The all-new fourth-generation 2012 Hyundai Accent carries on the design philosophy already evidenced in the automaker's larger Elantra and Sonata models. The more evocative "Fluidic Sculpture" styling of this now-compact-sized front-driver is complemented by more efficient powertrain elements, a roomier, better appointed passenger compartment and an even longer list of standard and optional features.

All three of the Hyundai Accent models, the GLS sedan, GS and SE five-door hatchback, share the same high-tech engine, Kia's new 1.6-liter Gamma four. Equipped with direct-injection and Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT) as well as various anti-friction coatings, this all-alloy motivator makes a class-leading 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque and weighs 40 pounds less than the 1.6-liter Alpha engine it replaces. Teamed with either a new six-speed manual (in place of the old five-speed gearbox) or a new six-speed automatic with Shiftronic manual-style capability that replaces the previous four-speed, it helps the new Accent earn 30 mph EPA city ratings and become the fourth Hyundai model to hit the 40 mpg mark on the highway. The automatic also includes a driver-selectable ActiveECO function that modifies the engine/transmission controls and can bring about up to a seven-percent gain in real-world mileage as well as Hillstart Assist Control.

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Although powertrain enhancements account for the largest single boost to overall economy, a new motor driven power steering system, a "smart" alternator, low-rolling resistance tires and a cleaner (0.30 cd for the sedan, 0.31 cd for the five-door) aero profile also figure into the equation. Collectively these changes yield highway mileage gains of 11 percent on autoshifted Accents and 18 percent on those with manual transmission.

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The 2012 Hyundai Accent has grown modestly but meaningfully in all dimensions, with a 2.8-inch wheelbase stretch being the most obvious gain. Now moving into the EPA compact class, it offers outstanding people and cargo space in either body configuration coupled with a more stylish appearance, upgraded fits/finishes and a versatile 60/40 split-folding rear seat. The feature sets and options vary as you ascend the Accent model hierarchy, but all except the GLS with a manual transmission come with a full array of power assists, air conditioning, and AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio systems with XM Satellite Radio and iPod/USB connectivity -- all which are GLS options. Every 2012 Accent also includes a full complement of safety technology, including Vehicle Stability Mangement, four-wheel disc antilock brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake-force Distribution and front/front-side/side curtain airbags.

As in the past, exceptional value remains a central element of the new Accent formula. On sale this summer, the 2012 Hyundai Accent GLS sedan will start at $13,205 with manual transmission and $15,995 for a GLS automatic. The five-door GS duo will open at $15,355 and $16,555 while the sport SE set kick off at $16,555 and $17,555, respectively.


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