By KBB.com Editors
Introduced in 1994, the Hyundai Accent led U.S. entry-level car sales from 2000-2005, mostly due to its value for the money and an aggressive warranty. Now that fluctuating high fuel prices have this segment heating up, Hyundai's third-generation Accent will have tough new competition for 2009 – Korean partner Kia's Rio, Honda's Fit, Nissan's Versa, Toyota's Yaris and Chevrolet's upgraded Aveo – but it still should continue to be up to the task.You'll Like This Car If...
If an ultra-practical and affordable subcompact is your next vehicle purchase, you'll appreciate the 2009 Hyundai Accent's value, which includes numerous safety features, a long warranty and unusual availability of accessories. If your driving aspirations are bigger than your budget, you should also appreciate the SE three-door's sporty look, astonishingly responsive handling and cornering capability.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you want something a bit more expressive, especially in a four-door sedan, or prefer a Japanese or domestic brand, you should take a good look at the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa and the surprisingly competitive Chevy Aveo.What's New for 2009
For 2009, cruise control is added to the Popular Equipment Package, and the SE Premium Package now includes a power sunroof. Those with an eye on pump prices and their wallet will be happy to know that fuel economy estimates are up over those for last year's model.Driving It Driving Impressions
Hyundai's 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine generates 110 horsepower, but it's hardly a strong performer. Driving the optional four-speed automatic in our test GLS sedan, it managed zero-to-60 mph acceleration in a bit over 13 seconds. By today's standards, that's on the slow side. The SE three-door with the manual five-speed transmission can do it in about 11 seconds. Also, like most small engines in inexpensive cars, it's a bit noisy and thrashy at high rpm. Otherwise, our GLS rode and drove fairly well and scooted through turns with surprising response. Despite its eight manual adjustments, the driver's seat did not provide a really comfortable position for us, and its rearward adjustment was insufficient for our longish legs. The cloth-lined trunk is relatively roomy and the rear-seat pass-through is handy, but rear roominess is just par for the class.Favorite Features
We were pleasantly surprised with the steering and handling of our Premium Package-equipped test GLS on its available 15-inch tires and alloy wheels, and the sports-oriented SE three-door does even better on its 16-inch tire-and-wheel package.
An extra-long warranty is one thing an automaker can offer to improve buyer confidence and Hyundai's is one of the best, with five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage that's matched with impressive quality improvements.