Compact cars seem to be a dying breed, but Nissan and Hyundai are a pair of brands still willing to offer buyers fuel-efficient sedans. Comparing the 2021 Nissan Versa vs 2021 Hyundai Accent, each of the small sedans is priced affordably while still managing to bring plenty of modern features to the table. Standard convenience features, technology, and driver-assisted safety are often on the minds of those searching for new vehicles, so that is where this comparison will focus between the two compact sedans.
Shared features for both cars include unimpressive standard 15-inch steel wheels and a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. Despite sharing engine size, the Nissan puts out a slight edge at 122 horsepower to the 120 horsepower of the Hyundai. Both vehicles also come standard with manual transmissions, which is a rarity these days, and then upgrade to a continuously variable transmission for upper trims. Front-wheel drive is the only choice for the drivetrain, though this is expected for an affordable compact car. In today’s market, technology is king; Nissan sets its sights squarely on bringing a wide array of tech right out of the gate. Can Hyundai compare? Let’s take a look.
Pricing and Standard Features
When it comes to pricing, both Nissan and Hyundai start in the mid-teens, with the 2021 Versa beginning at $14,980 and the 2021 Accent coming in just above that at $15,395. Already the Versa has the edge of a lower price, and it has a few other attributes to squeeze in above its rival, too. Both compact cars have remote door locks, which is an expectation for any vehicle these days. But Nissan nudges out Hyundai with the addition of standard push-button start so that you don’t have to fish your keys out of your pocket to get on the road, a feature Hyundai reserves for its uppermost trim. With 14.7 cubic feet of trunk space, the Versa has an extra full cubic foot of cargo space, too.
If you happen to have kids in the back seat, a tech-oriented feature Nissan includes as standard is the powered door lock with a speed-sensing auto-lock. This lock will engage automatically when the vehicle reaches a certain speed, which keeps anyone from accidentally opening a door while the car is in motion. In most other ways, the 2021 Versa and 2021 Accent are about equal for standard equipment. On the outside, both compacts have powered side mirrors and a chrome grille for the entry-level trim. Inside, each compact has cloth seats in a dark color, a rearview camera, and a six-way adjustable driver’s seat.
Upper trims gain the option of heated seats, heated side mirrors, and LED headlights in both the Versa and Accent, though a few notable features differ between the two. In the Nissan, you gain a nifty feature called “Follow Me Home Headlights,” which allows you to click the turn signal wand before you exit the vehicle, and then the headlights will stay on for 30 seconds with each click so you can see where you’re going at night. Nissan also gives the top trim remote starting, with the option to link this feature with automatic climate control. The Accent offers the option of a powered sunroof as bait to purchase the uppermost trim.
Technology Is Life
Nissan has been diligently promoting its “Intelligent Mobility” platform as a key feature of its brand, and with good reason. Even with this rock-bottom pricing for a compact car, Nissan delivers a decent tech package for the Versa’s entry-level trim and adds some surprisingly high-end features to upper trims. The Versa’s standard 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system is also easier to manage than the standard five-inch screen in the Hyundai Accent.
Nissan adds Siri Eyes-free for those with Apple smartphones and Bluetooth pairing for audio streaming, hands-free messaging, and voice recognition. Hyundai includes Bluetooth in the Accent, but no streaming or voice-recognition service until the mid-level trim. The remaining standard equipment both vehicles share is a four-speaker audio system, steering wheel-mounted controls, and USB charging ports with an auxiliary jack for smartphone input.
When you range into the mid-level trim, Nissan rewards buyers with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Google Assistant, SiriusXM satellite radio, and its own NissanConnect service. The last feature allows users to remotely access certain features like locking or starting your Versa through your smartphone. The mid-trim Accent catches up to the Versa with a larger seven-inch screen, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone pairing with the infotainment. You’ll also get SiriusXM, voice recognition, and two more speakers at this level with the Hyundai, but you never gain the remote access of the Nissan.
Quite a few of the features between the two compact sedans have been similar or equal thus far, but the Nissan handily takes the win when it comes to safety. Even if you compare the most expensive trim of the 2021 Accent to the entry-level 2021 Versa, the Versa will still come out on top with the most driver-assist safety features. If this matters to you as a driver (and it should when you drive a compact car in a world of SUVs), you should carefully consider purchasing the Versa over the Accent.
The Accent only comes standard with a few basic safety features: vehicle stability management, electronic stability control, a traction control system, and electronic brake force distribution with brake assist. That’s the whole shebang. In contrast, the 2021 Versa is a champion of safety with a string of driver-assist features. All the features of the Accent have similar equivalents in the Versa, plus you gain automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, high beam assist, hill start assist, and Nissan’s Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, which is a system to prevent frontal impacts.
Already the compact Versa matches or outshines much more expensive vehicles in terms of safety with this list of impressive features, but then it adds a little twist. A rearview monitor in combination with rear automatic braking will take this little compact car into luxury vehicle territory for smart safety features. Imagine how much safer backing out of the driveway becomes when your car can automatically stop for obstacles – and you get this for a starting price of less than $15,000.
It almost seems silly to bother looking at upper trims, but the Hyundai deserves to show off its two driver-assisted features, one of which is only a blind-spot mirror. The only true driver-assist feature for the Accent is forward collision avoidance. It’s better than nothing, but it really can’t hold a candle to the Versa, especially when you consider it is only offered on the Hyundai’s top trim when Nissan includes it standard.
Looking at the higher trims of the Versa, Nissan once again delivers features most brands only offer on much pricier vehicles. The additions include rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, and Intelligent Driver Alertness, a feature that ensures the driver is attentive enough to drive safely. The option to add Intelligent Cruise Control can be tacked onto the uppermost trim to round out the features that will keep your small car safer in traffic, which is always a win.
The Final Verdict
To recap, in every category, the 2021 Nissan Versa either beats or matches the more expensive 2021 Hyundai Accent. From trunk space to remote vehicle access, the conveniences in the Versa outshine the Accent; however, when you take even a glance at the safety features, there is no comparison. If you value your investment in a vehicle, driver-assist technology will help you protect it and the lives of your passengers. Overall, you deserve to enjoy the convenience and safety offered in the Nissan Versa, and you deserve to keep the extra cash in your wallet.