- Exterior styling
- Cabin fit and finish
- Real room for four
- Not as perky as it looks
- Headroom tighter in the sedan
- No navigation option
The 2015 Hyundai Accent emphasizes comfort and equipment over driver enjoyment, and it remains a good value even if it's not as cheap as it once was.
The 2015 Hyundai Accent subcompact represents a marked improvement over earlier generations of the smallest car Hyundai offers--so much so that it can now be thought of as a solid choice among the sedans and hatchbacks in that segment. The Accent stresses strong value and lots of interior space, putting it into traditional economy-car territory--with predictable performance that doesn't vary much from that of competitors.
Now in its fourth model year, the Accent came into its own with a complete redesign--inside and out--for the 2012 model year. It uses the 'Fluidic Sculpture' design language seen in other Hyundais of the time, giving it a more elegant look. The better quality of the interior matched the looks, and with added standard and optional features, it could be viewed as a bit more mature than the more rough-and-tumble Fiat 500 or Ford Fiesta. Other competitors include the Chevrolet Sonic (which will be redesigned for 2016), the Honda Fit (new in 2015), the Nissan Versa, and even the Kia Rio--which is mechanically very similar to the Accent under its sheet metal.
To our eyes, the more attractive of the two Accent models is the five-door hatchback. While the four-door sedan is fine--perhaps a little homely--the five-door nails the design, mixing the usual hatchback profile with the cues and details that have come to define Hyundai's first modern design language. Inside, the layout is simple and clean, and the combination of streamlined controls and nice low-gloss plastics gives it a lot of presence for the price.
The Accent accelerates, steers, and handles in an adequate, predictable way, although its no performance standout. That said, its direct-injection 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is quite fuel-stingy, and it mates well with either the manual gearbox, which has a light clutch, or the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic that includes a Sport mode and manual control.
While the Honda Fit might put up better interior-room numbers, the Hyundai has a very comfortable, spacious interior for passengers--one of the best in its class, really. Even tall passengers will be able to get in and out easily and have enough headroom and legroom in the front seats. Back-seat space is also respectable for a car this size, and there's plenty of room for smaller items, with bins and trays for smartphones, energy drinks, and toll change. With the seatbacks up, you get a little more cargo room in the Accent sedan, although you lose some of the hatch's versatility and superior style.
Even compared to other small cars of its kind, the Accent does not rate very will with the NHTSA or the IIHS. It scores four stars with the federal government, although there are extra notes about the performance in side crashes. In IIHS testing, the Accent receives a score of 'Poor' on the agency's new small frontal overlap test. The test was implemented after the Accent was designed, and so like many other older models it does not fare well since it did not have the luxury of being designed for it.
The Accent is well-equipped, but not luxurious. Unlike in some subcompact models, you won't find leather upholstery, a navigation system, or a sunroof on the options list--the consequence of a very simplified set of build combinations. For 2013, Hyundai added a bunch of additional standard features (including air conditioning and power accessories), while raising the base price by about $2,000. This year the changes are relatively minimal, with an updated-and-improved base audio system, a new one-touch turn signal, sliding sun visors, and a driver's blind-spot mirror.
For 2014, the SE gets a new B&M racing sport shifter, while five-door SE and four-door Premium models get new projector headlamps with LED accents, a driver's side auto-up window, and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel.
For 2015, Hyundai has given the Accent a light freshening. There's a new grille design up front, while GL and GLS models also get revised headlights, and the GLS gets its own sportier taillamp look. Some feature content has been moved around and repackaged, there are new wheel designs, and the interior gets new fabric choices. SE models have also been renamed as Sport.
The Accent is one of several Hyundai models that had its fuel-economy numbers revised after the company overstated them to the EPA. Officially, the 2012 and 2013 models were affected, while Hyundai also downgraded the automatic's city number (from 27 mpg to 26) from 2014 to 2015. The 2015 ratings are 26 mpg city and 37 highway for the automatic model and 27/38 for those equipped with the manual.