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The 2011 Hyundai Accent costs many thousands less than a typical late-model used car, and that's a significant part of its appeal. With a base price of $9,985, not including destination, the Accent is again the lowest-priced car in the U.S. market, and comes in three-door hatchback or four-door sedan models.
Visually, the Accent isn't very remarkable in either form, though. And next to some of the newest, hippest subcompacts like the Ford Fiesta or Mazda2, it's downright homely. The Accent sedan model is quite short and stubby from the outside, though the three-door looks a bit more stylish and sophisticated—especially for those who like the Euro-hatch look. Both models are inoffensively styled on the inside, but now looking very dated. Hyundai expected oval themes inside still hit the mark, but they look (and are) five years or more behind the new look of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and Elantra.
All 2011 Hyundai Accent models remain powered by a 110-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, driving the front wheels. The Accent does just fine in city driving with either the five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, but in either case, at highway speeds, passing involves some careful calculation. However running costs are low, and the Accent has enough power for most commuting needs.
For the most part, the Accent's interior feels cheap and cheerful in a most positive sense. Its packaging still holds up very well; compared to most other vehicles in its class, there's great passenger and cargo space. The 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. Trim fit and attention to detail aren't up to the standards of Hyundai's latest industry-leading designs either, and seats are skimpy, but the controls and displays are simple and straightforward.
Safety is especially critical in a lightweight small car, and here the news isn't particularly good; it's fair to say the Accent is near the bottom of its class. All Accents come standard with front, side, and curtain airbags, but Hyundai still skimps on anti-lock brakes; they're not even offered on the base GL model. Electronic stability control isn't available at all.
The 2011 Accent comes with quite a range of equipment; the three-door hatchback is offered in base GL, GS, and SE trims, while the sedan is available only in upscale GLS trim.
The base starts at less than $10,000 but includes a very slim set of features—there's no standard 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 SE also includes cruise control, but for 2011 Hyundai has deleted the formerly standard sunroof to keep the price down. Also discontinued, for those who might have been looking for the highest mileage possible, is last year's Accent Blue, which brought a host of improvements, like taller gear ratios, to achieve 37 mpg highway.
A Bluetooth hands-free interface is also sorely lacking from the 2011 Accent.
- Straightforward, durable interior
- Good fuel economy
- Roomy backseat (sedan)
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- Sluggish on the highway
- Engine noise
- No Bluetooth connectivity
- Steering wheel doesn't telescope