The 2020 Hyundai Accent is the latest model to adopt the brand's continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) along with a new engine that promises significantly improved fuel economy.

Hyundai follows Kia's lead with the Accent's CVT (which the company calls IVT for intelligent variable transmission); Kia started using the IVT last year in its Rio and Forte small car lines. However, Hyundai is first in line for a new four-cylinder engine. It's part of the Smartstream family that will also power the forthcoming 2020 Sonata family car.

The Accent's Smartstream will displace the same 1.6L as the outgoing Gamma motor. Its power output of 120 hp and 113 lb-ft of torque is down from the Gamma's 130 hp/119 lb-ft but Hyundai says the Smartstream motor promises a combined (city/highway) fuel consumption rating of about 6.5 L/100 km. That's down from a 7.3 L/100 km combined estimate for the 2019 Accent with its six-speed automatic transmission. Note that Hyundai Canada has not yet published its official estimates with Natural Resources Canada, so the numbers we're presenting here are converted from the US EPA's MPG figures.

Hyundai says the Accent's Smartstream motor achieves its thriftier performance through a variety of technical tricks. Instead of using a traditional thermostat to control the flow of coolant, it places individual temperature controls at the radiator, heater core, and automatic transmission fluid cooler to improve thermal efficiency.

The Smartstream motor also moves away from the previous Accent's direct fuel injection system to older-style port injection, but with two injectors per cylinder for better control of fuel delivery based on driving conditions. Hyundai says changes to its continuously variable valve timing system reduce pumping losses – the work the engine must do to pump exhaust gases out of the combustion chamber.

Hyundai's chain-driven IVT does its part by offering a wider range of gear ratios than competing continuously variable transmissions. The company claims this allows better performance at lower speeds and contributes to the Accent's improved fuel economy in highway driving.

Hyundai Canada says the 2020 Accent sedan and hatchback models should arrive in Canadian showrooms in September. Details about pricing, standard features, and fuel consumption will be announced closer to that time.