The Hyundai Accent is an exceptional value, with a long list of standard equipment and trim. At this price, buying a new car with up-to-date safety equipment may make more sense than buying an older used car. And to eliminate worries about maintenance costs, Hyundai backs the Accent with one of the best warranties in the business.
The Accent is roomy and comfortable, and surprisingly refined for such an inexpensive car. Its twin-cam 1.6-liter engine is gutsy, and zippy performance makes these cars fun to drive. The Accent offers surprisingly sophisticated ride and handling. The GT ratchets up the latter with a sports suspension and other goodies.
Hyundai's 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection plan shields the owner against a variety of problems, while the powertrain is warranted for 100,000 miles. The plan even includes five years of roadside assistance with lockout and emergency towing service. If the car title is transferred, the powertrain is still protected for the first 50,000 miles or five years from dealer sale. That's peace of mind.
Hyundai Accent is available in three-door hatchback and four-door sedan body styles. All Accent models are powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder rated 103 horsepower.
The three-door Accent GLS ($9,999) is the entry-level model, but nevertheless comes standard with five-speed manual transmission, power steering, tachometer and digital clock, cut-pile carpeting, multi-adjustable drivers seat with fold-down arm-rest, tinted glass with sunshade band, an AM/FM/cassette stereo, center console, vanity mirror, tilt steering, intermittent wipers, a 60/40 split folding rear seat, and rear windshield wiper/washer. Safety equipment includes dual front airbags and front-seat side airbags. The GLS three-door can also be ordered with four-speed automatic transmission ($10,799)
The GLS is also available as a four-door sedan with five-speed manual transmission ($10,499) or four-speed automatic ($11,299). The sedan comes standard with all the features of the hatchback GLS, except a remote trunk release is substituted for the rear windshield washer/wiper.
The sporty three-door Accent GT hatchback ($10,599) comes with all the same features as the GLS, plus sport-tuned suspension, 14-inch alloy wheels and 185/60 HR14 tires, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, white-face gauges, body-colored rocker moldings and rear spoiler, front fog lights and sport cloth seats. The GT is also available with four-speed automatic transmission ($11,399).
All Accent models can be upgraded by adding air conditioning ($795); the Popular Equipment Package ($1,290) which includes air conditioning, six-speaker stereo CD upgrade, power windows, mirrors and door locks; and a complete accessory group ($1,695) which includes anti-lock brakes as well as the Popular Equipment Package options.
Anti-lock brakes can only be purchased with the full accessory package, and we strongly recommending getting them.
The overall form of the Hyundai Accent is a low-slung wedge topped by a steeply raked windshield and a tall wrap of window glass. There's a fast slope to the front hood and a brief back deck. The three-door model is shaped more like a sedan than a traditional hatchback. Hyundai calls it a hatchback coupe.
The Hyundai Accent is neatly styled, with the hood flowing smoothly up from the body-colored front bumper and back to the windshield. Oblong front light clusters blending back around the new fenders flank a grid-like body-color grille over a lower air inlet in the bumper. The look is at once soft, yet alert. The grille and light combination gives the Accent's face a cute, wide-eyed and cheery quality we find appealing.
Feature lines on the sides flow into the high tail lights, suggesting speed and action. At the rear, the sharply-sculpted body-colored bumper may be a trifle busy, but the overall look is appealing. The spoiler and lower bodyside molding on the GT blend nicely into the car's overall lines so they don't look like aftermarket add-ons.
Hyundai Accent was designed to maximize interior room. Its tall windows, generously sized bucket seats and multi-level console all contribute to an overall impression of spaciousness. The higher rear roof line on the hatchback adds to the feeling of interior space.
Those form-fitting front bucket seats feel substantial and supportive. Packed with high-density foam, they feature swoopy indentations and firm side bolsters. The driver's seat is comfortable, and adjusts to fit even a tall frame. High off the floor, it provides excellent visibility through those tall windows all around.
The front seats in GL and GT models move in multiple ways to conform for leg length, seat height, lumbar curve, seatback tilt and headrest position. Also, the driver's seat (on GL and GT editions) provides a right-side armrest that folds up and out of the way when not wanted. Three-point seatbelts adjust for height. The curvaceous front door panels include an integrated armrest and a generous map pocket low near the floor.
The instrument panel orients the driver with large, clearly marked gauges set immediately forward of the steering wheel. These consist of a speedometer and tachometer with flanking dials indicating fuel level and engine temperature. (The base model omits the tachometer.) On base and GL models, white markings and red pointers over a dark gray field ensure an attractive appearance and easy readability. Accent GT gets fashionable white-faced gauges.
The surfaces of the doors and dash, coated in soft-touch synthetic material, feel refined, even sophisticated, which is unexpected for the class. The GT gets leather coverings for the steering wheel and shift knob.
