SENIOR ROAD TEST EDITOR NATALIE NEFF: No doubt, I'm a hatchback girl. Big or small, if my car has a liftgate and ample cargo space, it's a good assumption that I'll be at least satisfied with the ride. There are just too many situations in which I need the flexibility to haul objects and not be constrained by the space afforded by a traditional trunk.
Throw in a quality build, clear and easy to navigate controls, decent power and a not-embarrassing chassis, and I'm happy as a clam. This 2014 Hyundai Accent SE hits on all those points. It's by no means the peppiest wheels on the road, and the steering and suspension are a far cry from that of a track-spec car, but it's engineered well enough to not annoy at every turn. Certainly the four-banger could use more power, but it handles itself well enough, and at this price point, the car leaves me with little complaint from mechanical and performance standpoints.
Speaking of price, Korean cars these days might not be as aggressively (read: cheaply) priced as they used to, but when you factor in all the equipment you get at each trim point, they still offer about the best values on the road. This SE model, for example, includes premium cloth seat surfaces, tilt and telescoping steering wheel and steering wheel controls, Bluetooth connectivity and projector headlights among other things. Jake nails it below when he says that kids today are lucky: Cheap cars are a far cry from “cheap” anymore.
The 2014 Hyundai Accent SE comes in at a base price of $18,205 with our tester topping off at $18,315.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: This Accent is a great little hatch. I like the look, the performance is acceptable, the price is right and it even has a bit of utility.
The old Accent was crap. Since it was redesigned, this one looks right at home with Hyundai's other small offerings. I think it even looks better proportioned than the Veloster, which is like a sporty version of this.
The interior is plain and clean, exactly how you want a cheap car. The seat material looks kinda cool; much better than the stuff we used to get in economy cars. The radio connected to my phone quickly, and all the buttons and switches are easy to read and use.
The little four gets the car going in a decent amount of time. Of course, I'd like a little more power, but for 18 grand, what do you expect? If you put it to the floor you can pass people, and really, what else do you need. I'm sure the Accent would be a little more fun with the stick shift. Sure, it's a little loud in the cabin on the expressway, but again, at this price point, no problem.
I'm actually a little jealous of kids these days. Actually a lot jealous. Besides the unbelievable technology that they were born with, even small, inexpensive cars like this offer literally everything you need to get from Point A to Point B.
The 2014 Hyundai Accent SE is equipped with a 1.6-liter I4 that cranks out 138 hp with 123 lb-ft of torque.
2014 Hyundai Accent SE
ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: It's true that this 2014 Hyundai Accent SE offers good value for the money with all the aforementioned features Natalie lists above and a respectable drivetrain turning the front wheels. And, yes, more power is always welcome, but we have to remember that this little direct-injected four-cylinder is rated at 138 hp, which ties it for having the most power in the B-segment when you consider the nonperformance-focused competition in the class, which means excluding the 197-hp Ford Fiesta ST. The other two cars that are packing 138 ponies, too, are the Accent's cousin car the Kia Rio and the Chevrolet Sonic with the turbo engine.
The Accent gets off the line well enough, but transmission shifts are on the slow side of things. Hyundai has always come up short with its suspensions and it's the same here in the Accent. With MacPherson struts front and torsion beam rear, which is common among the B-segment vehicles in the market, the Accent doesn't seem to handle bigger bumps as well as, say, the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa Note I drove recently. It does absorb impacts from small road imperfects fine and is well behaved through corners with an acceptable amount of body roll.
Steering response is alright, but feel and feedback through the wheel are lacking. Just for kicks, I did toss the Accent around some and had a good time plowing through corners with the 14-inch Hankook Optimo tires doing their best to maintain grip. When rolling on decent condition roads, the Accent rides fine and is comfy enough.
It's not the best-looking car in the class. I personally like how the Rio looks better. Inside there's a lot of hard plastics around that don't look cheap. Controls for climate and audio are all intuitive to use. Nothing stands out in the cabin of this Accent, but nothing is offensive, either. Seats are flat and would benefit from more side support and maybe some more sound insulation, because it does get a little loud in there on the expressway like Jake said.
Personally, my pick in this class is the Mazda 2 or the Honda Fit for their sportier driving personalities. The problem there is that the Mazda 2is lacking in the available features department and a comparably equipped Fit costs a little bit more money. To add some spice to the Accent, you can opt for the six-speed manual transmission and save yourself $1,000 in the process for not getting the automatic. That would be my suggestion if you ultimately decided that you wanted the Accent. But before you do sign on the dotted line, I think taking a test drive in a Fit or a Ford Fiesta would be a wise thing to do.
Base Price: $18,205
As-Tested Price: $18,315
Drivetrain: 1.6-liter I4; FWD, six-speed automatic
Output: 138 hp @ 6,300 rpm, 123 lb-ft @ 4,850 rpm
Curb Weight: 2,555 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 27/38/31 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 24.8 mpg
Options: Carpeted floor mats ($110).
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