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The Accent is Hyundai’s budget-minded car. While this was once the main arena for the automaker, the last several years have seen a dramatic change in the company. Much like the Japanese before them, Korea’s Hyundai has gone from a purveyor of small econocars to a full line automaker with a varied lineup. But it hasn’t forgotten its roots.
Accent comes in two body styles: two-door hatch or four-door sedan. The hatchback offers the highest fuel economy of any car Hyundai sells here, at an estimated 27 mpg around town and 36 mpg on the open road (when the Sonata Hybrid goes on sale it will take that crown). Its sole engine is a 1.6-liter, 110-horsepower inline-four, with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Whether it’s a hatch or a sedan, both transmissions are available.
Trim levels are GS, SE, and GLS. The Blue edition, with the highest fuel economy and lowest MSRP, only comes with the five-speed. Anti-lock brakes are optional, a rarity these days, but a tire-pressure monitoring system and six airbags come standard.
Bodystyles: Sedan, two-door hatchback
Engines: 1.6L I-4
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Models: GS, SE, GLS, Blue
There are only minor tweaks to the Accent for 2011. First, the power sunroof, which had only been available — and standard — on the SE model, has been dropped. In addition, due to low demand, Mellow Yellow paint has been discontinued. On the GL, though, the once-optional six-speaker AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with iPod/aux jack is now standard.
Both hatch and sedan have inoffensive designs, but also aren’t all that exciting. The sportiest model, the SE, comes with 16-inch wheels (14-inchers are standard on all other models) and foglights, among other features.
The cabin is functional and uncomplicated. Air-conditioning is standard on all models except the Blue edition. Sportier touches are offered with the SE, such as a B&M shifter, standard cruise control, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
With the Honda Fit in the Accent’s size and price category, it would be pretty tough to be the segment leader. It can’t catch the Fit on twisty roads, but does match the Fit in torque, all of 106 pound-feet. There is a sporty model available, the SE, which is a hatchback that comes with a B&M short-shifting manual, sport-tuned suspension, and standard ABS.
Driver and passenger front airbags are standard, along with side impact airbags and front and rear head curtains. Disc and drum brakes are standard. ABS isn’t available with the Blue edition, is standard with the SE, and is optional otherwise.
Blue: 26 mpg city/36 mpg highway
GS, GLS, SE: 27-28 mpg city/34-36 mpg highway
Great fuel economy
Sporty SE model
Six standard airbags
ABS is optional
Honest and economical