By on July 2, 2018

2018 Hyundai Accent SE front quarter

2018 Hyundai Accent SE

1.6-liter inline four, DOHC (130 hp @ 6300 rpm, 119 lb-ft @ 4850 rpm)

Six-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive

28 city / 37 highway / 31 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

34.2 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $15,880 (USD)

As Tested: $16,005

Prices include $885 freight charge.

The marketing executives at Hyundai Motor America would likely prefer you forget about their first offering on these shores, the extraordinarily low-priced Excel. Introduced around the same time as the underwhelming Yugo GV née Fiat 127, contemporary news reports inextricably linked the two bargain hatchbacks, and thus the poor reputation of the Yugo stuck to the good-by-comparison Hyundai.

Frustrated by the acceptable-but-cheap label created by its early models, Hyundai progressively improved both the design of its cars and the overall quality. No longer the butt of jokes, Hyundai’s offerings are rightfully comparable to the leading models in whatever class they compete. So, when I was handed the keys to this 2018 Hyundai Accent SE, I was curious to see how the lineup’s bargain model improved over the decades, and whether the essence of the cheerful econobox was retained.

2018 Hyundai Accent SE profile

Take a glance at that trim level and the price — it’s not a misprint. It’s the base SE trim, and the only option on the window sticker are carpeted floor mats at $125. This is the unusual press loan vehicle that isn’t loaded well beyond what’s typically stocked on dealer lots.

2018 Hyundai Accent SE front

The definition of a stripped vehicle has changed measurably since my mother bought her first car after the divorce. She bought a 1990 Toyota Corolla, outfitted with an AM/FM radio and air conditioning. Manual windows, a single drivers-side rear view mirror, no cruise control, and no clock.

2018 Hyundai Accent SE rear

Conversely, this basic Accent SE has nearly everything an entry-level buyer needs. Standard Bluetooth, power windows and door locks, air conditioning, cruise, USB charging, a rear-view camera, and traction control. Oddly, the feature this Accent didn’t have is the one I missed most — automatic headlamps, which seem to be fitted to every other new car I’ve driven over the past decade. Mercifully, I noticed the lack of light when driving on my slow suburban street, rather than on the interstate. It just took a bit of mental reprogramming.

2018 Hyundai Accent SE interior

Driving a small, low-priced car once also meant driving something that was incredibly slow. Thanks to efficiencies of production, modern manufacturers find no reason to build a tiny underpowered engine just for a low-profit subcompact car. Thus, this 2,502 lb Accent is powered by a 130 horsepower four-cylinder — more than enough power to get moving briskly.

It’s no sports car or hot-hatch, by any means, but the littlest Hyundai is surprisingly fun to row through the gears. The shift action is a bit rubbery, with somewhat long throws, but the clutch action is progressive and forgiving — perfect for drivers new to the pleasures of the traditional manual transmission.

2018 Hyundai Accent SE center stack

That engine does create an audible ruckus when wound out, and there is a good amount of wind roar across the A-pillar. It’s no worse than anything you’d hear from other cars at this price point, however.

2018 Hyundai Accent SE interior

The suspension does transmit road noise from uneven pavement as well, but it’s not unbearable. The ride, however, is quite good for such a small car, helped no doubt by the sensibly-sized 15-inch steel wheels with 65-series tires, whose tall sidewalls help soak up those tarmac imperfections even if they somewhat amplify the noise.

2018 Hyundai Accent SE dashboard

Of course, you can always just turn up the stereo. While it’s not a powerful system designed to attract audiophiles, with just four speakers the sound quality from terrestrial radio or Bluetooth streaming is plenty good. I didn’t test the CD player — sorry, I honestly don’t know where any of my CDs are, and I’m not about to subject myself to whatever Kidz Bop disc my mother-in-law foisted upon the kids. MP3s from my phone worked just fine to drown out the road. The small 5-inch screen is a little tough to navigate for my fat fingers — My cell phone has a larger screen! — but it works in a straightforward manner, just like all Hyundai infotainment systems.

2018 Hyundai Accent SE infotainment

Styling inside and out is relatively anonymous, though the corporate Hyundai hexagonal grille is well integrated into the design of the subcompact sedan. The Olympus Silver finish on my tester seems custom-mixed to blend into traffic. I’d pick something a bit more lively — Admiral Blue is quite striking, and seems to show off the contours a bit more. Inside, it’s black hard plastics everywhere, with just a splash of matte silver surrounding the display, the vents, and the shifter. It’s completely functional, but boring.

2018 Hyundai Accent SE front seat

I’d love to see an armrest fitted between the front seats, but it’s one of those bits that had to be chopped to get to a price point, I’m certain. Those front seats were surprisingly comfortable, fitted with hard-wearing fabric that seems easy to keep clean. The rear bench seat wasn’t quite as comfortable for adults — a lack of legroom is the big culprit, though a flat bench seat isn’t particularly plush — but the kids had no complaints sitting behind my wife and I.

