The 2012 Hyundai Accent joins 40 MPG club
Accent delivers best-in-class horsepower and fuel economy
Joining the Elantra and Sonata Hybrid, the 2012 Hyundai Accent is the third car in this Korean brand's lineup that achieves an EPA-estimated 40 mpg on the highway. Waiting in the product pipeline is the all-new 2012 Hyundai Veloster, which will bring the total to four 40-mpg cars.
As Hyundai points out at every opportunity, there are no disclaimers attached to the 40-mpg rating. Every Elantra, Sonata Hybrid and Accent boasts that EPA 40-mpg number without regard to trim level, transmission or price, as will Veloster.
Despite its foray into high-end sedans, such as the Genesis and Equus, Hyundai still considers itself a maker of vehicles for the masses. If you doubt that, simply take a gander at its redesigned 2011 Elantra and the just-released 2012 Accent.
Hyundai continues offering the redesigned Accent as a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback. Sedans are exclusively available in the GLS trim, while the hatchback can be dressed in either GS or up-level SE trim. Hyundai expects buyers to take sedans and hatchbacks in about equal numbers.
I recently spent a couple of hours tearing around roads in the Nevada desert in a $17,555 top-of-the-line Accent SE with automatic transmission. Comparably equipped sedans are less pricey than the hatchbacks. The top-end GLS with automatic transmission and Premium Package rings the register at $17,255, including delivery charge.
At $13,205, the entry-level GLS with manual tranny is a bare-bones conveyance. Although itís equipped with a trip computer, four speakers, power door locks, six airbags and a tilt steering wheel, it doesn't come with an audio system, power windows or mirrors, or air conditioning. You need to spend extra for either the automatic transmission or the aptly named Comfort Package to add these amenities.
Among key competitors such as Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Aveo, Mazda2, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit and Nissan Versa, the 2012 Accent wins the horsepower battle hands down. At 117 horsepower, Fit comes closest to the 138 horsepower generated by Accent's 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine.
Hustling engine production to the front wheels falls to either a six-speed manual or an extra-cost six-speed, driver-shiftable automatic transmission with hill-start control. The cost of moving up to the automatic tranny varies with the trim level and the other upgrades Hyundai bundles with it. The price jump is a hefty $2,750 for the GLS, but air conditioning, power windows and outboard mirrors, and an audio system with satellite radio, CD player, iPod/USB port, and auxiliary input jack come with the transmission upgrade.
Opting for the automatic transmission in the SE only adds $1,000 to the bottom line because it includes just the transmission.
Although Accent's engine performance is more enthusiastic than the competition, it still manages to beat its rivals' fuel economy. In case you missed it, the EPA rates its highway fuel economy at 40 mpg. At 30 mpg, its city number is impressive as well. The Fiesta with automatic transmission comes closest to Accent's numbers with 29 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.
Bringing every Accent to a stop are four-wheel disc brakes with antilock. Traction control, stability control, electronic brake force distribution and emergency braking assist are all standard.
Typical in the subcompact segment, Accent's suspension consists of independent MacPherson struts in front and a torsion axle in the rear. Coil springs at all four wheels with hydraulic twin-tube gas shocks fore and gas-filled monotube shocks aft round out the suspension's main components.
Surprisingly well balanced, the suspension delivers decent ride quality and fairly crisp handling. With its quicker response, steering is noticeably better in the latest Accent.
Both the sedan and hatchback are bigger for 2012, with a longer wheelbase. This translates into 37.8 inches of rear-seat legroom in the hatchback and 37.2 inches in the sedan, or about 3 inches more than in the 2011 Accents. Cargo space behind the backseat is up considerably in the hatchback from 15.9 cubic feet to 21 cubic feet. Itís up marginally in the sedan to 13.7 cubic feet.
Beautifully styled, the interior looks more expensive than expected given Accent's modest price tag. Soft-touch materials cover most surfaces. Plastic is in liberal supply, but Hyundai has done a good job disguising it. Simple, easy-to-operate controls oversee the audio and climate systems. Available in all but the base GLS, Accent boasts the only sliding armrest storage console in its class. In fact, Accent has more storage compartments with more storage capacity than any of the competitors named above.
Although I didn't spend a lot of time in them, the front seats seem supportive enough for longer trips. If the steering wheel telescoped as well as tilted, driving wouldíve been a little more comfortable. The height-adjustable driver's seat did help to improve the driving position.
Just because Accent anchors Hyundai's lineup doesn't mean thereís a shortage of creature comforts or an absence of high-tech features. Remote keyless entry, Bluetooth cell phone connectivity and leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant audio controls are all available.
The 2012 Hyundai Accent is what it is, an entry-level car; however, for its price, it delivers better-than-expected quality, excellent fuel economy, decent passenger comfort and the best warranty in the business. What else do you want from an entry-level car?
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Provided by The News Herald