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Affordability is the name of the game when it comes to the 2021 Hyundai Accent. Most new car buyers want something with affordable monthly payments but do not want to invest in a vehicle that will just conk out on them in a few years or have a vastly underwhelming driving performance.
Hyundai understands that and has built their brand around mixing affordability with performance and comfort. The new Accent might be unchanged for the model year, but it still has a lot of good things going for it. The Accent offers a remarkably quiet cabin and a cozy ride quality. The interior is crafted with quality design in mind so that you will not hear any rattling noises. The interior is spacious, something that you do not always find from cabins in this segment. The warranty coverage is going to be one of the biggest selling points though with the top-notch fuel economy.
The 2021 Hyundai Accent has some noteworthy downsides though. There is no option for built-in navigation, so drivers will simply have to rely on their smartphones' navigation apps. Also, the standard cloth upholstery sucks in and holds heat, making it unpleasant on hot summer days. The fabric is not even that comfortable on its own anyway. Other issues include the USB port having trouble charging a phone and the advanced driver aids being allocated solely for the line-topping trim level.
So, is the 2021 Hyundai Accent worth the cost? Should you look at something else? You might want to learn more about the different trim levels before making any final decisions. This trim level comparison review will go over the Accent's trim levels and what each one of them has to offer. Be sure to read through to the end of this review to get our final verdict on the Accent and which trim level we think will appeal to the average buyer in this segment.
Compare the 2021 Hyundai Accent SE vs SEL - What is the Difference?
Let us kick this trim level comparison review off by discussion the base trim (known as the SE) and the mid-tier trim level, the SEL. Like the two trim levels above it, the base SE is powered by a 1.5-L inline-4 cylinder engine that produces a power output of 120 hp and 113 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the other trim levels, though, the SE comes paired up with a 6-speed manual transmission. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT for short) can be optionally swapped in, and it does come standard on the SEL and Limited trim levels. The manual transmission with the base engine nabs you a solid 33 mpg combined (with 29 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway). Expect to get about 36 mpg combined on the CVT models (with 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway).
Other than that, mechanically, expect these trim levels to all be pretty similar. This is a 4-door vehicle with a unibody construction that has a MacPherson strut front suspension with gas shock absorbers and coil springs and a torsion axle rear suspension with monotube shock absorbers and coil springs. There is motor-driven power steering and, on the SEL, rear disc brakes. The SE rides atop 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers while the SEL gets upgraded to 15-inch alloy wheels.
Safety features do vary a bit between these two trim levels. As it is the base trim, the SE comes with a fairly minimal array of safety features. It has a vehicle stability management system, electronic stability control, traction control, and hill start assist (which only comes with the CVT models). An occupant classification system gets added in as well, as do other features like an advanced air bag system for the driver and front passenger, a tire pressure monitoring system, pretensioners for the front two seat belts, the LATCH system for child car safety seats, rear child safety locks, and an alarm that comes with the remote keyless entry system. The SEL sees the addition of a blind spot mirror for the driver, but that is the only difference between it and the SE in terms of safety features and driver aids.
The exteriors of the SE and SEL are actually rather different if you pay close enough attention. The base SE trim level comes with a one-touch triple turn signal as well as two power-adjustable side mirrors done in the body color and a chrome grille up front. The SEL, of course, equips a few more defining features, which include chrome window belt molding, heating for the side mirrors, automatic control of the headlights, and fog lights.
Inside, you will find a decent enough array of standard features for the price. With the base SE trim level, you get cloth upholstery on all of the seats, and the driver's seat is manually adjustable 6 different ways. It is height-adjustable 2 ways with sliding and reclining adjustments as well. There is a 60/40-split folding rear back seat, and the door inserts are done in cloth trim. Air conditioning comes standard, as does an outside temperature display, a rear window defroster with a built-in timer, cruise control, audio controls that are mounted on top of the steering wheel, and a hands-free phone calling system through Bluetooth.
Other standard interior features on the SE include front and rear power windows, a panic alert function that accompanies the remote keyless entry system, a 4-speaker sound system, AM/FM/CD/MP3 play-ability, a 5-inch color touchscreen display for the infotainment system, dynamic guidelines on the rear-view camera, and input jacks for smartphones/USB and MP3 auxiliary.