2018 Hyundai Accent SE rear seat

I hate to sound like a marketingspeak copywriter, but the word that comes to mind when describing the Accent SE is value. A latte over sixteen grand is not a big ask for as much as you get, especially considering the 10-year warranty Hyundai offers. Add in the typical offers given by your local Hyundai retailer, and the Accent seems to be all the car one needs.

2018 Hyundai Accent SE rear quarter[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

81 Comments on “2018 Hyundai Accent SE Review – Car, Distilled...”


  • avatar
    TMA1

    Looks and sounds perfectly serviceable. Too bad they dumped the hatch, which would have made it more practical.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I am a big believer in cars of this sort. I put 100k trouble free, low cost miles on a 2011 Kia Forte LX, a close cousin to this car. Mine was a manual trans. too, but with manual windows and locks. I paid $14,600 for mine in May of 2011. The Forte is C segment however. While Accent is B segment, the way everything bloats over time, I would say they are comparable.

    I believe these are the cars for smart people…people who don’t believe in paying interest, or over 60 months… people who don’t worry about trying to impress strangers, and people who know good value when they see it.

    This is the kind of car people would buy if easy credit was not available.

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      I had an 08 Elantra in base, stick shift guise that was a remarkably good little car with the glaring exception of craptastic electric power steering. There were no worn parts, the system just had the feel of using a pool noodle to stir a cauldron of lukewarm cream of wheat. But that sore point aside, a good car.

      I could totally see myself driving something like an Accent or Forte in base trim with a manual if, for some reason, I had to have a new car but had little money and needed a warranty badly. I’d opt for the hatch were I in those straits, though. There is a tiny shred of cheap and cheerful in a base hatch, whereas an el-base-o car in sedan form feels a bit too much like you sold the last vestige of your soul by comparison.

      Speaking of Soul, the Kia Soul would probably make a lot more sense as a budget buy than an Accent or Forte, really. Must be why I see 10x as many Souls on the road as either of the others.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Yeah, the base Soul is just a few hundred bucks more, and has a lot more room and utility. Pretty much a no brainer, unless you just have to have a sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        I almost purchased a base 2011 Soul, but with the 1.6 in the Soul compared to the 2.0 in the Forte, and the fact that Forte returned better mpg, I went with Forte.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “I put 100k trouble free, low cost miles on a 2011 Kia Forte LX, a close cousin to this car. Mine was a manual trans. too, but with manual windows and locks. I paid $14,600 for mine in May of 2011.”

      I did that once, at which point my $15,000 Hyundai was creaking in cold weather, the seats were rattling, the valve covers were weeping all over the block, the engine was throwing occasional misfire codes, and it was worth about $3,000 – because who but the cheapest and most credit challenged among us would look twice at a used Hyundai?

      That epic depreciation undid nearly all of the screaming bargain that the car had seemed to be to begin with. Saving $5,000 over a Camcord up front turned into saving $1,000 over a Camcord over 100K, and a 100K Camcord isn’t nagging you to take the trade in hit every time you drive it either.

      Cheap cars ain’t.

      • 0 avatar
        tmport

        Did you remember to change the oil, coolant, etc? ;-) I say that only half in jest–that doesn’t seem to be a common experience, based on my reading of the Hyundai and Kia owners forums. Anecdotally, my 2006 Kia Spectra5 is still running well. In 11+ years of ownership, the only thing that needed to be done apart from routine maintenance was a failed O2 sensor at year 7.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          Nothing but oil and coolant once on the schedule for a car that young, and also inexplicably the fuel filter every 30K – which was mounted inside the tank and nobody actually did – and none of the problems that I had seemed to be related to those.

          5A transmission felt like it slipped in cold weather, fluid looked so-so so flushed at 60K and bad behavior went away. Dealer claimed they couldn’t duplicate it so no warranty coverage.

          Rear calipers crudded up with road grit badly enough to start dragging about every other winter, learned this with a new set of rotors the first time, they all did this to the extent that there was a class action lawsuit which never went anywhere.

          Power steering made bad noises, did the turkey baster partial flush a couple of times and bad noises went away. Outside of 5/60 so didn’t try.

          Leaky valve cover gaskets, they all did it and most of them wept worse than mine and would flow down over and crud up the alternator too. Hyundai changed the gasket design a couple of years in but warranty wouldn’t cover so lived with the leak.

          Power window broke, cable corroded because outer door skins weren’t sealed and fill up with road salt and grime. They all do it. Easy fix but outside of 5/60.

          Ate front ball and control arm joints like candy, this would have gotten expensive without Rock Auto.

          Ate window and mirror switches, dealer replaced two of them under warranty and I swapped them two more times.

          Multiple Random Cylinder Misfire code followed by limp mode, only happened once, just shy of 100K, dealer wanted $200 to even diagnose it outside of 5/60, this felt like foreshadowing of a four figure bill on a near worthless car so cleared the code and dumped it while it was still worth anything at all.

          It never stranded me and nothing expensive had actually happened yet but between the hints on a car that shouldn’t be hinting yet and a dealer that was as good as a brand selling $15,000 cars would have you expect I sure wouldn’t ever buy another.

