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2014 Hyundai Accent SE Road Test

Who would have thought a subcompact could be so roomy?

What It Is
A subcompact hatchback that feels more expensive than its price tag.
Best Thing
Nimble handling and a simplistic interior.
Worst Thing
Intrusive road noise, even at slower speeds.
Snap Judgment
The 2014 Hyundai Accent SE pulls ahead in the subcompact segment.


The subcompact segment is continually growing, both in terms of volumes sold and amenities offered. As entry-level vehicles go, you expect to deal with a level of compromises. However, its finding the model with the least amount that makes a great choice.

Month after month, the 2014 Hyundai Accent has trailed behind the Nissan Versa and other subcompacts, but still manages to stay in the top five. With competitors like the all-new 2015 Honda Fit and other entries from Ford and Chevrolet in the way of the Fiesta and Sonic, respectively, the Accent has had to work its way up the ranks. With a laundry list of standard features and more personality than many of the top competitors, the Hyundai Accent adds a little spice to the segment. Read on to hear what we thought of the 2014 Hyundai Accent SE hatchback.

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What We Drove

Starting at just $14,645, the 2014 Hyundai Accent offers quite a bit for the money, and with some recent updates, it no longer feels as cheap as the price tag would suggest. We drove the SE model, which starts at $17,395 before destination fees, but we didn't feel the need to load it up with tons of extra features. The only additions were carpeted floor mats that tacked on an extra $110.

Powered by a 138-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, our test model came loaded with standard features, including a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, steering wheel-mounted controls, sport-tuned steering, premium cloth seating, and much more. Thanks to safety features like an array of airbags, active front head restraints, and ABS brakes with brake assist, the 2014 Accent earned a 4-Star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Commute

When navigating through the morning traffic, it helps when you can zip in and out of lanes. Thanks to the small size of the Accent, we were able to weave our way through traffic, aided by the great visibility the vehicle offered. While acceleration left a little to be desired, it got up to speed relatively quickly. The only thing that bothered us was the not-so-quiet interior. You could hear the engine working, even at city speeds.

As a fan of simple technology, I was happy to find an interior that was as free of technological distractions as possible in a modern vehicle. While the Accent still offered Bluetooth and satellite radio, there wasn't a large touchscreen or an onslaught of buttons and knobs to distract the driver from the road. It's easier to feel connected to the road when you're not pressing buttons on a screen.

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The Grocery Run

The trunk of the 2014 Hyundai Accent is surprisingly deceptive. When you look at the outside of the car, you can't help but think that there's going to be little to no room. However, when you open up that hatch, the trunk is deep and wide at 21.2 cubic feet, easily beating out the Toyota Yaris' 15.6 cubic feet and the Honda Fit's 20.6. Fold those rear seats down, and you jump from 21.2 to 47.5 cubic feet, letting you fit at least two weeks' worth of groceries.

While the Accent doesn’t come with a backup camera, you don't really need one. Visibility is great on this model, and with its small body proportions and sharp turning radius, you'll ease in and out of any parking spot. And just like with the trunk, the interior is very roomy. Passengers will find no shortage of head and legroom in the front seats, and while it may not be comfortable to seat three adults, the back row is plenty accommodating for two passengers.

The Weekend Fun

Subcompact cars aren't usually our first choice for a fun weekend ride, but when you have one that has great handling and a zippy personality, you learn to reevaluate your thought pattern. The 2014 Hyundai Accent is such a car. Although not technically a hot hatch, it surprisingly offers a decent amount of fun-to-drive qualities. You can throw it into corners and know that it will stick. While we don't recommend doing this at excessive speeds, when going around the city, we loved driving it a little more aggressively.

But when you get up to highway speeds, your thoughts get drowned out by the abundant road and engine noise. Getting up to speed sounds like a daunting task if you only listen to the engine. And even when coasting comfortably at 70 mph, that engine is still roaring. Yes, this is not a high-end car by any means, but we expected a little more sound deadening. Even its competition offers quieter interiors.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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Summary

After our week with the 2014 Hyundai Accent SE, we were pleasantly surprised. In the subcompact game, every little thing counts, and for the price, the Accent delivers. With great handling and fuel economy, as well as a distraction-free interior, we'd recommend this car be on the top of your list when shopping in this segment. Although the road noise was a bit intrusive at times, we feel there are definitely more pros than cons. However, we'd also say to check out the new Honda Fit as it offers a great package as well.

Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $18,315
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 27
EPA Highway: 37
EPA Combined: 31
Cargo Space: 21.2 cubic feet Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Excellent
Estimated Combined Range: 353 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Below Average

Notebook Quotes

"The Accent is a simple car, but that isn’t a bad thing. Its controls are easy to figure out, and its small size makes it zippy around corners. However, road noise that comes through the cabin may be a problem for some. " -Kelly Pleskot, Online Editor

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