2015 Hyundai Accent Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
May 6, 2015

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.

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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.

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2015 Hyundai Accent

Styling

Sedan models aren't quite as attractive, but the Hyundai Accent hatchback is smartly penned.

With its 2012 redesign, the Accent's design came into its own, borrowing elements from the 'Fluidic Sculpture' ethos that Hyundai was using at the time. It has been updated slightly for 2015.

Several years after this recast, the 2015 Hyundai Accent remains quite handsome. A minor update comes in this year, endowing the Accent with an updated grille design, and adding LED running lamps to the headlights of GS and GLS models. The GLS also gets its own new unique taillights. The look is still quite pleasing, and the changes keep it modern looking.

As is often the case on such stubby little cars, we don't think the Accent's design works as well for sedans, where a short trunk cuts lops off the curvy part; but the trapezoidal frame around the grille and the shoulder lines running gracefully back are true to other Hyundai designs. With the five-door, things get better, as that shoulder line is drawn all the way out across the longer roofline to its tightly pinched hatch. The hatchback's vertical taillamps are particularly strong details, as they wrap around the D-pillars.

The sheetmetal's dynamic look finds an equal in the remarkably well-finished interior. A matte-finished dash cap evokes the appearance of carbon fiber, with big boomerang lines molded into it. The simpler center stack of controls isn't as shapely as the one in Hyundai's larger Elantra, but it avoids the slanted, overstyled look of the Ford Fiesta--which was, admittedly, improved somewhat for 2014.

Overall, there are few criticisms of the interior, save for the stretches of hard, shiny black plastic that live on the lower regions of the doors and the center console. Considering the price point, however, it's remarkable how finely finished this entry-level car feels.

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2015 Hyundai Accent

Performance

Handling and acceleration are average for the Accent's kind.

There's nothing exciting about the way the Hyundai Accent comports itself on the road, but that also means there are no surprises with its handling or overall dynamics, either. It's utterly predictable, which surely appeals to some no-nonsense buyers.

The Accent's 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine makes a best-in-class 138 horsepower and a respectable 123 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration is about average, with zero-to-60 times no quicker than about ten seconds.

You'll need to rev the engine above 3,500 rpm in order to extract the most out of it, although it's quite fuel-stingy if you can keep those revs as low as possible. It mates well with either the manual gearbox, with its light clutch, or the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic that includes a Sport mode and manual control.

The Accent feels more graceful, if not edgy, when the road turns curvy. The design includes twin-tube shocks and a stabilizer bar for the front struts, while the rear suspension sticks with the classic torsion-beam setup. Ride quality, as with any short-wheelbase vehicle, can be jarring over potholes and bouncy on frost-heaved highways.

We like the somewhat meatier feel of the electric power steering in Sport (formerly SE) versions, though throughout the lineup the steering tuning feels like it's trying to emulate the strong-centered heft of a large sedan; it's fine, but it also doesn't make the Accent feel as lively as it could.

Although the chassis feels fine with a full load, the powertrain does feel considerably less perky with more than two people aboard--underscoring that the Accent is a small, relatively lightweight car. 

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2015 Hyundai Accent

Comfort & Quality

Six-foot-tall passengers will fit in the back seat: the Accent makes the most of its compact dimensions.

The Hyundai Accent has a very comfortable, spacious interior for passengers--one of the best in its class. While it can't compete directly with the Honda Fit and its excellent reconfigurable seat arrangement, the Hyundai holds its own among the other class offerings.

Today's Accent is longer than its predecessor, at about 162 inches long as a five-door and 172 inches long as a four-door. Most of that extra length went into the passenger compartment, making this Accent significantly roomier than before, with more passenger space than most other cars in this class.

The Accent's front seats have plenty of legroom for adults, and even though the littlest Hyundai doesn't have the larger Elantra's hourglass-shaped center stack, there's still plenty of space for taller drivers to find room for their knees. Seats are adjustable for height on all models, and even in one of the higher positions most should still have enough headroom.

Unlike in most new cars, the steering wheel doesn't adjust telescopically on most models in the lineup, but it does tilt. We wouldn't rate longer-distance seating comfort very high either, although you get a little more bolstering in the Sport models, which might be of help in all-day drives.

Back-seat space is also respectable for a car this size, although we find the cushions to be positioned a bit low. The glovebox is huge, and there's plenty of space for smaller items, with bins and trays for smartphones, energy drinks, and toll change.

Ride quality in the Accent is quite good--and relatively quiet--although higher-speed driving can bring out some boominess inside, especially on hatchback models.

Whether you get the sedan or the hatchback, the split rear seatbacks fold forward easily--not a given in the class--which helps make the most of the available space. We'd opt for the hatchback, as while you get a little less space with the seats up you get a lot more cargo flexibility.

