Hyundai continues its remarkable product run with the introduction of the 2012 Accent, a subcompact jewel that joins Hyundai’s growing 40-mpg club. Completely redesigned for 2012, the Accent has more power and better mileage, but drivers should also like the prices for 4-door GLS and 5- door SE and GS models.
The GLS with manual transmission starts at $12,445 (which does not include air conditioning) and goes up to $16,495 for the automatic with the premium package. The GS ranges from $14,595 to $15,795; and the SE is priced from $15,795 to $16,795. Freight adds $760 to each car.
Three other Hyundai vehicles Elantra, Sonata Hybrid and the soon-to-be-released Veloster already get or will get 40 mpg in highway fuel economy. Despite its 40 mpg rating (30 mpg in the city), the Accent is bigger, heavier and has more power than the previous model. It competes in the market as a subcompact, but the Accent is officially classified as a compact by the EPA.
The mileage figures are due in large part to the Accent’s new 1.6-liter Gamma GDI engine, which is 40 pounds lighter than the outgoing Alpha engine. This amazing little 4-cylinder bangs out a class-leading 138 horsepower at 6300 rpm and 123 lb.-ft. of torque at 4850 rpm. Two transmissions are available: a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic.
Also helping with mileage figures are the vehicle’s electric power steering, an alternator management system, low rolling resistance silica tires and a lower coefficient of drag. It all adds up to an 18.1 percent savings in fuel over the previous model. And the Accent’s highway range on a tank of fuel is up to 456 miles. If you ask me, that’s worth the price of admission right there.
All Accent models ride on a 101.2- inch wheelbase, which is nearly 3 inches longer than the previous version. The 4-door Accent is 172 inches long and the hatchback is 162. As a result, Accent has very generous interior space for a subcompact, and lots of storage space. On our initial test drive, the Accent seemed confident and stable through twisting turns and rough roads. The cabin was quiet, but not pin-drop perfect. The seats were comfortable, and headroom was fine for my 6-foot-plus frame. The car was tight in hard corners turns and had scant body roll, but that should be true of all cars this size.
Safety features include 6 airbags, active front head restraints, stability and traction control and 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with brakeforce distribution and brake assist, features not normally found standard on subcompacts.
Hyundai calls the exterior design of the Accent “fluidic sculpture,” and uses words like futuristic, dynamic and sleek to describe it. Considering that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I tend to shy away from passing judgment on sheet metal designs. The Accent has a nice enough design, but I’ll let you judge for yourself whether it is “futuristic, dynamic or sleek.” People can argue about what’s attractive, but nobody can argue with the Accent’s performance and value.
It seems like the South Korean car company whose name rhymes with Sunday can do little wrong these days. The Elantra and Sonata are the No. 2 and 3 most researched new sedans, according to Kelley Blue Book, and Hyundai’s market share has doubled since the fourth quarter of 2009. The company expects to sell more than 600,000 vehicles this year in the United States.
Hyundai is achieving this growth because of its products. That’s just what happens when you build a solid, affordable car that will take you 40 miles on a gallon of gas.