The new Gamma engine in the Accent has, in addition to direct-injection, continuously variable intake and exhaust valve timing, an Alternator Management System, variable induction, and an electronic throttle—plus a roller timing chain for reduced maintenance. An ActiveEco function further helps improve fuel economy by smoothing out throttle response and power delivery.
Handling should be a bit better than the former version, thanks to a more rigid structure along with twin-tube shocks and a front stabilizer bar for the front strut, rear torsion-axle setup.
Unlike most vehicles in this class, which have had to take on some additional safety equipment in recent years, the Accent tips the scales at around the same weight as its predecessor—around 2,400 pounds.
Safety no longer a sore point
Safety had been a weak point for the outgoing model, but in the 2012 Accent Hyundai is including six airbags in all, including side and side-curtain bags, plus active head restraints—which, the automaker points out, aren't even available in Fiesta, Yaris, Aveo, or Mazda2. Anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist are included; electronic stability control is also standard, and it works together with the electric power-steering system to help maintain control. SE models get their own steering calibration for a sportier feel.
Three trims of the new Accent will be offered: GLS, GS, and SE. GLS models come with all the safety equipment but still appear to be quite sparsely appointed, though air conditioning, a sound system with iPod and USB connectivity, and power windows and locks are all on offer. The GS adds A/C, the full sound system, power accessories, a rear defroster, and additional lights and hood insulation, and cruise control is optional. At the top of the line is the SE, which gets cruise standard, Bluetooth hands-free, steering-wheel audio controls, 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, a rear spoiler, the sliding armrest and storage bin, and upgraded trims.
Technically 'holding the line on pricing,' but going upmarket, too
Hyundai hasn't yet released firm pricing for the 2012 model, but it has said that it "will hold the line on pricing from the prior generation to continue delivering unmistakable value to customers."
Hold the line on pricing it will, but there's an important point: The three-door Hyundai Accent GL, which for 2011 starts at $10,795 including destination, is no more. That less-expensive body style is being dropped altogether, and it's likely that, as with the Elantra versus Elantra Touring, Hyundai will ask more for the five-door hatch, which will only be offered in mid-level GS and sporty SE trim, not in base GLS guise.