Naturally, you get quite a few more standard features inside of the mid-tier SEL trim level. So, just what upgrades get made? For starters, the SEL comes with a storage bin underneath a sliding arm rest in between the two front seats. To add on to that, the SEL gains a passenger-side seat-back pocket, voice recognition for the Bluetooth hands-free calling system, and auto up/down on the driver's window. Additionally, there is a steering wheel wrapped in leather that is both tilting and telescoping.
The really big addition, though, is the 7-inch touchscreen display with the upgraded infotainment system. This system has AM/FM and SiriusXM Satellite Radio, standard smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a 6-speaker sound system. You also get the additional benefit of having two USB charging ports. However, they struggle to charge a lot of newer smartphones, so there is a drawback there.
Compare the 2021 Hyundai Accent SEL vs Limited - What is the Difference?
Now that we have analyzed the differences between the base SE and mid-tier SEL trim levels, we have to take a close look at the line-topping Limited trim level. As you might reasonably expect, it boasts a few major upgrades and additions over the SEL. But just what are those changes? And do they make the Limited the trim level to buy on the 2021 Hyundai Accent?
The Limited has the same powertrain offered on the SEL, which means there are no significant mechanical changes. The only obvious alteration is the switch to 17-inch alloy wheels. EPA estimates are the same, the brakes carry over, and the suspension systems still come equipped too.
Where you will start to find the real changes are with the list of standard safety, infotainment, and convenience features - in other words, inside of the cabin. But the exterior does get a few nifty upgrades to help set it apart: a hands-free trunk release, LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, turn signals that are integrated into the side mirrors, and a power tilting and sliding sunroof.
Inside of the cabin, you will notice the upgrades after looking around and tinkering with some of the tech. The front seats? Those get a standard heating function that will warm your back and bottom on cooler days. The Limited trim level also receives an automatic climate control system that comes with an automatic defogging system to help clear your windows and windshield. Along with the proximity key, there is a push button start feature for easier entry and start-up of the vehicle. Another bonus? The steering wheel comes wrapped in leather and also sports a standard heating function, warming your hands when the wheel is cold to the touch on a chilly winter morning.
It should be noted right here that Hyundai offers a highly generous, industry-leading array of warranty coverages on every single trim level in the 2021 Hyundai Accent line-up. Every vehicle is given a 5-year/60,000-mile New Vehicle Limited warranty, a 10-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited warranty, a 7-year/unlimited-mile Anti-perforation warranty, and 5 years or unlimited miles of 24/7 roadside assistance. Buyers will be hard-pressed to find warranty coverage like this, which, along with the price tag, will make the 2021 Hyundai Accent an attractive option for those wanting a new vehicle in a smaller segment.
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Which Trim to Choose?
There is no point in denying the attractive price tag and warranty coverage offered on the 2021 Hyundai Accent and its three trim levels. The base SE, mid-tier SEL, and line-topping Limited trim levels all boast a decent array of standard features, but there is definitely one that sets itself apart from the rest.
That trim level is the SEL. Why are we picking the mid-tier trim level over the less expensive SE? Simple: features, features, features. The SE and SEL have the same power output, but the SE clearly lacks a lot of standard features. Other rivals in this segment do offer some of the SEL's features as standard on their base trims, and it is becoming more common to see things like smartphone app integration coming standard on economy vehicles. But Hyundai has elected to keep features such as this for the mid-tier trim level.
The SEL gives you all of the essentials plus some of the nicer convenience features. We really like the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system better than the tiny set-up that you get on the SE trim. The inclusion of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone app integration is clearly something that most drivers are going to want, and the 15-inch alloy wheels are a little bit nicer to look at than the steel ones on the SE.
So, why not the line-topping Limited trim level? We don't think that most buyers will want to spend the money on just a few extra features. The Limited's upgrades are few and far between and are basically only there to 'up' the price tag. They might seem kind of cool, but just a couple of them might justify the price a bit more. Most drivers will be happy with what the SEL has to offer.
• Compare the 2020 Hyundai Accent Trim Levels