2009 Hyundai Accent
While the streets of Europe may be flush with low-buck, fun-to-drive, eco-friendly transportation, small-displacement cars don’t enjoy much success here in the land of the free. Most buyers see economical cars as little more than throwaways destined to a long, tortuous life at the hands of the family teenager. The Hyundai Accent SE 3-Door
is out to change that perception. A comfortable and attractive interior with gobs of standard features, snappy looks outside and a fuel-thrifty 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, make this Hyundai perfect for couples with limited parking or families looking for an inexpensive commuter. With an MSRP under $16,000 and an undeniable 100,000-mile warranty, the Hyundai Accent SE 3-Door is hard to beat. Though power from the tiny four-cylinder isn’t going to be winning drag races anytime soon, the car’s lightweight and sport-oriented suspension make it more entertaining to drive than you may expect.
What's to Like
Inside, the seats are both comfortable and good looking, and the dash layout is easy to navigate. Great brakes and a stout suspension make the car flingable through the apexes, and a 33 mpg EPA rating won’t hurt anyone’s feelings, either. A high level of standard equipment for the car’s price is also nice.
What's Not to Like
Despite producing 110 horsepower, the 1.6-liter four-cylinder on board runs out of steam toward the end of the tach. We wouldn’t mind having a few more ponies to play with, and the interior can be noisy at highway speeds.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
Like most compact hatches, the Accent delivers a fairly high seating position – giving you great visibility from the cockpit. The comfy seats provide plenty support, a rare feature in a car of this price. While there’s very little power to be had, the Accent’s lightweight MacPherson strut front suspension keeps the car planted for sure-footed driving, and before long, you’ll be comfortable whipping this tiny hatch through corners at eye-widening speeds – at least for a car this size. Cabin noise can be a bother, especially on the highway, and the 1.6-liter four-cylinder makes more noise than it does power. Still for a daily commute, the cabin is cozy but not cramped, and the use of hard plastics has been kept to a surprising minimum.
Engine and Drivetrain
Under the hood, there’s an efficient 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 110 horsepower and 106 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed transmission
is standard, though a four-speed automatic gearbox is also available. Our tester was equipped with a quick-shifting five-speed manual unit that made the best of the available power, though could be aggravating to get into and out of reverse.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
The SE is a mid-level trim designed to be more sports oriented than its counterparts. As such, the car comes equipped with larger stabilizer bars in the front and rear as well as a quicker ratio steering rack and stouter springs and dampers. The result is a car that’s plenty fun to drive, even if it is a bit anemic in the power department. The SE 3-Door comes standard with power steering, windows, mirrors and locks, as well as anti-lock brakes and electronic brake force distribution. An array of airbags keeps occupants safe as well.
Key Technology Evaluation
Being a low-buck ride, the Accent doesn’t have much to brag about in the tech department. SE trim does afford you a six-speaker AM/FM/XM stereo with MP3 capability and an AUX jack as standard equipment, however.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
As you might expect, the Hyundai Accent SE 3-Door is plenty thrifty at the pump. The car manages to get 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway in manual trim and 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway in automatic guise. Our tester afforded us better mileage than the EPA’s estimate.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
The Accent’s interior won’t be inspiring any literary works, but it is more attractive than most of its competition out there. A handsome fabric pattern adorns the seats, and the dash is sculpted without being obnoxious. There’s plenty of space for someone at least 6 feet tall up front, and the back seats easily accommodate a teenager or two.
Outside, Hyundai’s budget ride has shirked its quirky looks for a somewhat sporty appearance. With its wheels pushed far to each corner and a lunging body crease, the car is good looking, especially when lined up next to competition like the Chevrolet Aveo.
Market Segment and Pricing
Starting at $15,070, the Accent SE 3-Door comes well equipped, and by and large you can skip the option sheet all together. The MSRP means this Hyundai locks horns with the likes of the Toyota Yaris
at $12,205, the Chevrolet Aveo
at $12,685, the Nissan Versa at $9,990 and the Honda Fit
at $14,750. While those competitors may seem to undercut the Accent SE by quite a bit, it’s important to remember the base Hyundai starts at $9,970.
What We Think Hyundai
really surprised us with the Accent SE 3-door. Gone are the clicks and rattles we once associated with the brand, replaced by solid build quality, fit and finish. Special attention paid to the car’s suspension means the Accent is a blast to fling through corners, even if the engine doesn’t serve up the kind of pep we appreciate.
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