All controls are close at hand, logical, and easy to operate. Large and easy-to-use rotary knobs for the audio and climate systems are stacked at the middle of the dash. The glove box is an ice-chest-size bin that drops down from below the passenger-side airbag, looking as though it could swallow a couple of six-packs of soda.
The back bench provides three-point belts and bucket-style spaces for outboard riders, plus a two-point belt on the center hump. The seatback splits 60/40 and folds to increase the capacity of the flat-floored trunk.
The Hyundai Accent accelerates briskly and rides smoothly. Its twin-cam, 16-valve, 1.6-liter inline-4 produces 103 horsepower at 5800 rpm, and 106 pound-feet of torque at just 3000 rpm. That's a good amount of low-speed torque for a four-cylinder. With its light weight, the Accent launches quickly into fast traffic, and easily keeps pace with highway speeds.
We found the Accent relatively quiet inside. The stiff structure of the body, plenty of sound-deadening insulation, and double door seals all work to block out noise from the motor and surrounding traffic.
The whole package weighs in at only about 2300 pounds, which explains in part why the Accent feels zippy. Cars are getting heavier and heavier these days, but Hyundai has bucked the trend. Weight is bad for acceleration, stopping distances, handling, and fuel economy. The Accent's favorable power-to-weight ratio combines with slippery aerodynamics and well-selected gear ratios to make the most of the engine's torque. Mileage is rated at 29 city and 33 highway for the five-speed manual transmission, and 26/35 mpg with the four-speed automatic.
Even the base model Accent is fun to drive and the sporty GT is definitely grin-producing. Accent handles mountain switchbacks with a poise and agility unexpected from a car in this price class.
Accent's relatively long wheelbase and all-independent suspension provide a smooth-riding platform. Yet the Accent responds quickly to the driver's demands. Steering geometry is optimized with a high caster angle to reduce front-end lift when accelerating or nose-dive during braking. Anti-roll (stabilizer) bars front and rear reduce body lean when cornering. To isolate noise and vibration, all of the front end's mechanical parts are attached via a sub-frame. That kind of sophisticated suspension engineering is rarely found in this price-conscious class, and it helps temper road noise.
Hyundai Accent does not behave like the low-budget economy car that its low price tag implies. Instead, it offers great value-for-money, with sophisticated mechanical equipment and comfortable amenities. Hyundai Accent is an impressive value with brisk performance, nimble handling, and a smooth and quiet ride. Accent comes with an aggressive warranty.
New Car Test Drive editor Mitch McCullough is based in Southern California. Bob Plunkett contributed to this report.
|Model Line Overview |
|Base Price (MSRP) |
|Model lineup: |
|Hyundai Accent GLS hatchback ($9,999); GLS Sedan ($10,499); GT hatchback ($10,599) |
|103-hp 1.6-liter dohc 16-valve inline-4 |
|5-speed manual; 4-speed automatic |
|Safety equipment (Standard): |
|dual front airbags, front-seat side airbags, rear seat child restraint anchors |
|Safety equipment (Optional): |
|anti-lock brakes |
|Basic warranty: |
|5 years/60,000 miles |
|Assembled in: |
|Asan, South Korea |
|Specifications As Tested |
|Model tested (MSRP): |
|Hyundai Accent GLS hatchback ($9,999) |
|Standard equipment: |
|power brakes, power steering, AM/FM/cassette stereo, dual exterior mirrors, intermittent windshield wipers, rear wiper/washer, side window defoggers, rear window defroster, trip odometer, tachometer, digital clock, cloth reclining front bucket seats with multiple adjustments for driver's seat, fold-down driver's armrest, storage console; tinted glass with sunshade band |
|Options as tested: |
|Popular Equipment Group ($1,290) includes air-conditioning, 6-speaker CD stereo, power windows, power mirrors, power door locks |
|Destination charge: |
|Gas Guzzler Tax: |
|Price as tested (MSRP) |
|front-wheel drive |
|1.6-liter dohc 16-valve inline-4 |
|Horsepower (hp @ rpm): |
|103 @ 5800 |
|Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): |
|106 @ 3000 |
|5-speed manual |
|EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: |
|29/33 mpg. |
|96.1 in. |
|166.7/65.7/54.9 in. |
|Track, f/r: |
|56.5/56.1 in. |
|Turning circle: |
|32.5 ft. |
|Seating capacity: |
|Head/hip/leg room, f: |
|38.9/54.1/42.6 in. |
|Head/hip/leg room, m: |
|Head/hip/leg room, r: |
|38.0/53.0/32.8 in. |
|Cargo volume: |
|16.9 cu. ft. |
|Towing capacity: |
|Suspension F: |
|independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar |
|Suspension R: |
|independent, Chapman struts with multiple links, coil springs, anti-roll bar |
|Ground clearance: |
|Curb weight: |
|2280 lbs. |
|Brakes, f/r: |
|disc/drum in. |
|Fuel capacity: |
|11.9 gal. |