Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Using the electrifying atmosphere of the 2017 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada as a backdrop, Hyundai showcased a cadre of accessorized rides to entice showgoers with their diverse vehicle platforms. The fire and fury from the collection of impressive customs included a 271-horsepower i30 N performance car and the indomitable Santa Fe Sport Moab Edition with 100 additional horses under the hood. After the noise died down round two of the SEMA excursion kicked off to incorporate a daylong test drive in the Valley of Fire with the 2018 Hyundai Accent which is now in its 5th generation.
As you know SEMA is the foremost automotive specialty products trade show in the world and attracts the aftermarket’s cleverest minds, fieriest vehicles, and hottest accessories to one locale. Rightly so, Hyundai utilized the timing to illustrate both their customization projects as well as to host a national media event of their latest and greatest.
The compact Accent sedan was a joy evaluating in Nevada’s first state park. Both commingled to offer me a meditative drive while my thoughts became free like the black tailed jackrabbit roaming the land. Especially since the vehicle is extremely quiet and rigid due to stiffening of the subframe. The Valley of Fire was serene as ever and hot as ever so the dual automatic temperature control was right on point. With 40,000 acres of ancient red Aztec sandstone outcrops settled in tan and gray limestone I could have driven the Accent forever. The little guy may have a diminutive frame but the cabin is quite roomy including adequate legroom and headroom. My build at 5’11” and 205 pounds had no problem behind the wheel.
Built in Monterrey, Mexico, the capital of the northeastern Mexican state of Nuevo León, the four-door Accent will only be offered as a sedan since Hyundai dropped the hatchback rendition. On sale for 24 years now the Korean automaker has sold a bit more than 1.2 million Accents since inception which is a testament to its consumer loyalty.
One of the key design points on the 2018 model is the new cascading grille reminiscent of the rest of the Hyundai family and sets the tone of the progressive vehicle lineage wielding in-house advanced high-strength steel. The grille is then embedded within a strong and dynamic front fascia featuring a nominal chin spoiler, projector headlamps with LED daytime running lights, and functional air curtains to reduce turbulence around the front wheels which ultimately helps with fuel economy. Wider and larger than the prior generation for a more stable stance, the Accent’s exterior also receives LED taillights, an aero decklid, power sunroof, and good looking 17” alloy wheels if you select the Limited trim. In addition, owners can opt for the hands-free smart trunk release that pops open when you approach the rear of the car with the key in hand. For balanced aesthetics the single exhaust is hidden under the bumper so you don’t get that odd look when dual pipes are not possible.
Micro power comes from a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine with 130-horsepower and 119 lb.-ft. of torque. Man, you sure can drive around for an extended amount of time before refueling and should never run into qualms parking. On most days I will sacrifice performance for convenience, especially if I’m attending an Eagles home game at Lincoln Financial Field and looking for a convenient spot to post up in. How many times have you missed kickoff because you couldn’t find convenient parking? While cruising on open roads the Accent strides with ease but when you need quick acceleration for merging or passing it only howls at you with minimal juice for propelling itself forward. My ride was a Limited model which was paired with the upgraded 6-speed automatic transmission. But get this, the small wonder also has torque vectoring! The SEL similarly receives the A/T while the base SE model flows with a 6-speed manual (5” color touchscreen). The Limited includes heated front seats, dual USB ports (slow charging however), a 7” display audio system, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. There is no navigation system therefore the Accent imports your smartphone’s routing and streaming audio features. This setup worked pretty seamlessly with Apple CarPlay.
Other cool technology features (depending on trim level) for a vehicle priced in the teens include steering wheel controls, cruise control, a proximity key with push button start, standard rearview camera with guidelines for parking, and Forward Collision-avoidance Assist which is a radar based automatic emergency braking system that will halt the vehicle before an impending accident. Smaller observations consist of a wide dead pedal, sporty steering wheel with thumb indentions, and manual seat adjustments.
Furthermore, at the owner’s disposal is Hyundai’s touted Blue Link Connected Services (three years complimentary) including Remote Start which can ultimately be operated through the Blue Link mobile app on your smartphone or a wearable devise such as the Apple Watch. Lastly, engineers integrated Alexa and Google Home into the system. An example of a command would be: “Alexa, tell Blue Link to start my car at 80 degrees” or: “Okay, Google, ask Blue Link to start my Accent and set the temperature to 72 degrees.” I do believe this auto-based AI would be very handy here in Maryland now that the weather is dropping. Well done Hyundai!