With sales slipping, Hyundai has decided to trim some fat on the fifth-generation Accent. While a hatchback remains available for the rest of the world, the automaker has indicated the U.S. will receive no such option. This will probably put a few value-oriented motorists with a penchant for liftgates off. But, assuming they can stomach a crossover, Hyundai’s subcompact Kona is right around the corner — and there’s little reason to assume they wouldn’t go for it.
Recent history has proven that the average American will shun a ho-hum hatchback and happily spend more on its crossover equivalent. Pigeonholing the Accent as a sedan will keep it from getting in the Kona’s way. However, this also allows it to remain a traditional car and ignore all the trappings of being SUV-adjacent.
Hyundai says the biggest change to its smallest model is added refinement and, judging this book by its cover, that seems to have taken place. The exterior does appear more upscale than previous incarnations and the interior has added features drivers like to see as standard.
Outside options include projector headlamps, LED taillights, a sunroof, and 17-inch alloy wheels. However, big changes are not found under the hood. The Accent keeps its 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder, which is actually down a bit on power. Hyundai estimates 130 horsepower and 119 lb-ft of torque against 2017’s 137 hp and 123 lb-ft. Don’t expect sprightly performance, but do expect enviable economy.
A six-speed manual transmission remains standard, with an optional six-speed automatic.
Fortunately, things are different in the cabin. While the controls exist in a familiar orientation, just about anything you’d want to fiddle with is more contemporary. At a glance, nothing looks to have changed in a dramatic fashion. But focusing on the individual elements, it becomes immediately clear that a lot has happened. The most evident alteration is Hyundai’s addition of a 5-inch touchscreen with backup camera as standard.
A 7-inch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is optional and Hyundai is also willing to add things like heated front seats, automatic emergency braking, and a hands-free trunk release.
Compared with the previous generation, the 2018 Accent is larger and offers more interior space. It’s wider by 1.2 inches, and overall length has increased by 0.6 inches, with an unaltered roof height. Hyundai also stretched the wheelbase by 0.4 inches in the interests of driving dynamics and interior volume.
Pricing remains a mystery, much like the question of whether a hatchback will eventually return, but we’re expecting it to start in the ballpark of $15,000. It should arrive in dealerships this fall.