New & Used Hyundai Accent: In Depth
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The Hyundai Accent is offered as either a subcompact four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback that’s slightly larger than other competitors in its class. The low price tag on the Accent makes it a great buy for those who have a tight budget but also require enough cargo space. The Accent also sports a long list of optional extras. Due to its surprising functionality and great dynamics, the Accent is a legitimate contender against the Kia Rio, Honda Fit, and the Chevy Sonic.
See our 2014 Hyundai Accent review for pricing with options, gas mileage ratings, and specifications
Redesigned in the 2012 model year, the latest Accent has made huge strides in styling, performance, quality and fit and finish, though it's had to retract some of its early fuel-economy claims. It's also grown more expensive quickly, with the base model in the 2012 model year deleted in favor of a more highly contented version for the 2013 model year.That first 2001 Hyundai Accent was a new nameplate that won little praise in the automotive press, while the Hyundai brand was working hard to escape its value-priced image. Over the past decade, Hyundai has emerged to become a formidable competitor, with products that go head-to-head with the best Asian and U.S. products in most segments. While its price remains competitive, the Accent now offers quality and value to buyers seeking fuel-efficient transportation that's solid but low on frills. It offers features that include an available automatic transmission, air conditioning, and in newer models, advanced audio packages and sporty appearance upgrades.
Originally available in GL, GSL and GT trims, with a choice of 1.5-liter and 1.6-liter engines, the Hyundai Accent has seen some simplification over the years. The first-generation car was a low-priced, often low-quality mode of basic transportation. The second-generation Accent was offered from 2005, and trim choices eventually were reduced to a trio: the GLS model, with a choice of continuously variable (CVT) or manual transmissions, was offered in the sedan body style, while the hatchback was offered in GS and SE trims, with the SE replacing the previous GT trim as the sportier take on the Accent.
A single 110-horsepower, 1.6-liter engine powered the second-generation Accent. Generally well-received, the car offered ample interior space and storage, standard air conditioning and a 60/40 split rear seat for extra cargo space. However, its safety scores were never a strong point. The U.S. versions fared better in federal testing but still rated only average, particularly in side-impact tests.
Then in 2012, a brand-new Accent lineup was introduced. With five-door hatchback and four-door sedan body styles, the new Accent has grown to near-compact-class size, and has been developed with a far higher level of sophistication and fuel-saving technology. Hyundai extracts 138 horsepower from a new 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, and teams it with a choice of six-speed automatic or manual transmissions. In the second model year of this new body style, the Hyundai gave the 2013 Accent more standard features in base GLS sedan form--things like air conditioning, cruise control, and power windows--but raised the base price by $2,000 accordingly.
It's a better performer, and it's very well executed, with adult-sized room in front or in back, with a smooth powertrain that accelerates at or above the usual econocar pace--and does it all with a level of fit and finish that's actually a notch above the new Fiesta and many other subcompacts. Not only that, it's better equipped, with available Bluetooth, power features, and standard curtain airbags and stability control.
The Accent's fuel economy, however, is not as good as was initially marketed. In November 2012, the 2012-2013 Hyundai was found to have misstated gas mileage figures for the Accent and several other models due to what it termed "testing errors," for which it will compensate owners of the affected models. While the 2012 Accent was initially rated and promoted at 30 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, the EPA deemed its actual fuel efficiency to be 28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway.
That keeps the Accent as Hyundai's least expensive but most fuel efficient non-hybrid vehicle, but it no longer reaches the magic 40-mpg highway rating. Whether this will hurt its sales long term remains to be seen, though most industry observers suggest that consumers will have short memories for the flap. Owners can register with Hyundai to receive reimbursement for the gas consumed above and beyond expected levels; more details are found at HyundaiMPGInfo.com.