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The Hyundai Accent is a solid choice in the subcompact class--which makes it much improved over past generations of the Korean automaker's smallest cars. It's a more traditional effort than some of the hatchbacks and sedans in the segment, with its big interior space a strong value, and predictable performance. But it's also endowed with a more elegant look and a higher-grade interior, like most of the competition.The Accent really made its ascent out of the small-car doldrums for 2012, when it was completely redesigned with some of the same 'Fluidic Sculpture' influences as other modern Hyundai models. Additionally, it was equipped better than ever, and given a heft helping of maturity that some models like the Fiat 500 and Ford Fiesta are arguably lacking. The Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, and Chevrolet Sonic are definite mainstream rivals, as is the nearly mechanically identical Kia Rio.
Versus all those models that reach for the middle of the market, and practical concerns, the Accent has a styling advantage--provided we're talking about the five-door hatchback. While the four-door sedan is fine--perhaps a little homely--the five-door nails it, mixing the usual hatchback profile with the cues and details that have become Hyundai's first real design statement. Inside, the design is simple, even elegant, and the combination of streamlined controls and nice low-gloss plastics gives it a lot of presence for the price.
The Accent accelerates, steers, and handles in an adequate, predictable way, although its performance is no standout. That said, its direct-injection 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is quite fuel-stingy, and it mates well with either the manual gearbox, which has a light clutch, or the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic that includes a Sport mode and manual control.
While the Honda Fit might have the Accent beat by the numbers, the Hyundai Accent has a very comfortable, spacious interior for passengers--one of the best in its class, really. Even tall passengers will be able to get in and out easily and have enough headroom and legroom in the front seats. Back-seat space is also respectable for a car this size, and there's plenty of space for smaller items, with bins and trays for smartphones, energy drinks, and toll change. You get a little more cargo space in sedans, with the seatbacks up, although you lose some of the hatch's versatility.
The Accent is well-equipped, but not luxurious. Unlike some subcompact models in this class, you won't find leather upholstery, a navigation system, or a sunroof on the options list--the consequence of a very simplified set of build combinations. For 2013, Hyundai added a bunch of additional standard features (including air conditioning and power accessories), while raising the base price about $2,000. This year the changes are relatively minimal, with an updated-and-improved base audio system, a new one-touch turn signal, sliding sun visors, and a driver's blind-spot mirror.For 2014, the SE gets a new B&M racing sport shifter, while five-door SE and four-door Premium models get new projector headlamps with LED accents, a driver's side auto-up window, and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel.
- Exterior styling
- Cabin fit and finish
- Real room for four
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- Not as perky as it looks
- Headroom tighter in the sedan
- No navigation option