2018 Hyundai Accent: Better compact ride comfort

The all-new 2018 Hyundai Accent’s design displays sculpted body forms and smoothly contoured lines and edges resulting in a new interpretation of Hyundai’s signature design language.

Hyundai enters into the fifth generation of the Accent available in a four-door model only, offered in three trims starting with the base model SE priced at $14,595, a more upscale SEL begins at $17,295, and the top-level Limited with a starting price of $18,895.

The new Accent is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with gasoline direct injection that delivers 130 horsepower at 6,300 rpm along with 119 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,850 rpm. The engine mates to either a standard six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission with a gate-type Shiftronic overdrive lock-up torque converter and hill-start assist control. The EPA highway mileage estimate for the manual is 37 mpg — add 1 mpg for the automatic.

Up front is Hyundai’s signature cascading grille, flanked by wraparound headlights and available LED signature daytime running lights. In profile, the sweeping roof and sharp character lines traverse the length of the car ending at available slim LED wraparound taillights. Features such as 17-inch alloy wheels and side mirror LED turn signal indicators add to the upscale feel of the car.

The compact sedan’s functional form achieves a balance between design and engineering with aerodynamic improvements, even underneath. A new front-lip spoiler, combined with a lower ride height, contributes to its design efficiency. These features result in a 0.28 coefficient of drag.

The 2018 Accent is larger and provides more interior space than the previous generation. It is 1.2 inches wider, and the overall length has grown by 0.6 inch. The height remains unchanged, delivering a more grounded stance. The wheelbase has also increased 0.4 inch, pushing the wheels out to the corners too improve the roominess of the interior, now up to 104 cubic feet.

The cabin showcases a pleasing simplicity that isn’t exactly luxurious, but isn’t tacky either. The interior ambience level increases with each step up the model scale. For instance, the SEL or Limited trim levels provide an additional USB port for back-seat occupants, and the infotainment touchscreen bumps up from 5 to 7 inches.

Accent comes with a 60 / 40 split folding rear seat and six airbags as standard fare. Wind noise has been reduced for a quieter interior, which enhances audio quality with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — included with the 7-inch screen, and Hyundai’s Blue Link system now integrates with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, allowing the remote start of the vehicle by speaking to a device located in ones’ home. A more meaningful feature would be an available forward-collision-avoidance system that warns the driver of an impending impact and automatically applies the brakes if the driver fails to react quickly enough.

My test 2018 Accent arrived in Limited trim with a silver metallic exterior and cloth interior executed in patterned black and grey tones. While it’s a sound choice for efficient, entry-level transportation, it’s not likely to stir the avid auto enthusiast’s emotions, though it serves its purpose quite well.

During my drive, I found the acceleration was quite adequate for a 130-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, although a tad more torque would have proved to be beneficial. While some say the manual gearbox is a little perkier than the automatic transmission, I didn’t have the opportunity to make a personal comparison. The automatic provides a switch-operated drive mode selector that transitions from Normal to Sport for improved driving response.

Ride quality is compliant and comfortable, and the handling characteristics deliver a responsive, if not sporty feel.

In a bottom-line assessment, this latest Hyundai Accent represents an outstanding value and it comes with the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes a 5-year, 60,000-mile fully-transferable new vehicle limited warranty, Hyundai’s 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, and five years of complimentary roadside assistance. Cars equipped with Hyundai Blue Link Connected Care provide proactive safety and car care services including automatic collision notification, for three years with enrollment.