The 2018 Hyundai Accent debuted at the Orange County Auto Show and brings the Accent into the same styling fold as the rest of Hyundai's sedan lineup. While it loses the hatchback version due to poor sales, the new Accent gets more fuel efficient engines, more interior space, more high-tech safety equipment, and Hyundai promises a more refined driving experience.

We think the new styling makes the new Accent look like a shrunken version of the Hyundai Elantra. This is a good thing, as that model’s sense of style was one of the most consistent points of praise during our long-term Elantra's time with us. The new Accent continues this, with similarly styled grille, headlights, and even taillights with a similar 3-element motif. It all looks great and instantly makes the new Accent one of the better looking cars in its segment.

Also: Get your first look at the new and redesigned cars of 2018

Upscale cabin

The upscale treatment continues inside, with a design that closely resembles the Elantra and even the larger Sonata, although there's a LOT more hard plastic in the Accent, which isn't surprising considering it's a price leader. Base SE models get Bluetooth phone sync and a rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines on the 5-inch touchscreen; the higher-end SEL and Limited models get a 7-inch touchscreen that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth with voice recognition, dual USB charging ports instead of the SE's single port, and other niceties like a tilt and telescope steering wheel, exterior temperature display, and more. Limited models also get a free 3-year Blue Link subscription, pushbutton start, heated front seats, a sunroof, hands-free trunk release. and automatic emergency braking.

Under the hood is a revised version of the previous car's 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. With 130 horsepower and 119 lb-ft of torque it's actually down on power compared to its predecessor. However, Hyundai says the new engine delivers more torque at lower revs, and that fuel economy should improve. Standard on all models is a 6-speed manual transmission, with a 6-speed automatic available. Still, considering that the new car weighs about 100 pounds more than its predecessor and offers less power, we're not exactly expecting a sporty driving experience from the new Accent.

But that's OK. The 2018 Hyundai Accent looks like it has the chops to be a solid contender in the subcompact segment. While we're a little saddened to see the hatchback disappear (who doesn't like a good hatch), the rear seatbacks on the sedan fold to expand the 13.7 cu. ft. trunk if you really need to. We'll know more about how much the power deficit affects performance, about that promised refined driving experience, and how much it'll all cost, closer to when the Accent goes on sale later this fall.

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