2016 Ford Fiesta vs. 2016 Hyundai Accent: Compare Cars

November 9, 2016
2015 Ford Fiesta

2015 Ford Fiesta

Ford's Fiesta and Hyundai's Accent both fall into the subcompact category, which has often included first cars for new drivers or purchased as an extra car by drivers who simply want basic transportation--usually for no more than one person.

The Fiesta and the Accent both start between $15,000 and $16,000, and you'd be hard-pressed to break $19,000 even with a heavy hand on the options list. The Hyundai is a slightly better value for money, with the more expensive base Fiesta relying on econocar classic features like wind-up windows and painted steel wheels with plastic wheelcovers.

How do these two compare against each other in a budget shootout? Let's take a closer look.

MORE: Read our reviews of the 2016 Ford Fiesta and the 2016 Hyundai Accent

2016 Hyundai Accent

2016 Hyundai Accent

2016 Hyundai Accent

2016 Hyundai Accent

2016 Hyundai Accent

2016 Hyundai Accent

Neither car is among the largest of the subcompacts, but the Accent comes closer. Those honors go to the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa. While the Fiesta in particular can feel tight for four larger Americans, the Accent is easier to get in and out of, and four people will be more comfortable in it.

Still, the Fiesta is clearly the more stylish; its design is rakish where the Accent is conservative. To our eyes, the five-door hatchback models of both cars are far more pleasant to look at than the awkward four-door sedan versions added for sedan-friendly U.S. shoppers. Inside, the Fiesta recently got a new and less cluttered dashboard, with a touchscreen for higher trim levels.

It's in performance that the Fiesta stands out, with a range of powertrains that now includes a light, efficient, 1.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 3-cylinder engine. Paired to the only transmission available, a 6-speed manual, this might have been our favorite Fiesta: It's light, agile, and returns close to 40 mpg in real-world driving. The EcoBoost is an option, however, with the standard Fiesta engine being a 120-hp inline-4 available with either manual or automatic transmissions.

2015 Ford Fiesta

2015 Ford Fiesta

2015 Ford Fiesta

2015 Ford Fiesta

2015 Ford Fiesta

2015 Ford Fiesta

And if you're going for performance options, you may as well take the racy Fiesta ST, with its 197-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-4 and various performance upgrades. It adds up to a true "hot hatch" that's far from anything you'll find in the Accent lineup. The Accent is powered by a 138-hp 1.6-liter inline-4 offered with a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual.

The Fiesta is more rewarding to drive, too, showing its European origins in crisp roadholding and pleasant cornering. The Accent isn't bad in those respects, it's just not distinctive. Let's say it doesn't invite spirited driving, while one of the Fiesta's hidden charms is its road manners.

The Accent had its fuel-economy numbers revised in 2013 after the company overstated them to the EPA. The 2016 ratings are 30 mpg combined for the automatic models, and 31 mpg combined for those equipped with the 6-speed manual. The Fiesta ratings are 31 mpg combined for either transmission with the standard engine, 32 mpg combined for the SFE automatic, and then a combined 36 mpg for the manual-only 1.0-liter EcoBoost model.

Neither car is at the top of the latest safety ratings, in part reflecting their age (each is now in at least its fourth model year). The NHTSA gives each of them four stars overall, and both get notes about extra intrusion in side crashes. In IIHS testing, the Accent receives a score of "Poor" on the agency's new small frontal overlap test. The Fiesta is just one step higher, with a "Marginal" rating.

The Fiesta's superior qualities on many of our measures make it the decisive winner: It scores 7.6 on our rating scale, against just 6.6 for the Accent. What it sacrifices in interior space—and, really, how often do subcompact drivers carry three other people—it makes up in style, handling, and features. And that's even before we get to its fun-to-drive quality. Safety is a concern for both.

Both cars are entirely predictable, adequate, and acceptable, but we'd take the Fiesta's more enjoyable driving experience over the Accent's value for money.

Summary

7.6
Expert Rating
The 2016 Fiesta offers fun and features not expected at these prices, but it lacks interior space compared to top rivals.
6.6
Expert Rating
The 2016 Hyundai Accent is a practical and economical subcompact car, but crash-test scores are below par.

Styling

8.0
Expert Rating
Taut and spunky, with a variety of bold colors, the 2016 Ford Fiesta isn't a bland economy car.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The Accent still looks fresh in its fifth year, particularly the hatchback model.
Read More

Performance

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2016 Ford Fiesta is responsive and nimble, and the Fiesta ST is a legitimate hot hatch.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The Accent performs with comfortable predictability, but it's sluggish and the ride can get jarring.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

7.0
Expert Rating
The 2016 Ford Fiesta's interior isn't as drab as the price might suggest, but space is tight, even for the class.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
There's more passenger space in the Hyundai Accent than in most subcompacts, if not the flexibility of the class-bests.
Read More

Safety

6.0
Expert Rating
The 2016 Ford Fiesta has a healthy dose of safety features, but the crash test ratings aren't impressive.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The newest, latest crash tests are a source of concern for the Hyundai Accent.
Read More

Features

9.0
Expert Rating
The new Sync 3 infotainment system highlights the 2016 changes, and a wide range of trim levels means there is a Fiesta for many types of buyers.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The Accent has a fair amount of standard equipment, though some newer safety technology is absent from the options list.
Read More

Fuel Economy

8.0
Expert Rating
The turbo 3-cylinder delivers a genuine 40 mpg, and other Fiestas are thrifty as well.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The Accent's fuel economy is good in absolute terms, but low for its size class.
Read More

MSRP

from $14,580
from $14,745

Invoice

from $14,361
from $14,343

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

31
31

Engine

Regular Unleaded I-4, 1.6 L
Regular Unleaded I-4, 1.6 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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