- Supportive seats
- Peppy acceleration with manual transmission
- Unusually satisfying stereo for this segment
- Relatively quiet cabin
- Impressive warranty coverage
- Low side-impact crash test scores
- Sluggish acceleration with automatic transmission
- Antilock brakes aren't standard
- Harsh ride over irregular surfaces
"V" stands for "value," and the 2010 Hyundai Accent may as well come with this letter spray-painted on its hood. Hatchbacks are known for being the go-to segment for shoppers seeking the most inexpensive automotive choices, and in this crowd of affordable alternatives, the plucky Accent hatch stands out by having the lowest price tag of the bunch. Another plus to consider is the generous Hyundai warranty.
Cars in this austere segment are known for being practical, not fun, but the Accent bucks this trend -- it's relatively enjoyable to drive. Its 1.6-liter four-cylinder generates just 110 horsepower, yet the car manages to deliver peppy acceleration when equipped with a manual transmission (its low curb weight no doubt helps). Economy cars typically have clamorous cabins, but the Accent's while not exactly tranquil is one of the least noisy of the bunch. Another selling point is the car's stereo; as far as sound quality is concerned, it's one of the best picks in this category.
For 2010, all Accents have a revised version of the 1.6-liter engine that's slightly more fuel efficient than it was previously. Additionally, the Accent gets a new trim level -- the Accent Blue. Thanks to revised gear ratios, the Blue is the most fuel-efficient Accent available; it's also the least expensive choice in the Accent's lineup. Unfortunately, the Blue isn't available with antilock brakes (ABS); we tested an Accent GS last year that was missing this safety feature, and stopping distances were quite long. The Accent GS is now available with ABS. We'd recommend that buyers avoid the Blue and instead spend a little extra to get the GS with the ABS option.
Now more than ever, the economy-car segment is loaded with worthwhile choices, each with something unique to offer. If you're looking for entertaining driving dynamics, you'll want to check out the upcoming Ford Fiesta. The Honda Fit offers a more versatile interior and nimble handling, while the Nissan Versa offers a more refined and spacious cabin, and a bevy of high-tech amenities. Still, the 2010 Hyundai Accent deserves attention on the strength of its pleasant personality and low price.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2010
A new trim level is introduced for 2010: the Hyundai Accent Blue, which becomes the model's least expensive and most fuel-efficient trim. All Accents also benefit from new engine enhancements to further improve fuel economy over last year. Inside, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls are now standard on the SE and available as an option on the GLS; the standard equipment list on the SE has also grown to include cruise control and a sunroof. Antilock brakes are now available on the Accent GS, and USB connectivity has been added to the auxiliary inputs on all audio-equipped models.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2010 Hyundai Accent is sold as a two-door hatchback and a sedan. The hatchback comes in three trim levels: Blue, GS and SE. The sedan is sold as a GLS only.
The base Blue two-door hatchback makes do without a standard stereo, but it does feature 14-inch steel wheels, a six-way-adjustable driver seat with height adjustment, and a reclining 60/40-split rear seatback. The options list is pretty much limited to air-conditioning. The GS adds air-conditioning, body-colored outside mirrors and door handles, a rear wiper with washer, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel and a remote hood release. Power accessories, keyless entry, an alarm and a six-speaker CD/MP3 audio system with satellite radio and auxiliary/USB audio jacks are optional.
The Accent SE two-door hatchback includes the GS's optional features as standard equipment and adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, a firmer suspension, foglamps and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. The Accent GLS sedan mostly shares its standard features and options with the GS. Optional Bluetooth connectivity is available across all trims.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The Accent's cabin looks as basic and plain as it gets, but the seats are well-contoured and supportive, and visibility is excellent. Even base models come standard with height-adjustable driver seats, and this makes it easy for even taller drivers to get comfortable behind the wheel. With coarse seat fabric and cheap plastics, the Accent's materials quality falls short of that seen in rivals like the Nissan Versa.
The rear seats are adequately roomy -- there's enough rear legroom for average-sized adults and children. However, keep in mind that in hatchback models, accessing the second row becomes tricky due to the narrow distance between the front seats and the door sill. Cargo room is about average for the class, with more than 12 cubic feet in the sedan's trunk and nearly 16 cubic feet in the hatchback.
All 2010 Hyundai Accents are equipped with front-seat side impact airbags and full-length head curtain airbags. Antilock brakes are standard on SE hatchbacks and optional on GS hatchbacks and GLS sedans. In government frontal impact crash testing, the Hyundai Accent sedan scored a perfect five stars for front occupant protection. Despite the standard side airbags, though, the Accent didn't fare as well in the side-impact category, earning four stars for front occupant protection and just three stars for rear seat passengers.
In testing done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Accent received the second-highest "Acceptable" rating for frontal-offset collisions but the worst-possible "Poor" ranking in side impact tests. In brake testing, an Accent with ABS stopped from 60 mph in a respectable 122 feet; without it, that distance shoots up to 155 feet.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The front-wheel-drive 2010 Hyundai Accent is equipped with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine delivering 110 hp and 106 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on all trims, and a four-speed automatic is available as an option on all trims except the Blue. In performance testing, a manual-equipped Accent went from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds.
In regards to fuel economy, the Accent Blue has an EPA rating of 27 city/36 highway and 31 combined. All other Accents are rated at 28 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined with the manual gearbox, while the optional automatic checks in at 27/36/30 mpg.
When driving an Accent equipped with the manual gearbox, it's easy to forget that there are only 110 horses under the hood. Acceleration with the manual transmission is certainly respectable considering the car's entry-level status. However, the four-speed automatic does the engine no favors; unless you're a fan of tepid acceleration, we'd suggest choosing the manual.
The ride is compliant on Blue, GS and GLS models, while the SE's firmer suspension tuning trades some comfort for greater road-holding capabilities. The Accent has one of the quietest cabins in its class; still, the engine can get buzzy at higher revs. All in all, the 2010 Hyundai Accent is one of the more endearing entry-level economy cars from behind the wheel.
The enjoyable and value-packed 2010 Hyundai Accent proves that an entry-level economy car needn't be a penalty box.