New for this model year, the 2012 Hyundai Accent offers a good-looking exterior, a spacious cabin, and ample trunk space. This winning combination alone might be enough to put the Accent on buyer's radar, but the gas mileage is icing on the cake. At 30 city and 40 highway, the Accent is the most fuel efficient non-hybrid in the small affordable car class.
In terms of esthetics, the redesign is a significant improvement over the 2011, which was a low performer with few interior features. Even though this is the entry-level model for Hyundai, priced in an MSRP range of $12,445 to $16,795, the Accent is not a bargain-rate vehicle, but rather a solid choice for the class that will deliver a high level of customer satisfaction.
Other cars to consider include, the Kia Rio, which was also redesigned for this model year, and open at $13,000 keeping it comfortably in the same price range. The Ford Fiesta is certainly on the list since it's a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Buyers willing to move up to an opening price of $15,000 to get a zippier ride should look at either the Mazda2 or the Honda Fit. Neither, however, can come close to the Accent in the gas mileage arena.
Available as a sedan or a hatchback, the Accent has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder (matched to either a six-speed manual or automatic), producing 138 hp with 123 lb. ft. of torque. Overall, the Accent delivers a stable drive with good acceleration, but somewhat soft passing performance. The cabin is very quiet, however, with little noise from the wind or road penetrating the interior. Many test drivers complain of a constant need to correct the steering, which suggests the electric-assist steering system is not as well-tuned as it should be.
The new exterior design is more in keeping with the Elantra and Sonata and manages a boldness rare in a car sold in this price range. Inside, Hyundai has created a cabin that comes quite close to being upscale. It is disappointing that navigation is not at option at at trim level, but that may be trumped by the fact that tall passengers are equally comfortable in the front and back, and almost unheard of compliment in a small car.
The base has power door locks, a four-speaker stereo, and tilt steering. From there, you have to start adding. With the Comfort Package you pick up AC, power windows and mirrors, an AM/FM stereo with satellite, and a USB port. If you really want it all, however, you'll need to lay out $1,300 for the Premium Package, which adds the automatic transmission option along with keyless entry, controls mounted on the wheel, cruise, Bluetooth, a sunglass holder, and a sliding armrest storage box.
On the sedan, the maximum cargo space is 13.7 cubic feet. The five-door hatchback offers 21.2 cubic feet when the rear seats are in use and 47.5 when they are folded. That's a fantastic amount of room compared to a competitor like the Ford Fiesta that just manages 26 cubic feet with the seas sown. If, however, you want best-in-class hauling, the Honda Fit is the small car for you with 57.3 cubic feet.
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have tested the 2012 Hyundai Accent. The standard safety features from the 2011 are still present and include six airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, vehicle stability management, and brake assist. For 2012, a tire pressure monitoring system and electronic stability control have been added because both are required by law.
All in all, Hyundai has wrapped up a nice package in the 2012 Accent. The cabin is lovely and quiet with an exceptional level of spaciousness, including a comfortable backseat. Amenities are skimpy on the base, but the opening price is so low, most drivers are willing to pony up for the desired add-ons. Although this is not the most powerful or best-handling small car out there, it's a great, incredibly fuel efficient, around town ride. Highly recommended.