2015 Hyundai Accent vs. 2015 Hyundai Elantra: What’s the Difference?

If you’re searching for a new compact or subcompact car, Hyundai deserves a spot on your shopping list. The brand boasts excellent fuel economy, reasonable pricing and a notoriously long-lasting warranty. If you’re deciding between the 2015 Hyundai Accent and the 2015 Hyundai Elantra, you might be wondering what exactly makes the two small Hyundai models different. After all, both cars offer similar styling, similar fuel economy, hatchback or sedan body styles, and roughly the same equipment.

To help you understand the differences between the Accent and the Elantra and make it easier to figure out which one is right for you, we’ve created a close comparison of both models.

Exterior

On the outside, the Elantra and the Accent share some obvious styling touches, but it’s easy to see that the Elantra is the bigger of the two cars. Despite their similar appearances, the Elantra boasts larger headlights, more pronounced fenders, larger doors, and perhaps most notably, bigger wheels and tires. By comparison, the Accent’s wheels and tires look positively tiny.

It’s also worth noting that the Accent and Elantra have slightly different body-style lineups. While both offer 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback models, the Elantra offers a sporty 2-door coupe version, which is unavailable for the Accent.

Interior

Not surprisingly, exterior differences are largely carried over to the interior, where the Elantra boasts more room and more style than its fairly basic Accent stablemate. For example, the Elantra offers a larger center screen, a more stylish center control stack and improved materials on a wide variety of surfaces, such as its handsome leather gear-lever boot compared to the Accent’s unadorned shift lever. Hip room is also a big difference between the two cars, though rear-seat legroom is the easiest way to distinguish between the larger Elantra (which is fairly roomy) and the smaller Accent, whose back seat is best left for children.

Mechanicals

As you might expect, the Elantra offers more power than the Accent, but the power difference isn’t that big. The Accent’s standard engine is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder that makes 137 horsepower, while the Elantra offers a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder with 145 horses. With that said, the Elantra also offers an optional engine with a little more muscle: It comes in the Elantra Sport, and it’s a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 173 hp.

As for fuel economy, both cars are practically even: The Elantra tops out at 28 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, while the Accent’s best numbers are 27 mpg city/38 mpg hwy. The Elantra’s slightly better city fuel economy number likely has to do with its larger engine being less taxed when accelerating, since the weight difference between the Accent and Elantra is minimal.

Features & Technology

Although many brands offer roughly the same level of equipment between their subcompact and compact models, Hyundai isn’t one of them. In fact, stepping up to the Elantra includes a major boost in equipment, particularly in optional tech features, of which the Accent only has a few.

For example, only the Elantra offers a center-mounted touchscreen. Such a feature, which is optional in many of the Accent’s competitors (including the Chevrolet Sonic and Ford Fiesta), isn’t available on the smallest Hyundai. Neither is Hyundai’s Blue Link infotainment system. The Elantra offers a few other features that are also unavailable in the Accent, including keyless ignition with push-button starting.

In other words, although many subcompacts are light versions of larger models, with roughly the same equipment in a smaller package, that isn’t the case here. If you want the latest in technology and equipment, you’ll need to upgrade from the basic Accent to the more advanced Elantra.

Driving Experience

Despite differences in equipment, interior room and appearance, exterior design and available body styles, the Accent and Elantra offer roughly the same experience on the road. They both offer a fairly typical small-car driving feel: adequate but not impressive power, light steering, and acceptable braking and visibility. Compared to both rivals and each other, neither the Accent nor the Elantra especially stands out for driving pleasure, though we think that the Accent sounds a little noisier under hard acceleration, which is likely a function of its smaller engine doing extra work to keep the car moving.

Safety

Both the Accent and the Elantra offer all the basics, including side airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability and traction control. When it comes to safety equipment, however, the Elantra offers far more features. There’s a backup camera, for instance, which isn’t available in the Accent, along with Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, which touts remote access, theft recovery and emergency assistance.

Unfortunately, neither the Accent nor the Elantra boasts some of the latest safety gadgets offered by rivals, such as forward-collision alert, a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning or rear cross-traffic alert.

Conclusions

In many cases, subcompact cars are just compact cars scaled down, with less power, better gas mileage and lower pricing. They have similar styling and features. When it comes to the 2015 Hyundai Accent and the 2015 Hyundai Elantra, however, that isn’t the case. On the contrary, the Accent and Elantra offer roughly the same amount of power and the same gas mileage, but the Elantra offers far more equipment, including a navigation system, a touchscreen, a backup camera and a push-button ignition. The Elantra also offers modernized styling, both inside and out.

The Accent is designed for budget-minded shoppers looking for a basic car without the latest in technology or equipment. Everyone else should pay the extra money and get the larger, better-equipped Elantra with more features and roughly the same fuel economy.

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