Ace of Base: 2019 Hyundai Accent SE

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

For some, dirt cheap wheels are all that’s required. Nothin’ fancy; nothin’ extra. Four tires and a steering wheel are the main requirements of these shoppers. Oh, and a warranty for worry-free driving. Anything further is just gravy. This outlook accurately describes about half of the Quebec market, by the way. Especially the gravy. Poutine is delicious.

Enter the Hyundai Accent. This entry-level Korean sedan has been finding its way into the hands of new drivers and frugal shoppers for 25 years now. As it turns out, even the base model of one of the cheapest new cars in America is laden with standard equipment.

Starting at a fiver under fifteen grand, the 2019 Hyundai Accent in SE spec is powered by a 130 horsepower 1.6-liter inline-four, exactly like every other Accent built for this model year. Ladling out extra cash for a more expensive trim will not net buyers any extra oomph. The base SE is equipped with a manual transmission as standard equipment; in fact, it’s the only trim in which a stick is offered. That alone is good enough to choose the base car.

Fifteen-inch steel wheels with cheapy wheel covers will announce your frugal ways to other commuters on the interstate, but surely the true Ace of Base connoisseur cares not one whit about the fop in that Range Rover looking down his nose at us, right? Sideview mirrors are color keyed, however. They’re even power operated. All colors are offered at $0.

Inside, the driver’s seat adjusts six ways, two more than the miserable econoboxes of this author’s youth. Back then, height adjustments were permanently set by way of gradually sagging seat springs. The base Accent does do without a driver’s armrest, which is a mark against it in the Ace of Base ledger. At least the rear seat is a split folding unit to open up more cargo space.

Huge news is the discovery that air conditioning is standard equipment on Hyundai’s least-expensive car. Thank you, economies of scale. That same budget truth means the company is content to make a single steering wheel for the entire range, ensuring even the most cost-conscious of Hyundai customers enjoy cruise control and audio controls on the wheel. Bluetooth is on board, as are power windows.

The two main knocks against this car are the vanishing driver’s armrest and rear drum brakes. I am an evangelist of four-wheel disc brakes, even though I know drums generally perform fine under normal use in a 2,500 lb econocar like the Accent.

If you can live with those two things, the 2019 Accent SE – with its air conditioning and manual transmission – can find a home in our Ace of Base trophy case.

[Images: Hyundai]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

More by Matthew Guy

Join the conversation
2 of 45 comments
  • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on Sep 19, 2018

    The drum brakes are to be expected, but for a base car this iant half bad. You even get a passengers side mirror and sun visor! The lack of an arm rest does stink but is to be expected on a cheap car. Does it come with map lights as well or is that an option?

  • Spike_in_Brisbane Spike_in_Brisbane on Sep 19, 2018

    I have a Mercedes S430 which cost the previous owner 10 times more than this Hyundai. It is 15 years old and has soft plastic all over the dash around the wood trim. It has all gone sticky and horrible. I WISH it were hard, durable plastic.

  • Ronin The very asking of the question "Are Plug-In Hybrids the Future?" is an interesting one. Because just 2 or 3 years ago we'd be asking- no, asserting- that E cars are the future. We're no longer asking that question.
  • Peter Benn There apparently were some K-code 4-dr sedan Fairlanes. Collectible Automobile Apr 2024 has found a '63 500 with HD 3/spd.
  • Mia Hey there!I recently stumbled upon the Crack Eraser DIY Windshield Repair Kit (check it out here: and decided to give it a shot on a small chip in my windshield. I have to say, it worked like a charm! Super easy to use, and it saved me a trip to the professionals. If you're dealing with a similar issue, this kit is definitely worth considering. 😊
  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.