- Strong engine
- Plenty of standard and optional features
- Feels bigger than it is
- Engaging style inside and out
- Long warranty
- Limited rear visibility in hatchback
- Competitors offer more options
- Fuel economy not as good as estimates suggest
With Hyundai gripped by a frenzy of redesigns and new product launches, it was only a matter of time before the automaker sent its subcompact Accent to get fit. The 2012 Hyundai Accent is so thoroughly awakened from a life of invisibility that its transformation reads like a classic Hans Christian Andersen fable.
Before, the Accent perfectly represented the bland aesthetics and underwhelming excitement that most subcompact buyers settled for. This all-new version of the entry-level Hyundai now shares the sharp styling of the similarly reimagined Sonata and Elantra, making it more an object of pride than embarrassment for a new owner.
Offered as either a sedan or hatchback, the fourth-generation Accent's wheelbase has grown 3 inches, yielding a more accommodating interior that, like other new Hyundai models, features an attractive finish and a long list of standard conveniences. Equally noteworthy is the new 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that boasts strong power and fuel economy for the segment. A pair of new six-speed transmissions rounds out the powertrain upgrades.
The Accent's redesign now enables it to run with stiff competition. The Honda Fit offers a more versatile interior, the Ford Fiesta packs more technology, the Mazda 2 handles better, and the redesigned Kia Rio shares similar underpinnings but with bolder styling. Then there's the new Chevrolet Sonic, which is perhaps the most well-rounded of them all. Still, the Hyundai Accent is invisible no more and definitely deserves a look.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2012
Fully redesigned, the 2012 Hyundai Accent features a more powerful and efficient engine, a new four-door hatchback body style and upgraded interior.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2012 Hyundai Accent is a compact four-door sedan or four-door hatchback. The sedan is offered only in base GLS trim, while the hatchback comes in GS and the top-line SE trims.
The GLS sedan comes equipped with 14-inch steel wheels, power door locks, a tilt steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, a trip computer and an audio prep package with four speakers. Options include a Comfort package with air-conditioning, power windows and mirrors, cloth door inserts and the rest of the sound system (including a CD player, satellite radio and iPod and auxiliary audio input jacks). All of these features are included on a GLS with automatic transmission.
The Premium package offered on automatic-equipped GLS models bundles together foglights, 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, premium cloth upholstery, upgraded interior trim, a center storage console with sliding armrest, cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and Bluetooth.
The GS hatchback adds body-color mirrors and door handles, a rear window wiper, keyless entry and a driver seat armrest to the features included with the GLS Comfort package. Stepping up to the SE hatchback adds 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and the equipment from the Premium package.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Along with extending its footprint, the 2012 Hyundai Accent's new interior dimensions graduate it from the subcompact segment into the EPA's official "compact" class. Much of the Accent's additional space comes from the rear seat, with more headroom and legroom making the backseat ride comfortable for even 6-foot passengers. The sloping roof line does eat into some available headroom, however, and fifth passengers will find the rear seat's raised center section useful only when walking is the remaining option.
Although the front seats are suitably roomy, taller drivers may bemoan the lack of a telescoping steering wheel. The hatchback also features some compromised rearward visibility. But overall, the Accent's patterned upholstery fabric and updated dash, consoles, trim and storage nooks contribute to an upscale feel for a car of this class.
The Accent sedan offers relatively large trunk space at 13.7 cubic feet. The four-door hatchback, meanwhile, provides 21.2 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats up and 47.5 cubic feet when folded.
All 2012 Hyundai Accents come with a long list of standard safety features including antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Accent came to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet, an average distance for this class of car.
In government crash testing, the Accent received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, overall frontal protection and overall side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Accent the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and roof strength tests, but the second-best rating of "Acceptable" in the side impact test.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2012 Hyundai Accent's sole engine is a new 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder that produces 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. The front-wheel-drive Accent is available with either a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic with a fuel-economy-boosting Eco mode. In Edmunds performance testing, an Accent GLS with the automatic went from zero to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds -- a fairly quick time for the class.
EPA fuel economy estimates with the automatic transmission are 28 mpg city/37 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined with the automatic transmission and 28/37/32 with the manual.
In the times of 500-plus-horsepower supercars, the 2012 Hyundai Accent's 138-hp output might sound paltry. Yet this sophisticated direct-injection four-cylinder pulls significantly stronger than the power plants of its major competitors (with the exception of the turbocharged Chevy Sonic). Both the six-speed manual and the six-speed automatic transmissions make good use of that output, too. Under hard acceleration, the engine remains smooth but can get rather noisy.
On the road, the Accent provides both a comfortable ride and decent handling. What it lacks in sporty steering and suspension settings, it compensates for with balance and composure -- criteria likely more important to buyers shopping this segment.
Larger, sharper and more fuel-efficient, the redesigned 2012 Hyundai Accent deserves buyer consideration as an affordable, stylish new car.