New & Used Hyundai Accent: In Depth
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The Hyundai Accent continues to wear the lowest price tag in the brand's lineup, but is no longer a stripper. It's now one of the bigger cars in its class. The Accent is a subcompact car available as a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback and comes very well-equipped, as Hyundai has added more features to the base model over the years.
The Accent, while less than exciting to drive, is very comfortable for a car its size—and still a great value. The Hyundai Accent is a rival for vehicles such as the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio, and Chevrolet Sonic. Hyundai brought mild updates to the Accent for 2015.
MORE: Read our 2015 Hyundai Accent review
Originally available in GL, GLS, 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. This generation was powered by a lone powertrain: a 1.6-liter four-cylinder good for 110 horsepower. The car offered good interior space and storage capacity, as well as standard air conditioning and a 60/40-split rear seat for cargo flexibility. It didn't fare too well in safety tests; U.S. versions got some extra reinforcements but still did not excel in side-impact collision testing.
The new Hyundai Accent
The latest Accent arrived for 2012, offered in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles. It's larger than its predecessor, nearly a compact in size, and offers a more sophisticated experience to go along with improved efficiency. An updated 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine makes 138 horsepower and is available with the choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
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 compensated 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. Owners were asked to register with Hyundai to receive reimbursement for the gas consumed above and beyond expected levels at a website, HyundaiMPGInfo.com.
The current Accent fares better than its predecessor in safety testing, although it is not a pack leader. The NHTSA gives it four stars out of five overall, but notes some excessive intrusion in the side-impact test. The IIHS gives it a poor score in the new small front overlap test and an acceptable in side impact, with good scores in the rest of the testing.
In the second model year of this new body style, Hyundai gave the 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. The Accent was mostly unchanged for 2014.
The 2015 model year brings a light freshening. There's a new grille design up front, while GL and GLS models also get revised headlights, and the GLS gets its own sportier taillamp look. Some feature content has been moved around and repackaged, and SE models have been renamed as Sport to more clearly express their elevated dynamic intentions.