2019 Hyundai Accent Limited vs. 2019 Kia Rio5 EX: So you've blown your budget on the turkey or plan to blow it on presents — maybe cut corners on the car?

This week: Hyundai Accent.

Price: The Limited starts at $18,995, and a base with manual transmission starts at $14,995.

Marketer's pitch: "Huge on tech, safety, and style."

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver liked the "sprightly power train, consistency between controls, decent looks, value," but not that there was "lots of hard plastic inside, elbows are treated unkindly."

Reality: Not so bad for the admission fee, but a hatchback would be a good thing.

What's new: The baby Hyundai received a redesign for the 2018 model year (which I tested), but the redesign team has a subtle touch. It appears to be a lot like the last generation.

One aspect not carried through from the last generation, though, is a hatchback. The Accent is now a four-door sedan only, a horrible idea in my estimation. Econocar shoppers looking for a Korean hatchback will have to visit Kia (which, as luck would have it, we'll visit next week).

The Hyundai Accent interior is bare bones and rather unpleasant, although controls are easy and long trips not spine-tingling.
Hyundai
The Hyundai Accent interior is bare bones and rather unpleasant, although controls are easy and long trips not spine-tingling.

Driver's Seat: As in most small cars, the cloth seat is on the small side and not too comfortable. Occupants ride in an upright position. I found my foot awkwardly aimed at the gas pedal from up here.

But driving 100 miles in one day didn't leave Mr. Driver's Seat's spine any worse for the wear, so that's a good thing.

Both front seats come heated for the Limited entry fee.

The view: The dashboard looks like a giant black box protruding from under the windshield.

The functionality: Here in the cheap seats, the controls are not often so well thought out. But the gauges in the Accent are pretty clear and easy to read, and the switches for things like drive mode and other functions all seemed easy to find.

Up to speed: Its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine claims to be all-new, and it creates 130 horsepower. The car reaches 60 mph in 9.3 seconds, according to Motor Trend, which is not terrible for such a little guy.

Shifty: Hyundai puts automatics in the press fleet at its own risk. At least a six-speed manual would have given Mr. Driver's Seat more to focus on.

It also would have moved a little faster than this dog. (Note also that Car and Driver had much more fun and recorded a 7.5-second 0-60 time in the stick.) Shifting one's own gears is possible with the automatic, and it does help, provided one remembers to downshift for passing, or little highway hills, or over pebbles, potholes, road seams …

The overdrive fifth and sixth gears also require two pushes on the lever. You'd think a guy whining for a clutch would be happy for the extra motion, but not so.

The stick comes only on the bare-bones model, so a lot of compromises would have to have been made to have the ability to shift.

On the road: Hyundai is not known for its sporty vehicles. Although it's been getting a little better in this regard, the Accent is not the place to discover any newfound sportiness. Handling is extremely meh, and no one will come away breathing heavily after a ride in the Accent.

Friends and stuff: The rear seat offers decent accommodations for the size. Leg positioning becomes a bit awkward even though legroom is enhanced by the height of the vehicle. There's just not enough fore and aft movement to keep one's feet from feeling trapped under the front seat. Center seat passengers should be compensated for their trouble.

Cargo space is 13.7 cubic feet in the trunk. The old hatchback was cute and roomy compared to this. Sadface.

Play some tunes: The test vehicle featured the larger seven-inch touchscreen for its audio system. The stereo looks like one featured in the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat's Kia Soul, but the sound was far inferior. Granted, the Accent's accent is on road noise, so the stereo has much to compete with, but the sound quality was poor at low volume and slightly better cranked up. Bring your earbuds.

On the bright side, though, functionality is extremely simple, and Hyundai and Kia both offer Sirius with the ability to record, capturing the songs on all your favorite channels from the moment your trip begins. This gives a whole lot of music options on long rides.

Night shift: LED headlamps come standard on the Limited, and they illuminated the road nicely. Interior lights are pretty bright and don't allow for great views of the roadway ahead.

Fuel economy: It all would have been better had I seen stronger numbers here, but 32.5 in a few hundred mostly highway miles seemed a dismal result.

Where it's built: Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

How it's built: Consumer Reports predicts a 3 out of 5 for reliability. But it last was tested in 2016, when it garnered a 5.

Next week: 2019 Kia Rio5.