          • 0 avatar
            R Henry

            It remains a mystery how one person enjoys 10 years of trouble-free service while the person who gets the very next car off the line suffers countless frustrations. I have been on both sides of the equation….and, as a result, have been angry with GM since 1997.

          • 0 avatar
            R Henry

            It remains a mystery how one person enjoys 10 years of trouble-free service while the person who gets the very next car off the line suffers countless frustrations. I have been on both sides of the equation….and, as a result, have been angry with GM since 1997.

          • 0 avatar
            JonBoy470

            My wife and I have had two Accents. First was a 1999 she had bought new. First year they did the 10/100k warranty. Dealer put a new tranny in it at 19k because no one ever thought to do the tranny recall on it until after the unit was beyond salvaging. Whatever, it was under warranty. Aside from that, it needed a new alternator and a new valve cover gasket, both under warranty, and I chewed up three seat belt assemblies, also under warranty, installing infant car seats to the required tightness. The CV axle boots are made of some shitty crepe paper/Duroplast composite that gave out after 7 years with a giant ring of grease splatter on the back side of the engine block, but no worries because the joints themselves were apparently made of some adamantium/vibranium/unobtainium alloy with unicorn piss/Super Serum blend for lubricant. I was at 15k miles and counting on the blown cv axle when I ran afoul of the “Turn around, don’t drown” rule and submerged it while it was running. A/C blew cold until the end though there were some electrical gremlins from bad grounds. The car didn’t cost me a dime in unscheduled repairs until it was over a decade old.

            Second one was an 04, bought from a curbstoners who got it from a Chevy dealer who got it (I believe) from a single mom from Florida when it was already 10 years old. That car was less good to me. Same shitty/awesome CV axles. Electrical was less finicky (except the radio) and the A/C gave out too. Once I figured out an entire can of Freon would only get it to blow cold for about 3 hours, I gave up on fixing it. Valve cover gasket was leaky but was an easy fix.

            Overall they struck me as being great cars that cost *me* next to nothing to keep running, until they get to the 10 year mark, at which point they start going to hell in a hand-basket. Mechanical design was reminiscent of a cheaply made knockoff of Toyota’s from half a decade prior. Easy to work on. Parts are cheap. Of course old Camrys keep going forever. They just get uglier as time goes on. That would be my go to for my next cheap beater.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        As always, it depends…on many factors…such as how much money you have to spend at time of purchase…or what sort of finance deals are available. As with most things, the devil is in the details….

    • 0 avatar
      Kenn

      “I believe these are the cars for smart people…”

      I believe smart people realize that to be happy, long-term, one must consider not only absolute efficiency in satisfying basic needs (as with a bargain-basement car), but what you want, emotionally, as well. Fulfilling only one or the other leads to perpetually desiring something else.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    These cars have come a long way. The first newish car I got (after a couple Ford Rangers) was a 1992 Saturn SL I got in 1994 wih like 10,000 miles. The only option was AC. No power steering, 5 Speed only, No Passenger Side Mirror, AM/FM radio, hand crank windows and 85 hp. It was nice enough though.

    This car would have been a fully loaded model back then (You could still get fully loaded cars with a manual). A fully loaded Saturn in 94 (I worked at a dealer back then) had power windows and mirrors, a sunroof, cruise, a cassette deck with a 5 band eq (CD was offered, but I only saw 1), and leather. You could get either transmission.

    To get a true base model in the old schoo tradition I think you have to go truck. I know a couple of years ago one could get a Frontier with a manual, AM/FM/CD (No bluetooth, no cruise or auto lights, and roll up windows.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Actually, it was power mirror…singular. The passenger side was power, the driver side was “remote”…it had one of those little joysticks to move it.

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      I had several S-Series cars, the best of which was a 2000 SL2 with a stick shift, PW and PL, and without the dreaded spun sugar Saturn sunroof. The DOHC engine paired with the stick shift was pretty fun to drive, actually, as far as cheap cars go.

      The ones to get were the 00+ cars, by that time many of the kinks were worked out and they were the most refined of any of them, if you can use the word refined in reference to an S car. The early cars arguably looked better, but were chintzier than the later S series, worse NVH control, etc. As with many things, the last of the line are probably the ones to have, with all the lessons learned over time having been incorporated by that point.

      Eventually, about 6 or 8 years ago, the supply of well cared for S cars dried up in my area. The only thing left now are totally ragged out examples on their fourth owner. The last two owners not giving a rat’s behind about maintenance, instead milking the last iota of use out of them. I do still see a fair number of S series still rolling, considering the newest ones left are over 15 years old now.

      If a pristine SW2 with a manual came up on the local Craigs, I’d be temped to snag it for a dirt cheap third car.

