is no luxury car, but the front seats are more comfortable than I remember them being in a 2012 model I reviewed shortly after this car first went on sale. Sure, they’re narrow, but supportive enough, and they’re heated for our GL (with optional automatic transmission) trim’s $17,849 price tag.
The rear seats are perfectly serviceable too, with legroom that challenges what’s on offer in some compact cars, a class up from this.
Move up to the SE trim for about $1,000 more and Hyundai throws in a sunroof, along with alloy wheels and fog lights. Taller drivers and frequent front passengers may want to consider sticking with the GL, as the SE’s sunroof cuts into headroom.
Cargo space is a respectable 389 litres in the sedan; that figure grows to 487 if you opt for the hatchback.
It’s not often we review cars quite this basic, so we’re not used to having so little to talk about here. The GL comes with Bluetooth and keyless entry, but that’s about all there is to write home about. The Accent’s age means it doesn’t get any of the active safety features that are starting to appear in newer subcompact designs.
The GLS adds automatic projection-style headlights with LED daytime running lamps and automatic climate control, for $18,649 with a stickshift in hatchback form, or $19,899 in either body style with an automatic transmission.
Speaking of transmissions, our tester came with that six-speed automatic. If you’re thinking that sounds like a terrible idea based on your own past experience in small cars with automatics, chuck those thoughts away.
This self-shifter is an excellent match with the Accent’s little 1.6-litre engine and 138 hp/123 lb-ft of torque, making quick, decisive downshifts in hasty acceleration and pulling barely perceptible upshifts in normal driving.
The suspension is on the soft side. That’s good for comfort, but it’s not hard to overload this car by, say, driving a couple of friends home from the airport with heavy suitcases.
But when the suspension is holding up a happier amount of weight, the Accent is a decent, if unexciting, handler. The Fiesta and Mazda’s defunct 2 both feel like they have a better time being pushed through corners.
Finally, a note on wheels: the 14-inchers you see here may not look cool, but they’re lighter than the available 16-inch alloys, which highlight the car’s tendency to skip sideways slightly in the rear over rough roads. You’ll feel this on the 14s too, but it’s less pronounced, making the smaller wheels our choice for their better over-the-road refinement.
Accent’s fuel consumption estimates are 8.9/6.3 (city/highway) with the automatic transmission, figures that are on the high side compared to more modern little cars. Our test car averaged just over 8.0L/100 km in a few days of city driving.
Kia’s equivalent to our Accent tester is a Rio in LX+ AT trim, at $17,495, or $400 less than the Hyundai. A similarly-equipped Honda Fit in LX trim with automatic goes for a comparatively pricey $18,890.
Toyota’s Yaris comes in two distinct versions set apart by more than sedan versus hatchback body styles: the sedan is a clone of the Mazda2 that Mazda itself doesn’t sell in North America, and in our opinion, it’s the best-driving car in this class. But a base model with automatic transmission is pricier, at $18,200, and doesn’t include heated front seats.
Ford’s Fiesta sedan costs $17,049 in mid-level SE trim, but by the time you’ve added the automatic and a comfort package that brings heated front seats, the MSRP has climbed to $20,549.
At Chevrolet, a Sonic sedan — which got a good-looking styling update for 2017 — carries an MSRP of $18,295 with automatic and heated seats.
If a little less cheap and a lot more cheerful is what you’re after, a Fiat 500 Sport with automatic and a comfort and convenience package goes for $23,295.
The Koreans are still head of the class for value in this segment. We’ll be curious to see if they can hold on to that title, with new versions of both the Accent and Rio due in the next year or two.
Hyundai’s littlest car remains unpretentious basic transportation. The Accent may be among the oldest designs in the subcompact class, but it has aged well and remains a strong value in a field of appealing competitors.