Ditched Automatic Means MPG Boost for Hyundai Accent, Elantra

ditched automatic means mpg boost for hyundai accent elantra

For the 2020 model year, Hyundai’s subcompact Accent and compact Elantra ditch their six-speed automatics in favor of a continuously variable unit — a move that’s not likely to elicit too many cries of protest.

Honestly, given the models’ modest torque figures, a traditional slushbox hardly amounts to motoring bliss, and drivers stand to gain faster manual shifts with a CVT. They also stand to gain a significant bump in fuel economy.

For 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency rates the CVT-equipped Accent sedan at 33 mpg city, 41 mpg highway, and 36 mpg combined. Who needs a pricier hybrid? Compare these figures (first noticed by The Car Connection) to that of last year’s model, which carries a 28 city/38 highway/32 combined figure.

Interestingly, fuel economy rises for the manual transmission model, too, though not as noticeably. The three-pedal Accent’s MPG rating rises to 29 city/39 highway/33 combined for 2020, up from 2019’s 28/37/31. We’re waiting for word from Hyundai as to the reason for the improvement. While Hyundai has a family of “Smartstream” four-cylinders in the works, we weren’t aware that the 2020 Accent stood to gain one of these units.

Hyundai’s Smartstream engines boost fuel economy by optimizing thermal efficiency; a member of this family appears in the front-drive Venue crossover revealed at the New York Auto show.

As for the Elantra, ditching the six-speed auto spells a combined improvement of 2 mpg in models equipped with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Maximum combined fuel economy rises to 35 mpg in the Elantra SE, with other CVT-equipped 2.0L models rated at 34 mpg.

Currently, the EPA’s roster of tested 2020 Elantras is meager, with no word on the thirstiness of the Elantra GT or manual-transmission models.

[Image: Hyundai]

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  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on May 07, 2019

    I just spent the week with a 2019 Malibu LT and it's new CVT as a rental. What was remarkable was how unremarkable this drive train was in every day use. With the throttle pinned it simulates a normal automatic with revs up to about 5600 RPM and then down 500 and then back up to 5600 RPM. In normal driving it was surprisingly refined. I stop watched timed this car at 8 seconds 0-60 which was for me adequate but could be better and another 15-20 horses would work wonders here. MPG was 33.4 overall combined which I thought was quite good. I ran a 100 mile all highway jaunt at 73 MPH and the readout stayed around 41 MPG besting the EPA's rather low 36. Overall this one wasn't bad as far as CVT's go but reliability would be suspect until this new unit proves itself.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on May 07, 2019

    I am curious are the CVT transmissions lighter than an automatic with gears? If so could that be part of the reason they are more efficient and less expensive--less parts?

  • KevinB Because they sell every EV they make, and most of the time you need to be on a list to get one. That's why the cost of them isn't going down.
  • Oberkanone Cost of EV's will continue to increase as demand for materials to manufacture batteries increases. Owning a personal vehicle will only be attainable to the wealthy.
  • Kcflyer I think it's ugly. Unless they lengthened the cab the back row is still useless for me anyway. Price is proof that I may have purchased my last new vehicle
  • Ltcmgm78 I must laugh because this is an expansion of the old question of why car manufacturers don't build less expensive cars. There's no money in it! As long as virtue signalers have the long green to buy the pricier EVs, there won't be any affordable ones until most of the demand for the expensive ones are met. Economics, you know. New technologies always progress this way. The future Chevy Vega on the Ultium platform is a long way off.
  • Daniel J Also, the additional 20K is spread out over a loan, which could end up closer to 24K.
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