      BTW, you can still get a fairly basic Frontier, I think. Crank windows, stick, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      Funny that this article made so many of us (well, three, at least) think of Saturns. I had a ’98 SL2 that I hated at first, then grew to love. 2450 lbs, 5 sp stick, 124 hp, quick enough to be fun, totally inconspicuous in a dark silver, dead-nuts reliable. The perfect commuter car. I ran it to 186k miles, then sold it to a coworker who gave it to his 16-y.o. daughter, who rolled it in a ditch (she walked away uninjured).

      This Accent sounds like the closest thing I’d find in the new-car market.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The S-Series were good cars and great beaters, I have two myself.

        • 0 avatar
          syncro87

          Since we’re on a Saturn tangent, allow me to reflect on the joys of the S series poly body panels.

          Those things were great. Sure, you had panel gaps you could knock a ping pong ball through, but that was beside the point. Those things were pure genius from an ownership standpoint. Shopping cart smashes into your car at the grocery store, no worries. Vandalism, your car gets keyed, etc? Zero problem. A visit to the salvage yard to find some same-color pieces, and you are tip top again.

          My wife drove our SW2 for a while, and a lady side swiped her in a parking lot, scuffing the two driver’s side door panels badly. The offender was kind enough to find my wife and admit to the damage, amazingly. Anyway, her insurance cut me a check, and I found an S series of identical color at a salvage yard an hour from home. Drove down, negotiated a price, unscrewed the panels, and bam, car was like new again in a jiff. Insurance check pocketed aside from the bucks for the used parts. No welding, no painting, etc.

          I’m amazed nobody has duplicated the Saturn polymer body panel system. I’d seriously consider paying a premium on my next car if I could opt for those “plastic” bits instead of sheet metal skin. No door dings, easy swap out, etc. I remember the Saturn salespeople punching the sides of showroom cars to the amazement of potential customers, who would see the panel pop right back into normal position.

          It must be tons cheaper to stamp metal parts than to mold the same thing out of polymer.

          28 Days. When you get ready to sell that cream puff manual SW2 someday, you know where to find me. :)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @syncro87

            I think the polymer system was brilliant, but in addition to being expensive for Saturn Corp to produce, it was too good. These two factors are why it was not repeated IMO, and today I believe cost would be less of an issue.

            They are both auto SL2 sedans, the cleaner of which I will never part with if I can help it. Best beaters for true urban driving.

          • 0 avatar
            deanst

            My neighbor actually backed into the side of my Saturn – the only damage was a slight dent in the metal gas door. At its age it probably would have been a right off if it was metal.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          My brother just worked on a co-worker’s ’98 SW with 290k miles and a bad oil-eating habit. The guy bought it some years ago for $900 when it had 180k miles (it had the trans replaced at 140k ish). He figures he spends about $8/month in synthetic oil to keep it topped up, aside from that it has needed nothing in the past 100k miles up until he took it to my brother for a overheating condition and a battery drain issue. Easily and cheaply resolved: the door unlock button spring broke causing it to constantly be actuated, and the auxiliary electric cooling fan had finally worn its motor out. New AC Delco fan for like $25 and he was good to go. These S-series Saturns are on par with old Corollas for longevity, and stay looking better longer owing to their plastic body panels. That guy might just be the all-time champ for low-TCO.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          I had a 1999 SL. I bought it in Pensacola for $1350 off eBay. 0 options. It was bought new in Washington state by a Navy guy (which is how it ended up in P.cola) and didn’t have factory A/C. I replaced the tires, plugs, wires and front brakes, drove it about 30k miles, and sold it for $1500 on craigslist. Selling a no-A/C car in the deep south was a miracle in itself, but I think I did pretty well. It was starting to use oil pretty good (~160k), and the seats killed my back (main reason for selling it), but it got a consistent 40 MPG and did its job pretty well.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I can achieve high mileage in consistent highway driving but can barely scrape 23mpg in city with the auto. The cleaner of the two has new everything (sensors, fuel filter, theromstat etc) in a vain attempt to up the mileage.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            28 cars some basic diagnostics with reading the O2 sensor readings could be worth it for you rather than loading up the old parts cannon. My bro is just a several hour drive for you ;)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Hmmmmmmm don’t know if I changed the O2 sensor.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            28, I mean reading fuel trims off of the O2s to see if you’re running rich or if the car is trying to compensate for some kind of exhaust or vacuum leak. I’m always a fan of an hour spent on qualified diagnostics ($75-100) rather than throwing hundreds in guesses.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            In my situation unless something is obvious on the OBDII reader I’m going to spend that money and yield little as the otherwise competent folks who work on my cars are not particularly gifted, esp with “computers” who are the devil.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Stuff like this is why I keep an Ultragauge plugged into my daily. 99% of the time it’s useless trivia, but an unexplained drop in instant mpg was an early hint at a sticking caliper.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            You can program a scanguage to display fuel trims too. And I hear ya, truly qualified diagnosticians are far and few in between.

