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. A trend toward smaller, less expensive vehicles has brought a slew of new competitors to the field, including Korean partner Kia's Rio, Honda's Fit, Nissan's Versa, Toyota's Yaris, Ford's Fiesta and Chevrolet's Aveo. Still, not many can touch the Accent's low price and amazingly long warranty, or the fact that J.D Powers awarded the 2010 Accent top honors in its Initial Quality Survey for the sub-compact category. Those with an eye for style as well as thrift may find more to like with the Accent then its newer, but pricier, rivals.You'll Like This Car If...
If an ultra-practical and affordable subcompact is your next vehicle purchase, you'll appreciate the 2011 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, Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta or the Chevy Aveo.What's New for 2011
In an effort to keep prices in check, Hyundai has deleted the SE trim's sunroof for 2011. On the plus side, however, the GS trim gains a 172-watt six-speaker stereo with iPod, USB and auxiliary audio input jacks.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, 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.
The Accent's interior materials are consistent with its price: Generally inexpensive but with attractive textures and two-tone trim. Among the least-appealing items is the central swing-open bin that's shaped like an ashtray but isn't; the actual ashtray is an odd removable cup that sits atop the console. The radio is an easy-to-use unit with large knobs for volume and tuning, while the three-dial HVAC controls are attractive and have a quality feel – except for a too-stiff temperature dial.Exterior
While the SE three-door is sporty and expressive, we think the Accent Sedan is pretty plain vanilla. Its design is clean, functional and fairly aerodynamic, but hardly exciting. The best part is probably up front, with large wide-eyed headlamps, a full-width lower air intake and distinctive grilles – a body-color bar across the three-door models, a black-out pattern on the four-door. One nice touch is a body-color protective molding along each side to fend off shopping carts and help prevent door dings.Notable Standard Equipment
The modest GS standard-equipment list includes power steering, automatic transmission, tilt steering column, eight-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, 60/40-split rear seat, cabin air filtration, tachometer, variable intermittent wipers, 172-watt six-speaker audio system with CD/MP3 and iPod, USB and auxiliary audio input jack and a rear spoiler. The SE adds air conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors, remote keyless entry with alarm and panic alert, fog lights, sport suspension, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), cruise control, and 16-inch alloy wheels. The GLS Sedan has base GS equipment plus the option of a five-speed manual. All models boast extensive standard safety equipment, including seat-mounted side airbags and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags, in addition to advanced front airbags.Notable Optional Equipment
The GL trim can be equipped with air conditioning, while the GS trim offers the Premium Package which adds anti-lock brakes (ABS), power windows, locks and mirrors, remote keyless entry and alarm. The GLS Premium Package adds to this cruise control, tilt-wheel and steering-wheel mounted audio controls. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard on GS and available on GLS and SE, and there's a long list of port- and dealer-installed accessories, including Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.Under the Hood
Hyundai's 1.6-liter four has dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and CVVT (continuously Variable Valve Timing) on the intake side. It generates 110 horsepower and provides a very respectable – and wallet-friendly – 26/35 EPA miles per gallon when teamed with the optional automatic in the GLS Sedan.
1.6-liter in-line 4
110 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
106 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/34 (manual), 27/36 (automatic), 26/36 (Blue)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base 2011 Accent GL Hatchback starts under $11,000 with destination figured in, while the GS starts just over $14,000. The SE starts closer $16,000. Adding an automatic transmission adds another $800 to the bottom line. The 2011 GLS Sedan will sell for just under $14,500, about the same price as the comparable Toyota Yaris and a bit less than the Honda Fit or Ford Fiesta SE. Be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com to see what buyers are actually paying in your area. As for resale, we expect the Accent to hold average five-year values, slightly higher than the Kia Rio and Chevrolet Aveo, but well below the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris.