Hyundai Accent Overview
Style and glamour may have eluded the Hyundai Accent, but since its 1995 introduction, this economy car has quietly established itself as one of the better-built, better-performing choices at the bottom end of the new car market. Although grouped with the subcompact cars in their price range, the Accent sedan and hatchback have always fallen under the EPA's classification for a compact car, which translates to a surprisingly roomy interior. Other Accent advantages include a nicely furnished cabin, a long standard equipment list and adequate acceleration and handling. Generous warranty coverage is another plus: Since 1999, Hyundai has backed the Accent with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty.
If there's any reason you wouldn't want to buy the generally competent Hyundai Accent, it's the increasingly diverse selection at the lower end of the economy car segment. Competing import manufacturers have introduced new models with added style, personality and options availability. Another drawback is the Accent's typically low resale value (though this does make it quite affordable on the used market). For buyers who don't need all the glitz and plan to keep their car for more than five years, though, the Hyundai Accent is a sensible choice among budget sedans and three-door hatchbacks. Transmission choices are either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic.
Inside, there's a clean, two-tone decor with straightforward controls. Materials are tasteful in appearance and solid in quality, with just a few cheap plastics on the console and dash. In terms of feature content, the Hyundai Accent otherwise delivers on all the essentials. The base GS hatchback starts you out with front seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a full set of three-point seatbelts, split-folding rear seats and AM/FM radio. You'll most likely want to add options (or step up to a higher trim level) that include Hyundai Accent Accessories like antilock brakes, air-conditioning, power accessories, keyless entry, a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. Of particular note is the top-line Accent SE hatchback, which adds 16-inch alloy wheels and sport-tuned suspension and steering.
In reviews, we've found the Hyundai Accent to be a good choice for those seeking basic, fuel-efficient transportation. Driving the Accent offers no revelations in performance, but the brakes are strong, and ride quality and handling are fully acceptable for an economy car. The four-cylinder engine provides ample power for driving around town, but acceleration can be sluggish at highway speeds on automatic-transmission models. We recommend getting the manual gearbox if you can. The current-generation Hyundai Accent dates back to 2006, when it was introduced in sedan body style only -- the two-door hatchback arrived a year later. Compared to its predecessor, this generation featured sleeker and more upscale exterior styling (especially the hatchback) and a higher-quality interior.
Interior room increased and as a result, average-size adults could get comfortable in the front or rear. There have been no major changes made to the Accent other than a slight bump in fuel economy for '09, as well as the added options of cruise control and a sunroof. The second-generation Accent was sold in sedan and hatchback form from 2000-'05. Initially, this Accent was offered only with an 89-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine (horsepower varied slightly over the years). A 104-hp, 1.6-liter engine joined the lineup in 2001 and replaced the 1.5-liter altogether in 2003. Acceleration was adequate even with the 1.5-liter engine, however, and both the automatic and manual transmissions perform acceptably.
Handling and braking capabilities were modest on second-gen Accents, mainly because of the car's undersized 13-inch wheels and tires. Hyundai did offer the '04 and '05 GT hatchback with 14-inch wheels and a firmer suspension, but if you're buying any used Accent, it's a good idea to set aside some money for better tires. Unfortunately, antilock brakes were optional only on 2005 Accents. Front seat-mounted side airbags were standard on '03 GL sedans and hatchbacks, and on all '04 and '05 models. All Accents of this era came with a 92-hp, 1.5-liter engine, except for the '96 and '97 GT hatch, which had a DOHC, 16-valve version of this engine good for 105 hp.