        • 0 avatar
          "scarey"

          @28carslater—I remember you ! When you drove by, my friends and I used to say “Look at that S-car go !”…LOL

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    Every time I’m given a Hyundai as my low-cost rental car I come away satisfied by its ease of use and simplicity. Can’t say the same about Nissan or Chrysler, and while Toyotas aren’t bad, they sure seem to try too hard these days.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I’ve had much the same experience with H/K over the last few years especially since they’ve figured out suspension tuning. My rental Optima FE/LX got me 43mpg without really trying too hard either. No glaring faults or shortfalls, just a super competent sedan for a very aggressive real world price. Seemed really well screwed together too.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      So true. I just had a Elantra as a rental last week (in an awesome metallic blue color) and it just works. Everything is where it should be, no surprises, nothing odd or annoying. Just wish it would stay in sport mode so you didn’t have to cycle thru normal and eco every time you start it up.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        @ JMII – There’s a pretty darn positive review of the current-gen Elantra on SavageGeese: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVjLFpuq1cY. As a “keep it 10 years-plus” kind of car person, I really like the fact that it has port injection, a conventional automatic, and no turbo.* (Accents are DI-only, I believe.) And I like that Hyundai has the chutzpah to call one of the trims “Value Edition.” (Furthermore, that’s the one I’d choose.)

        – – –
        *I’m pretty turbo-agnostic at this point, as a good friend has racked up 150,000+ miles on a Volvo I5 turbo. All things being equal, though, I’d trade the snail for 500cc of displacement in the interest of keeping things as simple as possible.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        The Elantra Sport is another excellent option. Is it as good as a GTI? Absolutely not. But then again, around here, you can pick up the Elantra for $19-20,000, so the question really becomes: is a GTI $4-5,000 better?

        As a likely GTI buyer, I’m not sure I could really answer “yes” to that last question.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          I am sucker for plain interiors. If you need a manual or have to hunt for a button to activate a feature you’ve failed at interior design IMHO. This becomes painfully obvious when you rent often and find yourself in various makes/models at odd hours after being stuck on plane way too long. Some vehicles require a de-coder ring of sorts to figure out how to tune the radio or set the cruise control. For example Ford’s Sync system and pretty much every new Honda. However H/K products are always super easy to figure out. GM has been getting better while Toyota is getting worse.

          For example the Elantra has two 12V outlets, a USB port and AUX port all tucked into center cubby (that will also hold your phone) with a door that slides smoothly to cover them when not in use. Its simple but super effective. It doesn’t feel or look cheap either.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      I had a Hyundai Accent rental recently, and I was highly amused and pleased to see that it was the only car I have driven in a long time without a SINGLE button on the steering wheel besides the horn. Wow, it was really refreshing in a strange way! Total simplicity of purpose … THIS IS CAR. YOU STEER CAR, CAR MOVES YOU.

      Here is the wheel:
      http://1-photos5.motorcar.com/used-2017-hyundai-accent-sesedanautomatic-11859-17427425-21-800.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        WallMeerkat

        I have a buttonless wheel on a fairly basic 2013 Skoda (VW group).
        I actually miss the audio controls from my old Saab (even if the audio system was useless).

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Jalopnik has as favorable a review of a family “appliance” for the Sonata.

      https://jalopnik.com/the-2018-hyundai-sonata-is-the-most-user-friendly-car-i-1826831954

      In addition to the cosmetic changes, the MCE upgraded chassis bits and the steering feedback.

      That being said, think the next gen Sonata (and Optima) w/ the Le Fil Rouge styling will be a significant upgrade all-around.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Glad to see Hyundai pairing cruise control with manual transmissions these days, it used to be a strange gap on their spec sheet where it was literally impossible to get an accent or rio or soul with a stick and cruise. This sound very close in spec and power and weight (even tire size) to my 2012 Civic LX. That car had a wonderful shifter though. I’m willing to bet this accent rides better than my Civic did however. Having gone down the cheap stick shift economy car route, in hindsight I would have spent just a bit more and gotten a heavily discounted midsize car. MPG is close enough to not matter, but you get an appreciable amount more comfort and room. Back in 2012 when I was shoppping there wasn’t this sedan apocalypse going on Howe we and none of the midsizers were really that heavily discounted. These days I’d go right to an Optima LX or Fusion, drive a few hundred miles to snag the best deal. Then again if this Accent were discounted to $11-12k, even a dirt cheap $16-17k optima would be a big budget stretch.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I checked the nearest Hyundai dealer’s website and their advertised price on the Accent SE (only automatics in stock) is $11,500.

      Lowest priced Elantra sedan listed is $12,700. Lowest Sonata is $15,800. Lowest Kona is $15,800.

      I’ve never done business with them so I’m not sure what games (if any) they play, but I’m guessing those prices are in the ballpark.

      • 0 avatar
        Drew8MR

        An auto would be awful in this car though.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          While I personally would insist on a stick shift in a subcompact/compact if at all possible, I do think automatics in this smaller/lower-power class of car have gotten dramatically better in the last decade. The cars generally have more power, and the automatics seem to be much better at using more torque converter lock-up to feel more direct and sap much less power than before. For some in this class, the stick shift leaves you buzzing at high revs on the highway, the automatic if nothing else cuts down on NVH on the highway.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    This car should sell for $12,800 -$13,200 OTD new in the U.S., will have a 3-year real world residual value of something close 46% (so this car could be bought in 2021-2022 with 25,000 to 45,000 miles on the odometer for $6,500 to $7,800, depending on condition.

