How Much Does the 2018 Hyundai Accent SE Offer For Under $17K? [Review]

[Photo: Hyundai]

2018 Hyundai Accent Overview

The small economy car market is losing momentum, as vehicle buyers opt for SUVs and crossovers. But the revamped 2018 Hyundai Accent is worth a look for those searching for an attractive, fairly roomy economy car. The 2018 Hyundai Accent SE, the entry-level model, has an improved interior, more features than you might think, and improved ride and handling. Unfortunately, those seeking a hatchback will be disappointed. As of this year, the hatchback version has been dropped. While not as practical, the sedan’s trunk is roomy, and the 60/40 split-folding rear seats enlarge the cargo area even further.

Hyundai highlighted the Accent’s new styling with their signature “cascade” grille. The new model also has a sweeping roof profile and sharp character lines that run the length the car. The new Accent is 1.2 inches wider than the previous model, and its a bit longer as well.

The 2018 Hyundai Accent starts at $14,995, rising to $18,895 depending on trim level. It comes in base SE, mid-level SEL and top Limited forms. It’s sold only as a front-wheel drive sedan, with a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. I tested the 2018 Hyundai Accent SE with the automatic transmission, which was $16,880 after destination charges, around the streets of Chicago.

2018 Hyundai Accent. [Photo: Hyundai]

Comfort and Convenience Features

The new Accent’s larger dimensions led the EPA to classify the 2018 Hyundai Accent SE as a compact car, not a subcompact. Overall, it’s quieter and the interior is more attractive. However, there’s still lots of hard plastic, and the SE does not have a center armrest. It does have a sharp, clearly legible gauge cluster and the front seats support the driver and passenger well.

Hyundai markets the Accent as a five-seater, but only four adults fit comfortably. The outboard seats are fine, but the center rear seat is too stiff. Being an economy car, tall people sitting behind a tall driver will want a bit more knee room. Similarly, long-legged drivers will wish they could move the seat back farther. The 2018 Hyundai Accent SE is also not equipped with a telescopic steering wheel – it only tilts up and down.

Standard features for the SE are air conditioning, cruise control, a government-mandated rearview camera, and a 5.0-inch infotainment display with four speakers. The stereo system in the SE does have Bluetooth connectivity, but does not support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. In the SE, you also get a tilting steering wheel, split-folding rear seats and 15-inch steel wheels. If you want Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, larger alloy wheels, push-button start or autonomous emergency braking, you’ll have to step up to the SEL.

2018 Hyundai Accent SE
2018 Hyundai Accent. [Photo: Hyundai]

Performance

All 2018 Accents house a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 130 horsepower and 119 lb-ft of torque. That’s down from 137 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque in the 2017 model. Hyundai says the changes result in better drivability, and they’ve retuned the engine for more low-end torque and superior fuel efficiency.

The EPA estimates normal fuel economy at 28 City MPG and 38 MPG on highways with the responsive automatic transmission. And it is a regular automatic, not a CVT, as some might expect in this sort of car. The six-speed manual transmission delivers the same estimated economy in the city, but offers up 39 MPG on highways.

I found 65-75 MPH passing in Chicago’s fast-moving freeway traffic to be fairly easy, and the engine was still pulling strongly above 75. The 2018 Hyundai Accent SE’s quick steering has a weighty feel. It feels nice and solid, thanks to a more rigid chassis and improved suspension. Overall, the handling is remarkably good, with the car firmly holding on around corners, even when I was pushing it a bit. The anti-lock brakes with brake force distribution are strong, and their pedal has a nice linear action.

While the stiff chassis makes for good handling, the ride may be too firm for some. You also feel bumps in the road much more plainly than in a softer-sprung model.

TFLcar’s Take

Hyundai is being smart is offering improved economy cars such as the Accent because nobody knows when gasoline prices will rise again. If and when they do start rise sharply, the Accent will be a strong contender for the best non-hybrid fuel economy. For those who don’t want a large SUV or crossover and are just seeking a small, easy-to-run car, the Accent is a good fit.

Check out the video below for our first drive review of the new Accent. Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow for more news, views, and real-world, economy car reviews! If you enjoy our content, please consider donating to TFL through our Patreon page.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Hyundai Accent SE

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $14,995
Price as Tested: $16,880 (incl. destination charge)
Engine: 1.6-liter naturally aspirated I-4
Drivetrain (Layout): Transversely mounted front engine, front-wheel drive
Horsepower: 130 hp @ 6,300 RPM
Torque: 119 lb-ft @ 4,850 RPM
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Suspension: Front: MacPherson strut w/ coil springs, twin-tube shock absorbers, 22.2 mm stabilizer barRear: Coupled torsion axle w/ coil springs, twin-tube shock absorbers
Brakes: Front: 11.0-inch ventilated front discsRear: Drum
Tires: Continental ProContact TX P185/65 R15 88H
Fuel capacity: 11.9 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 28 City/38 Highway/32 Combined MPG

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 101.6 inches
Length:  172.6 inches
Width: 68.1 inches
Height:  57.1 inches
Turning Circle: 33.46 feet
Curb Weight: 2,679 pounds
Dan Jedlicka
Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times–far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.’s MSN Autos Internet site from January 1996 to June 2008.For more of Dan’s thoughtful and insightful reviews please visit his website, www.danjedlicka.com.