- Stylish interior
- Good on gas
- Sedan has decent backseat room
- Engine noise
- Unpleasant transmissions
- Sluggish acceleration
- Bluetooth isn't available
- Steering wheel doesn't telescope
If frugal simplicity and penny-pinching is what you want, the 2010 Hyundai Accent has it.
The Accent remains the smallest and most affordable model in Hyundai's U.S. lineup. It's offered as either a two-door hatchback or four-door sedan. For the second consecutive year, the Accent is the cheapest passenger car in the United States, with a base price of just $9,970 not including destination.
Visually, the Accent isn't very remarkable. While the sedan model is quite short and stubby from the outside, it's better styled on the inside, with Hyundai's expected oval themes. The three-door hatchback is the clear winner from the outside, with a cohesive shape that looks more sophisticated from a distance.
On either model, there's a 110-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood, driving the front wheels. The Accent does just fine in city driving with either the manual or automatic, but at highway speeds, passing involves some careful calculation. But with fuel economy ratings as good as 27 mpg city, 36 highway (31 combined), the 2010 Hyundai Accent makes up for that lack of performance with low day-to-day running costs. Fuel economy picks up across the model line this year due to a range of improvements to the engine, a smart alternator, low-rolling-resistance tires, and aerodynamic updates; the new Accent Blue also includes taller gear ratios in a very frugal base model.
While you shouldn't expect a lot of driving fun from the 2010 Hyundai Accent, it's one of the nimbler-feeling small cars, thanks to a well-tuned suspension. SE versions seem a bit sportier overall. Brakes feel better than what you might expect for a vehicle of this price, but other tactile elements aren't quite there; the manual shift linkage is imprecise, ride quality deteriorates with a full load, and engine noise can be a problem on the highway.
Hyundai makes great use of limited space of the 2010 Accent. The Accent packs more interior room into its stubby 159.3-inch overall length than the much larger Chevrolet Cobalt or Ford Focus coupe models. There's actually enough legroom and headroom for the typical adult male in the backseat of the sedan, and getting in and out of the hatch's backseat is a little easier than in other two-doors. Front seats are a little skimpy, though, with short cushions and limited support. Beware that the steering wheel doesn't tilt on any Accent trim, and base Blue models come with a fixed steering wheel. The Hyundai Accent's interior looks good and feels durable, especially from the driver's seat, though there's evidence of cost-cutting with respect to cubbies, trim, and the cargo area. One Accent that TheCarConnection.com tested had some particularly ill-fitting trim.
Safety is especially critical in a lightweight small car, and here the news isn't particularly good—in fact, it might be fair to say the Accent is near the bottom of its class. From the IIHS, frontal crash protection is rated "acceptable," while side impact protection is deemed "poor." Federal results are also unimpressive, at three and four stars for side impact. All Accents come standard with front, side, and curtain airbags. Anti-lock brakes are now offered on all but the base Blue model, but electronic stability control isn't available.
The 2010 Accent comes with quite a range of equipment; the three-door hatchback is offered in Blue, GS, and SE trims, while the sedan is available in a single GLS model. The base Blue model, which starts at less than $10,000, can now be optioned with air conditioning. It includes taller transmission ratios for better fuel economy, to appeal to the most miserly drivers, but is not otherwise that well equipped—there's no audio system, air conditioning, or power accessories. The GS hatch gets tilt steering and air conditioning, while the top SE model is the way to go for those who want a truly well-equipped car; it includes a sunroof, sport-tuned suspension, an upgraded six-speaker sound system with iPod and USB inputs, steering-wheel audio controls, power accessories, keyless entry, 16-inch alloy wheels, and fog lamps. The GLS sedan includes many of those features.