Auto Review: Frugality with an ‘Accent’
By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Thu., Dec. 1, 2011
Now with “Black” Friday, “Cyber” Monday and “Oh, I have to pay for shipping again?” Tuesday behind us, you might be wondering where to find the latest bargain. I’m here to help, for lo and behold, this week’s auto review features a real corker in the high-value, low-cost department.
We all know Hyundai has been hard at work building cars that feature the latest in technology and creature comforts, and doing it with style while keeping prices surprisingly affordable. These days, they’ve also been focusing on something we can all appreciate: fuel economy. For 2012, Hyundai’s sub-compact Accent is all-new, coming in both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback versions, and the company claims these new arrivals have the interior room of larger compact cars (with the five-door boasting class-leading cargo volume). When you combine these and other attributes with the bottom line price, you’re looking at a great deal indeed.
We tested the five-door SE, and regardless of which body style you choose, this front-drive machine comes with an all-new “Gamma” 1.6-liter Inline Four with 138 horsepower. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, and we sampled the manual that is as smooth and easy to live with as it is efficient. This may be an inexpensive car, but the drivetrain shows admirable refinement, and while this engine is skewed towards low fuel consumption, variable valve timing and Direct Injection technology insure crisp response and acceptable acceleration.
The polish continues with a suspension that delivers a comfortable ride and good control, and the standard ABS brakes include Electronic Brake Force Distribution for short, steady stops, regardless of the load. Hyundai rounds out the safety résumé with Vehicle Stability Management, Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control, all standard. The only driving quibble is a small one, as some road noise does creep in and makes itself known.
Exterior styling reflects Hyundai’s “Fluidic Sculpture” design philosophy that has produced so many attractive new vehicles (made all the more striking with our tester’s “electrolyte green” paint scheme), and the interior is likewise sharp in execution. Inside, the pilot’s perch is roomy, but could use more lateral support, but on the plus side, the control layout is very intuitive and comfortable to use straight away. There’s a feeling of quality throughout the cabin, and rear seat room is acceptable for two adults. The cargo area behind the rear seats is modest, but folding the seatbacks expands cargo volume to 47.5 cubic feet.
With the extensive list of standard equipment (such as cruise control, bluetooth hands-free phone technology and much, much more), plus the enjoyable driving dynamics and overall build quality, you might already be impressed with the new Accent. I’ve saved the best for last: the SE is EPA-rated 30 MPG city/40 highway and we saw 37 MPG in our week of mixed driving. The 2012 Hyundai Accent five-door SE has a base price of $15,795 and with options our sticker came to $15,925.