2020 Hyundai Accent

By April 3, 2020

The 2020 Hyundai Accent sedan is as basic and affordable as a car gets, and it’s well built for its price. For 2020 it gets even better, with a new powertrain. An improved inline-4 engine and new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) increase fuel economy by 4 miles per gallon, and that’s huge in a car that already got more than 30 mpg. The engine actually makes 10 less horsepower than last year, but the responsiveness of the CVT makes up for it.

The 2020 Accent also offers good standard equipment, a comfortable cabin with a surprising amount of interior and cargo space, and a great Hyundai warranty.

The 1.6-liter inline-4 hasn’t been changed in size, but it’s been improved for better fuel economy. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, while the new CVT replaces a 6-speed automatic. The front-wheel-drive Accent doesn’t exactly carve up canyons, but it soaks up bumps well, although the short wheelbase can make speed bumps seem bigger than they are.

Four adults can fit comfortably in the Accent, which boasts decent leg room and good head room for a small car. The seats leave room for improvement, with slim bolstering, and with small rear doors, entry and exit can be awkward. Fold-down rear seats vastly increase the Accent’s already ample trunk space. We were astounded by how much we were able to pack into one.

The 2020 Accent with the CVT is EPA-rated at 33 mpg city, 41 highway, 36 combined, while the manual transmission gets 29/39/33 mpg.

The 2020 Accent hasn’t been crash tested yet, but its structure is the same as the 2019, which was a Top Safety Pick of the IIHS, with “Good” ratings in every category except passenger-side front overlap and headlights, in which it scored “Acceptable.” Only the Limited model includes automatic emergency braking and other safety features.

Model Lineup

The Accent comes in SE, SEL, or Limited trims.
For about $16,000 the SE is well equipped, although the standard transmission is a 6-speed manual, though the CVT is an option for $1000. The SE comes with cloth upholstery, power features, cruise control, air conditioning, keyless entry, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, folding rear seats, Bluetooth connectivity, dual USB ports, a small 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with four speakers, halogen headlamps and plastic wheel covers over steel wheels. It lacks automatic emergency braking, but its 5-year, 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty is a strong selling point.
SEL models add the CVT as standard, plus automatic headlights, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a much-improved 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and six speakers.
At less than $20,000, the Limited might be the best value, adding automatic emergency braking, LED headlights and taillights, keyless ignition, a hands-free trunk opener, heated front seats, a sunroof, and 17-inch alloy wheels.


The Accent’s handsome lines defy the reality that it’s a subcompact. It looks classier than that. Still, there’s no apparent attempt by Hyundai to make it overtly shapely, as they do with other models. The Accent stays basic.

The grille is a curved trapezoid, and the taillights are three boomerangs.The Limited looks best, with its LED headlamps and 17-inch alloy wheels.


The cabin is reserved, or you might say prosaic. It’s conspicuously free of buttons and dials, while the controls are located in logical places. There are storage spots for things like smartphones and even large water bottles. The SE comes with a small 5.0-inch touchscreen, while the SEL and Limited models get a much better 7.0-inch screen front and center.

The SE and SEL have hard plastics and cheap cloth, and more bolstering would make the seats more comfortable. But the 2020 Accent is still comfortable enough for four adults. Head room is impressive for front and rear occupants thanks to the Accent’s bubble-shaped roofline, and height-adjustable seats allow room even for drivers and passengers taller than six feet. The SEL and Limited also get a tilt/telescope steering wheel, which helps more.

There’s satisfactory leg room in the rear, although the door openings are small. The cabin is quiet, except for a raspy engine note that creeps in during hard acceleration.

The trunk is bigger than that in a Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe, an impressive feat for such a small car, and with folding rear seatbacks that take down the wall to the trunk, the Accent makes room for things as long as six feet.

Driving Impressions

The power of the new engine is cut by 10 horsepower and 6 pound-feet of torque, to 120 hp and 113 lb-ft, but it’s scarcely noticeable, at least not with the new CVT. At just 2,500 pounds, the Accent is light enough that 120 horsepower can handle it. The engine can sound a bit raspy at full throttle, however not so much that it’s an unpleasant intrusion into the otherwise quiet cabin.

The ride is adequate on both 16- and 17-inch wheels, although big bumps hammer the Accent’s short wheelbase.

The steering and handling are predictable. The Accent is absent of any playful driving dynamics. Many other subcompacts are more fun to drive.

Final Word

As basic transportation, the 2020 Hyundai Accent is almost flawless. It gets fabulous gas mileage for a highly affordable price, and the warranty is best in the business. It has good lines and great cabin space. The power isn’t thrilling, but there’s enough to get the job of passing done, assisted by a sharp CVT. The handling isn’t spirited, but the ride is comfortable. If the seats were more comfortable, it would ace every category.


—By Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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