The 2020 Hyundai Accent is back for the new model year with some great news for economy-minded buyers: it boasts an all-new powertrain that increases gas mileage considerably. For the first time, the Accent comes with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and Hyundai's proprietary Smartstream engine, a 1.6-liter four-cylinder. The lineup of three trims offers a good mix of modern features and practicality - for example, the base model still comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission for old-school shifters.


Compared to other front-wheel-drive economy cars, the Accent is noted for a quiet cabin, which is a bonus alongside its very accessible MSRP ($15,195) and industry-leading warranty coverage. That's sure to delight its fan base, who tend to be first-time new-car buyers and folks who simply want everything they need in a car and nothing they don't need. In fact, U.S. News & World Report named last year's version 2019's Best New Car for Teens in the under $20,000 category.


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Hyundai's Intelligent Smartstream Powertrain


The Smartstream powertrain's Accent debut is the big news, and it brings with it some worthwhile improvement in fuel economy. The 120 hp dual-port injection four-cylinder engine features several advancements in cooling and fuel injection management that raise its efficiency and lower emissions. Instead of a conventional thermostat, it has a thermal management module, which combines with a narrow water jacket core to achieve better cooling efficiency at all stages of fuel combustion. Other improvements, namely to the valve timing and high-energy ignition coil, work along with an external exhaust gas recovery system to maximize combustion stability and further enhance fuel economy.


The Smartstream engine pairs with either a manual shifter or CVT (add $1,100) on the base model, with the CVT the sole choice on the two higher trims. Hyundai calls this CVT the Smartstream IVT - Intelligent Variable Transmission - and it earns its name. It represents the compact-car segment's first use of a chain belt rather than a traditional push belt, to squeeze out a little more fuel economy. This eco-friendly duo gets the 2020 Accent 5 more mpg around town, 3 more on the highway, and 4 more combined.


Standard Features


The base SE presents a nice mix of modern (keyless ignition, Bluetooth phone capability, a USB port, and a touchscreen entertainment/communication system) and retro (the stickshift - if you forgo the CVT - and a CD player). It also gets a driver's seat that can be adjusted for height, nicer-than-average cloth seating surfaces, a rear-vision camera with dynamic guidelines, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. The SEL upgrades the infotainment system with a larger screen, two more speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a voice recognition feature for the Bluetooth system. This trim also gets a storage armrest (with sliding feature for the driver's comfort) with two USB ports, fog lights, heated side mirrors, outside temperature display, and automatic headlights. The loaded trim, the Limited, receives Proximity Key, push-button ignition, heated front seats, auto climate control, forward collision avoidance assist, a power sunroof, and LED headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights.


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