2009 Accent New Car Test Drive
The Hyundai Accent is roomy, comfortable, well-appointed and practical. We find it a viable alternative to the Toyota Yaris, Scion xD, Honda Fit, and Nissan Versa. The Accent offers more interior volume than Yaris, Fit, and xD subcompacts, as well as the Corolla and Civic compact cars.
Power for the Accent comes from a clean and sophisticated 1.6-liter double overhead-cam engine, featuring variable valve timing and delivering slightly more power than the Yaris or Fit. The environmentally friendly Accent is an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle, or ULEV, and rates 33 mpg in the latest, 2008 EPA Highway tests. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has recognized the Hyundai Accent as one of the top 12 'greenest' vehicles you can buy.
What's more, this emphasis on economy and environment does not come at the expense of safety; in fact, Accent offers a generous list of safety features. Six airbags (front, seat-mounted side-impact, and side-curtain) are standard on all models; antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are optional on the sedan and standard on the sporty SE coupe. The Accent and the related Kia Rio are among the least expensive cars on the market with these important safety features.
Hyundai last redesigned the Accent sedan for 2006, and released the latest coupe that spring. While the sedan brings some suave to the entry-level family segment, the coupe is clearly seeking street cred, offering hip accessories ranging from a strut-tower brace to faux carbon-fiber trim.
New for 2008, all audio systems include XM Satellite Radio with a three-month subscription, and an auxiliary audio input jack. There's a new instrument cluster available, and a new alloy wheel design for sedans. 2008 Accent SE coupes come with a B&M sport shifter, plus a rear center armrest with cupholders, and coupes are now available in Mellow Yellow.
We think people in the market for small, practical, but hardly Spartan car should consider the Hyundai Accent alongside the best from the Japanese name brands. A generous five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty with roadside assistance and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty make the Accent a particularly good deal for anyone who does not want to buy a used car and intends to keep the vehicle for an extended period of time.
The 2008 Hyundai Accent is available in two body styles and three levels of trim: a basic GS coupe, a nicer GLS four-door sedan, and a sporty SE coupe. A 110-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine powers all models. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, a four-speed automatic transmission is optional.
The Accent GS coupe ($10,775) comes with cloth upholstery, eight-way adjustable driver's seat, fold-down driver's armrest, center console with two cupholders, a recline feature for its split-folding (60/40) rear seat, a tilting steering column, tachometer, digital clock, two 12-volt power outlets, cabin air filtration, two-speed plus variable-intermittent windshield wipers, rear-window defroster, power steering, and P175/70TR14 tires on steel wheels. There's no radio, but GS does come with four speakers, so installing an aftermarket unit is relatively easy.
Air conditioning is not standard, but it is part of a Popular Equipment Package ($1,350) that includes a six-speaker, 172-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with an auxiliary input jack. A Premium Package ($1,850) combines the Popular Package with power windows, power body-color mirrors, power door locks with remote keyless entry, body-color door handles, and an alarm with panic feature.
The Accent GLS sedan ($12,925) comes with air conditioning and the six-speaker, 172-watt stereo, along with illuminated vanity mirrors and 185/65HR14 tires on 14-inch steel wheels. The sedan's Popular Equipment Package ($950) adds anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, power windows with driver's express-down, power mirrors, power door locks, remote keyless entry, and an alarm with panic alert. The Premium Package ($1,350) combines all of the above with 195/55VR15 tires on 15-inch aluminum wheels.
The Accent SE coupe ($14,575) comes with a sport-tuned suspension, ABS with EBD, rear spoiler and wiper/washer, and P205/45VR16 tires on five-spoke aluminum wheels. The SE also comes with all Premium Package features, plus fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, metallic interior accents, express-down for the driver's-side window, seat-back pockets, and illuminated vanity mirrors. Manual-transmission models now come with a B&M sport shifter. A power sunroof is optional ($900).
No other factory options are listed, but Hyundai offers more than 35 port or dealer-installed accessories for the coupes, including a DC Sports front strut tower brace, AEM short ram intake, 570-watt Kenwood AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with Kenwood speakers and subwoofer, aluminum door sills, carbon fiber B-pillar applique, ground effects kit, and an alloy fuel door.
Safety features for all Accents include front seatbelt pre-tensioners along with six airbags: dual frontal, front-seat side-impact, and full-coverage side curtain. Head restraints are adjustable at all five seating positions, unusual for this price class. New for 2008 is a tire-pressure monitor system that comes standard.