    And on 15″ wheels with sidewall, a peppy engine, a gauge cluster and interior aesthetics and quality of trim that’s better than almost all Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors (GM) vehicles costing 2x-3x as much (along with reliability that’s probably 300% better than Guangzhou Motors, and likely as good as Toyota, and better than Honda or Nissan), it’s THE KILLER APP for savvy buyers wanting a stealthy, economical, comfortable, affordable, reliable, subcompact that rides and accelerates better than much of the competitions compact offerings, especially for those looking to keep it for 8-12 years.

    The key would be having the knowledge, experience, and no-BS tolerance negotiating skills to wipe the stank off the Hyundai salesperson, and get it for that $12k to $13k price, walking right past the F&I office, in under 75 minutes or less as a done deal.

    HIT ‘EM WHERE THEY AIN’T, YO!

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      I can’t say I disagree with you.

      I might take it a step further, and say that the key might be finding a slightly used stick shift variant, and then proceed with your plan to wipe the stank off, etc.

      A used, manual transmission, base model Hyundai sedan is really poor merchandise from the standpoint of the average used car manager. If someone comes in and expresses serious interest in buying the one rotting on their lot, they’ll do practically anything to make that car go away. They have 10 people a day coming in looking for used Kia Souls or the like with an automatic, but stick shift econo sedans, very tough to sell these days.

      Not too many years back I used the approach you mention to snag a very aggressive deal on a 5 speed fourth-generation Elantra (used). I had cash in hand, and was probably the only person in ages they’d had who 1) had the means to actually buy it on the spot and 2) had showed any interest in it at all since goodness knows when. I gave them a pretty ridiculous lowball, betting that they had to be desperate to get the thing off their lot. Without too much effort, I got the thing without coming up a penny from my original offer. It became obvious to the manager that I was ready to buy, but was just as ready to leave. With a car like that, any savvy used car manager knows they have a very limited number of opportunities to retail a car like that Elantra in today’s climate.

      If I would have had more discipline, I would have driven the wheels off that thing for the next 5 years, costing me a pittance, since I had not much more than a song invested in it. That little car was rock solid, no squeaks or rattles, had zero mechanical issues. Unfortunately, I’m too picky, and the horrendous electric power steering Hyundai was sadistically sticking into the Elantras of that era wore me down. I sold it on Craigs a year or so later, when it became apparent I was either going to drive it into a brick wall or sell it. Still, didn’t lose any money, given the low buy in.

      One thing I did learn. I’ve sold a lot of cars over the years, many on Craigs. I can’t remember the last time I advertised a car and had so little interest. The thing was damage free, maintenance up to date, cosmetically near perfect, no issues. Still, I got hardly any response to my ad despite pricing the car appropriately. Any Honda, Toyota, or VW (even my Foci and Saturns) I had prior would have generated 5x the emails and test drives. Nobody wanted that Elantra. It was tough to sell, and by the end, I was getting a touch nervous. The tables were turned, and I was in the position the used car manager had been a year before. 5 year old stick shift Hyundai sedans are not as good of merchandise as the same thing with a Toyota or Honda badge on the trunk. Not even close. The car was, steering aside, just as good, but the perception among the buyer base was that it was second rate. It wasn’t a price issue…just that the perceived market value of such a car was just about nothing.

      I learned something about brand equity with that sale.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        synchro it took me a while to sell my 2012 Civic on craigslist back in 2016, partly a function of the pool of people on CL with $11k in cash is slim, but I think also the manual transmission was a major factor. I was patient and ultimately did get my asking price, but I’m not used to waiting a month to sell. The biggest surprise for me was selling my ’97 Ranger (low miles of the year, also stick). I had people practically beating down my door at $2500, even though that was near the top of the market for that year and basic rwd spec. A bit of orbital buffing went a long way in that case!

        • 0 avatar
          syncro87

          gtem, I think you are on the money…and speaking of money, I think price range is important. The market for $10k cars is a lot different than $5k cars. There are a fair number of people who can scrape together 4-6k to buy a car with cash. There are dramatically fewer that can come up with ten grand to buy a car from an individual. Doubling the price from $5k to $10 does not cut the buyer pool in half, it might cut it by a factor of three or four when it comes to private sales. Those higher price buyers need financing, which for most people is too much of a PITA to arrange for a private sale, so they go to dealerships.

