Quick Drive: 2008 Hyundai Accent
The Hyundai Accent is easily one of the most overlooked cars on the market. Not terribly surprising, since on the whole, the Accent is a fairly nondescript three-door hatch and sedan. However, Hyundai's entry-level offering is worthy of a closer look by anyone in the market for a small, inexpensive car.
The base Accent GS starts at under $11,000, which is as bargain-basement as it gets. It doesn't feel cheap, though, and I could detect no rattles or squeaks during my stint in an SE hatch model, although there's plenty of interior noise at freeway speeds. The interior is Spartan, but ergonomically sound. Material quality is about what you'd expect for 11 grand, but somehow still better than that of most airplanes. Unlike some of its competition, the Accent is simple and doesn't try to rebel and be different.
On the road, the Accent's 110-horse four-banger isn't going to burn up any rubber, but it's reasonable for urban driving if you're rarely going past the 40-mph mark. Its EPA-rating of 27 mpg city is par for the class, giving up just two mpg to the Toyota Yaris. As with any three-door hatch, it's easy to maneuver and park, which is great in a city like Los Angeles.
Gearing is the Accent's weak point. The five-speed manual equipped model (a four-speed auto is also available) isn't set up well for freeway cruising, with fifth gear regularly cranking the engine to around 3500 rpm at 70 mph. With better gearing or an extra cog, the Accent's EPA-rating of 33 mpg highway could probably be brought closer to 40.
The Accent SE we tested clocked in at close to $15,000. For that money, you get 16-inch alloy wheels, a strut tower brace, body-color door handles and mirrors, standard ABS, air-conditioning, power windows and door locks, rear-window wiper, and a 172-watt six-speaker stereo system, along with several other convenience features. Money well spent, and even at that price, the Accent doesn't give up much to the competition.
By Kirill Ougarov March 21, 2008