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2015 Hyundai Accent

Safety

The Accent hasn't fared well in the newest crash tests.

The 2015 Hyundai Accent is once again toward the bottom of its class when it comes to safety and crash ratings, something the Accent name has unfortunately been linked to for some time.

Relative to other rivals--and the list of solid performers continues to grow--the Accent has been a bit of a disappointment. The Accent achieved just a four-star overall score from the federal government, and in test results the feds pointed to intrusion at the left rear door in the side impact test, which struck the rear passenger dummy--indicating "a higher likelihood of thoracic injury." 

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, the Accent gets mostly 'Good' scores, but side-impact protection is only 'Acceptable' and it gets a 'Poor' rating on the agency's new small front overlap test, which is tougher than the rest and has been a challenge for vehicles designed before it was implemented, such as the Accent.

Six airbags in all are standard, including side and side-curtain bags; so are anti-lock brakes and stability control, as well as active headrests.

Outward visibility can be challenging in the Accent hatchback--more so than in the sedan. That's mostly due to the positioning of the big D-pillars and the rear-seat headrests. While the Accent does have large side mirrors, which help, it doesn't offer a rearview camera or blind-spot monitors.

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2015 Hyundai Accent

Features

A slew of standard features helps mitigate the way the Accent's price has risen in this generation.

The 2015 Hyundai Accent is once again offered in three different trim levels, although the top trim, formerly SE, has been renamed. The structure now goes GLS, GS, then Sport. The sedan is priced below the hatchback and includes slightly less equipment, as it's kept to the GLS trim level. GS and Sport are reserved for the hatchback.

Back in 2013, Hyundai added a bunch of additional standard features (including air conditioning and power accessories), while raising the base price by about $2,000. Changes for 2014 were 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 2015, the Accent receives a mild exterior freshening along with some revised feature content. The GLS automatic sedan is now available with a Popular Equipment Package for $600, which adds several items that make it feel a little more upscale, including steering-wheel audio controls, cruise control, Bluetooth phone, a tilt/telescope wheel, and a sliding armrest center console. The GLS and GS now get a reversed-color LCD screen for their head units, which is supposed to improve readability.

The base GLS sedan is pretty well equipped. An audio system with satellite radio, a CD player, and a USB port; heated side mirrors; air conditioning; and remote keyless entry are all among the included features.

In the five-door Accent, the base version is the GS. That model does have many of the same features as the GLS--including a rear defroster and the same 172-watt sound system with satellite radio plus iPod and USB connectivity.

The five-door Accent Sport (formerly SE) is the, well, sportier, top-of-the-line model and gets a sliding armrest, 16-inch wheels, sport-tuned steering, heated side mirrors, fog lamps, and other appearance upgrades. Even after adding an automatic transmission--making the most expensive Accent you can buy--the Sport tops out around $18k.

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2015 Hyundai Accent

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage is very good, at 37 mpg highway, but some compact cars do a little better.

The 2015 Hyundai Accent is one of the few cars on the market that still gets better fuel economy with its manual transmission. 

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 mpg highway for the automatic model and 27/38 mpg for those equipped with the manual.

Compared to other vehicles in its size and price class, these numbers are competitive, but definitely not the best. We've seen close to the EPA numbers, provided we can keep the revs relatively low.

With the manual gearbox, you get an "eco" shift light to help train you to use less fuel, while the automatic has an ActiveEco button that triggers early upshifts to improve gas mileage.

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November 7, 2017
2015 Hyundai Accent 5-Door HB Automatic GS

Good value best in class

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Awesome very happy. Very practical . Good styling. Straight forward dash.
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May 1, 2016
2015 Hyundai Accent 4-Door Sedan Manual GLS

Good, basic transportation with some pretentions of grandeur

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I'm a car enthusiast. Follow numerous mag's and internet sources like Car connection. Have driven: Ferrari F430; Lambo; new Telsa S; Audi R-8. Loved them all! Would love a Tesla 3 but, I'm also a single senior... + More »
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September 26, 2015
2015 Hyundai Accent 5-Door HB Automatic GS

I hate my new car

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I've only had my 2015 accent GS for 3 months and I hate it. I drove it to Las Vegas NV and back and it was so uncomfortable that I'm ready to return it . I only have 4756 on mileage and nine of those miles was... + More »
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September 17, 2015
2015 Hyundai Accent 5-Door HB Automatic Sport

Great little car

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This is the fourth Accent my family has owned and all have been incredibly reliable. The 2015 SE certainly has a nice look to it and the interior doesn't disappoint. My fuel mileage is a little bit higher than... + More »
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