          The manual was definitely a barrier to sell the Elantra, but my manual Vee Dubs, Hondas, etc, had the same albatross but sold pretty easily. The guy who ended up buying the Elantra (for not too much more than half what your Civic brought) from me specifically mentioned to me, after did the deal, that the reason he was looking for an Elantra was that he felt they were able to be had for a bargain price since they were less than prime merchandise. In other words, he wanted to avoid the Honda/Toyota badge tax.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Agree in full on the correlation of price and buyer pool and how dramatically it shrinks. This spring I sold my ’03 Pilot EX-L for just a bit less than asking ($5000 on a $5250 asking price), it took two and a half weeks and again I was pricing myself into the high end of the market based on year/miles. But the buyers could tell it was a quality car with a known history versus the auction fodder I was competing against.

            My brother’s daily is a ’96 5spd Mystique he bought with 240k miles on the clock from the original owner who maintained it spectacularly. Beige paint in GL trim with hubcaps and brown interior. He bought it for $500 after the previous owner was not able to even get a single buyer to come look at it when it was listed on CL for $500. More recently this same guy listed his ’98 Passat 2.8 +stick with 209k miles for $750 and it was gone in an instant. I actually wish I jumped on that one knowing how well the guy maintained his ‘keeper’ vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Excellent post, and consistent with my many experiences in negotiating buying and selling vehicles, from lower end vehicles, to higher end ones, or helping to do so for family members or friends.

        This Elantra is IDEAL for an under-the-radar person, college student, or anyone on a modest income, who wants a reliable, economical, well-assembled, durable, low-maintenance, durable vehicle (and it even has some standard features that would’ve been optional on much, much higher priced, higher end vehicles just 10 years ago).

        And with a person who can buy this for cash money, which the dealership calls a “deadbeat” and hates because they can’t make any money off the deal (they’ll likely sell under their true invoice price), going in at the right time of month and year can really result in an epicly low OTD price.

        This car really is better than the equivalent almost anything from any other manufacturer, whether Toyota, Honda, Ford, GM* (given), Nissan, etc., at a lower price, and with a much better warranty.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          The one to get is the Elantra Sport (despite the premium).

          Wouldn’t say that the Elantra is better than the Civic (maybe the next gen model or the new Forte).

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Hyundai steering is way too light, I’d lose my mind if I was subjected to it daily.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I think they’ve fixed that. I had a ’16 Elantra as a rental last year, and the steering was pretty firm in sport mode.

      Things change fast with Korean cars.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Sport mode does help. Its even noticeable on something like a Kia Soul which becomes somewhat enjoyable to drive despite being a tall, boxy vehicle once you firm up the wheel. I honestly think H/K vehicles are better then most GM vehicles which tend to be too light with a dead zone in the middle.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Actually, pretty much everybody has long forgotten the Hynundai Excel of the 1980’s. It’s only due to the constant re-beating of that very dead horse on the part of automotive journalists that it ever returns to public consciousness every so often.

    At which point it’s forgotten again, until some other journalist insists on bringing it back again.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Well, you certainly won’t be reminded of one by seeing it on the road. Their excellent quality (yes, sarcasm) made that a near impossibility.

      Besides, this is the car that occupies the same place as the Excel did, and it was their first car to be sold here (U.S.). Seems perfectly reasonable to bring it up.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Not sure if this new generation Accent has it, but the previous generation had a battery saver feature on the upper trims that shut the headlights off if you forgot. I used it as my automatic headlights.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    This looks to be a …I was about to say “fine” car, but on further reflection, I will say that it looks to be a good car and a wise choice. My first *almost* new car was a Chevy Vega with an AM radio and a heater for options. It was the *newest* car that I could afford at the time, being a full-time student and part-time worker. I traded it for a Mustang before any of the bad things that happened to Vegas happened to it.
    Anyway, it got be to school and work for two years until graduation when I got full-time employment and could afford a different car. This Hyundai looks like it would perform as well, but with more safety and comfort.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Christ on a bike this thing is nearly 50% off in *one* model year. Holy depreciation Batman!

    Go forth loyal followers to your Hyundai dealer and explain you won’t pay a dime over 10,5 for ye lowly Accent (10,5 being *extremely* generous).

    2017 HYUNDAI ACCENT 4D HATCHBACK SE

    BASE MMR
    $9,725

    Avg Odo (mi)
    26,900

    Avg Cond
    4.1

    Typical Range
    $8,975 -$10,500

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      BOOM!

      An the sweetener is that they are fairly stout, reliable, durable, (relative to their segment) refined vehicles that feel solid and modern, inside and out.

      It would be really smart for Hyundai to make independent rear suspension and 4-wheel disc brakes standard on these, as it would not cost Hyundai more than $200 max, to do so, and would make the ride quality top of the subcompact class by a wide margin.

      They could also use approximately $10-$12 (their cost)/20-28 pounds worth of injected foam for extra
      sound dampening, for the same reason (it would even further separate this as much better than any competitor at the same or near price, let alone real world transaction price).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I agree because yes you should care about your end product, but neither change is going to help new sales or resale. The initial pricing is too out of line, this is a 13K and a half car, 16 + auto is too high and the market agrees.

        Despite America’s best warranty*** Hyundai in general has a resale problem.

        ***= I’ve heard of instances where they won’t pay and I believe the warranty is only extended to the initial owner and not transferable.

