- Strong acceleration
- Comfortable and quiet ride
- Spacious cabin has an upscale ambience
- Long warranty
- Real-world fuel economy falls short of EPA estimates
- No rearview camera or parking sensors available
As compact cars have grown larger and more expensive, subcompacts like the 2015 Hyundai Accent have enjoyed a gradual rise in popularity. Not only are these cars just the right size for many commuters, they are typically quite fuel-efficient and, of course, even more affordable to buy. What many shoppers will find more compelling, though, is the out-and-out refinement of a car like the Accent. Hyundai has built an entry-level sedan and hatchback that will seldom remind you of their budget origins.
From the driver seat, there's plenty to like, as the 2015 Accent has attractive interior materials and solid build quality, especially for a car with such a low starting price. The car's sleek styling adds to the upscale feel, but what makes the Accent feel truly special is under the hood. Its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine isn't significantly more powerful than most rivals' four-cylinder engines, but acceleration is strong and the Accent is about a second quicker to 60 mph than the class average. That's a difference you'll feel every time you accelerate up to highway speeds. Even better, both the automatic and manual transmissions work well, so there's no bad choice to make.
Another laudable feature is the Accent's passenger space, as both the hatchback and the sedan have plenty of room for full-size adults in the rear seat. The hatchback also offers plenty of cargo space, and it's a good option for buyers needing extra utility. Once you've loaded up your passengers and gear, everyone will appreciate the Hyundai's smooth and quiet ride.
Of course, in this price range, all is not perfect, and one of the more surprising drawbacks to the Hyundai Accent is fuel economy. Although the car's EPA fuel economy estimates are respectable and on par with those of many top rivals, we've found it difficult to reproduce them in real-world driving. Rearward visibility is also challenging on the hatchback version, and no rearview camera is offered. Finally, such higher-end features as keyless ignition, a navigation system and smartphone app integration are simply not available, even though many competitors now offer them.
The 2015 Hyundai Accent sedan and hatchback are good overall choices for the subcompact class, but you'll definitely want to consider some of the competition before making up your mind. The 2015 Honda Fit is one of our favorites in the segment, thanks to its truly abundant cargo space and impressive fuel economy. If you're looking for an entertaining driving experience, cars like the 2015 Ford Fiesta and the 2015 Chevrolet Sonic offer peppy turbocharged engines and impressive handling abilities. The Accent's cousin, the 2015 Kia Rio, is essentially the same car in different packaging, and it offers a few more optional tech features, such as navigation and a rearview camera. The Toyota Prius C is worth a look for its excellent fuel economy, though it's quite a bit more expensive than the Hyundai. Whatever your priorities, though, the 2015 Hyundai Accent is worth a long look given its solid overall credentials.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2015
The 2015 Hyundai Accent gets a newly styled grille, headlights and taillights, along with some changes to standard and optional equipment. Last year's SE hatchback has been renamed the Sport.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2015 Hyundai Accent is offered as a small four-door sedan or a four-door hatchback, both of which seat five. The sedan is available only in base GLS trim, while the hatchback comes in GS and fancier Sport trims.
The GLS sedan comes equipped with 14-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, a driver seat armrest, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, a trip computer and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and USB and auxiliary audio inputs.
Two options packages are available for automatic-transmission-equipped GLS sedans. The Popular package adds cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a center console storage box with a sliding armrest. The Style package can be purchased only in combination with the Popular package and adds projector-beam headlights with LED accents, foglights, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes (instead of drum brakes), upgraded cloth upholstery and an auto-up driver's window.
The GS hatchback includes all of the standard GLS features, along with a rear windshield wiper and cloth door trim; automatic transmission versions also have cruise control. The Sport hatchback adds a rear spoiler, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and the equipment from the Popular and Style packages. A sunroof is optional on automatic Sport models, while manual versions are eligible for a leather-wrapped shift knob.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
We refer to the Hyundai Accent as a subcompact, but it is roomier than the norm, with interior dimensions that actually place it in the EPA's "compact" class. The spacious rear seat offers enough headroom and legroom to allow even 6-footers to get comfortable in the outboard positions.
Up front, the well-shaped seats are roomy and supportive, and overall, the Accent feels upscale for a car in this class. The cabin has a friendly ambience, thanks to its solid build quality, patterned upholstery, stylish dash design and tasteful materials.
Cargo space is above class averages, with the sedan offering a relatively large trunk with 13.7 cubic feet of capacity. The hatchback, meanwhile, provides 21.2 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats up and a generous 47.5 cubic feet when they're folded down.
Standard safety equipment on the 2015 Hyundai Accent includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags. The GS and GLS have front disc and rear drum brakes, while the Sport model has four-wheel disc brakes. Rear disc brakes are optional on the GLS.
In Edmunds brake testing, an Accent sedan with the optional rear disc brakes came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet. An Accent hatchback (also with rear disc brakes) came to a stop in 124 feet. Both are average distances for the segment.
In government crash testing, the Accent received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and four stars for side-impact protection (although the government noted an increased risk of spinal injury for rear passengers involved in side-impact crashes). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Accent the highest possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset and roof-strength tests and the second-best rating of "Acceptable" in the side-impact test. In the small-overlap frontal crash test, the Accent earned the lowest rating of "Poor." Its seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Every 2015 Hyundai Accent is powered by a 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder that produces 137 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. The front-wheel-drive Accent is available with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with fuel-efficient Eco mode. In Edmunds performance testing, an Accent GLS sedan with the automatic went from zero to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds, and an SE hatchback (now called Sport) with an automatic did it in 9.3 seconds. Both are quick times for the class.
The EPA's estimated fuel economy with the automatic transmission is 30 mpg combined (26 city/37 highway), and 31 mpg combined (27 city/38 highway) with the manual. While these numbers are on par with other subcompacts, we've had a hard time matching them in real-world testing.
Although 137 hp doesn't sound like a lot, the 2015 Hyundai Accent is relatively quick compared with other cars in the subcompact class. Its 1.6-liter engine responds energetically when you the hit the gas pedal, and there's plenty of power on tap for highway merging and passing maneuvers. Under hard acceleration, the engine remains smooth but can get rather noisy. Both the manual and automatic transmissions make good use of the engine's resources, but unless you're particularly fond of manual transmissions, it's hard to beat the convenience of the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic.
On the road, the Accent provides a quiet, comfortable ride and decent handling. Although competitors such as the Ford Fiesta have sportier steering and handling, the Hyundai feels balanced and composed and is well suited for daily commutes.
With handsome styling, above-average performance and solid build quality, the 2015 Hyundai Accent represents a strong choice for a small sedan or hatchback in the subcompact car class.