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

          The 10/100,000 powertrain warranty is for the initial owner only; it reverts to 5/60,000 after that, the same term as the transferable “bumper to bumper” coverage.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        DW, I am intrigued by the idea of buying one of these, taking it immediately to a detailer and paying them $500 to install about 50 pounds of Dynamat and foam into the floorpan, doors and A-pillars. Noise is the only real deal breaker against DD’ing one of these.

        I know that never really happens, because 1) anybody buying one of these is allergic to spending the extra $500, and 2) anybody concerned with NVH will simply move up to a bigger car. But it theoretically makes the car more livable and an even better long-term value, IF the idea was to keep it.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      2017 is the previous generation Accent, of course. There were probably epic rebates to sell off the last 2017s. But the point remains. Not a hot car on the used market.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Agree with previous posters that the worst enemies of the Accent are steeply-discounted KIA Souls and Elantras.

    I would have bought a Soul, but the mileage is abysmal compared to the other cars with this drivetrain. Sure, some of that is due to the boxy shape, but I can’t believe that is the whole problem.

    The Elantra starts $2k higher than the Accent, but at this moment, the Elantra has $1k more cash on the hood, making the effective price difference a measly grand. For credit buyers, that’s only an extra $20/month.

    It makes it difficult to create a valid argument for the Accent.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      @ eggsalad – Actually, it’s never difficult to create a valid argument for the subcompact. It’s, “I don’t care that the medium pizza is only $1 more than the small; I can barely finish the small as it is.”

      But I don’t necessarily disagree with you. Subcompacts are a great choice if you live in certain neighborhoods in, say, the Boston-DC corridor, Chicago, San Francisco, or so forth. If you live in suburbia or exurbia, a compact at almost the same price quite likely serves you better. I recall a friend’s shopping the 2nd-gen Fit for his mother but buying her a pre-facelift 9th-gen Civic because it was so steeply discounted. That’s an extreme example. The prices reflected that Fit’s being a critical darling to the point of hyperbole and that Civic’s being a critical whipping boy to the point of hyperbole. But your basic point remains: For a little extra money a given buyer may prefer the compact equation (slight hit in MSRP and city economy, better back seat flexibility and road-trip comfort, still not so big as today’s pretty-darn-large midsizes).

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Good to see the Accent get some respect – it’s a very, very solid little car, and it has been for some time now. As long as you keep your performance expectations in check, this should be a great little commuter.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I would pay the extra $6 to replace those black bezels with actual quarter panel windows. Aside from that, this is easily the most handsome subcompact for sale right now.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Am-Fm push button radio with 4 speakers. A/C. Tilt seats with cloth upholstery. Passenger side rear view mirror. Power windows and locks. Cruise control.Traction control, ABS and front disc. Bluetooth and USB port.Heck when I started driving most of those were available only in ‘luxury’ vehicles and some had not even been invented yet.

    And even the AM/FM radio and air conditioning, in your mother’s Corolla would have been ‘luxury’ options in many of the cars that we owned.

    Try an air cooled VW Beetle with zero options. Or an original Mini with zero options. They came standard with sliding windows rather than cranks and a wire/rope rather than interior handles to close the door.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I’m quite thankful for the “XLT” trim of my ’94 Ranger that gets me (in addition to some snazzy pinstripes and alloys wheels) the crucial additions of power steering and air conditioning. I kind of wish I had a power window on the passenger side because it is a heck of a stretch even across that compact cab to roll it shut once I turn on my now-chilly A/C :). Aside from that I don’t feel short-changed in any way from an options perspective. Now, a modern level of safety and even a pair of airbags, yeah that might be nice. But I can see out of it perfectly so no back up cams needed, no lane assist or any of that other nonsense. The features I like best are the sturdy steel bumpers and thicker sheetmetal and robust paint, 70 series tires and durable suspension. Oh and the stick shift makes it fun to zip around town in.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “I’d love to see an armrest fitted between the front seats, but it’s one of those bits that had to be chopped to get to a price point, I’m certain.”

    Keep both hands on the wheel until you need to change gears young man!

    ;-)

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    This is a great review, actually the best one on this site in a month. The car itself reminds of the NUMMI Geo Prisms of the early 90s.They were fairly peppy in a manual transmission car and seemingly well built. The Chevy store I used to lot boy as a teen moved quite a few of these.Corolla reliability at Chevy pricing.They never seemed to come in for warranty work.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ToolGuy: @Matt, “So I’m bailing so I can have a four-car garage and a big yard.” Are you actually...
  • EBFlex: “ Yeah, that Taycan really sucks at about everything it tries to do. What a POS.” I mean….when a used...
  • EBFlex: Oh thank god. Now that this liberal mouth breather has fox all of NYCs problems, he can focus on the real...
  • namesakeone: Can you extend the life of the car by installing a replacement fuel cell?
  • Lightspeed: SUVs are not my thing, but the last time I drove a Tahoe was a 2018 rental with the 5.3L and I loved the...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber