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We test the Hyundai Accent SE

by Ali Arsham
Monday, February 27, 2012


Hyundai Accent SE

Little cars are all over the place in most of the world but in the US, they have not been a huge success.  With gas prices going up Americans are finally starting to think that maybe they don’t need to drive their full size SUV to work every day that gets 14 mpg.  So now we are getting many choices in the B class segment such as the Hyundai Accent. 

Small B class cars have been on our shores before but in the past they have been tin cans that screamed cheap wherever you went and you would be embarrassed to be seen in one.  Now things are different. 

Our Hyundai Accent is small and inexpensive but it is a very comfortable and safe car as well.  Our friends at Hyundai were nice enough to get us access to a 2012 Hyundai Accent SE and we did not want to stop driving it.

The Accent is an amazing car with some incredible numbers.  The best number about the Accent is the price.  You can buy a 2012 Accent for $12,545.  That is an incredible price for a well-equipped car that comes with so many features. 

If that wasn’t enough it also comes with a fantastic warranty that includes 10 year or 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, 5 year/60,000 general warranty, 7 year rust warranty, 5 year/unlimited mileage 24 hour roadside assistance and 8 year/80,000 mile emissions warranty.  Even premium cars costing $100,000 do not come with warranties that good let alone a $12,000 car.

Hyundai Accent SE interior
The best part about the Accent is that while it may be affordable, it is a very good car at the same time.  Get inside and you will be greeted with a very nice interior made of quality materials.  Everything is simple and you can get in and drive and figure out how to control everything.  Because the Accent rides on a 2.8 inches longer wheelbase than the previous Accent interior room has grown. 

Hyundai claims that the Accent five-door has best-in-class cargo volume and more cargo capacity than the Nissan Juke and Infiniti EX 35 crossover.  They also say that the Accent has best-in-class front and rear shoulder room and the five-door also has more cargo volume than many of its compact five-door competitors.  Hyundai even has a comparison chart showing that the 8.2 cubic feet glove box in the Accent is bigger than the competition by a great margin.

Mechanically, the Accent uses technology to be one of the best in its class.  The first step toward confident driving dynamics is a rigid structure.  To this end, the 2012 Accent employs high-tensile strength steel to deliver a strong, light and stiff body which is 22 percent stiffer than the previous generation.  Increasing the stiffness of the structure allowed Hyundai engineers more flexibility in terms of suspension tuning. 

The end result is a better balance between handling precision and ride comfort.  Accent employs a MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and twin-tube gas shock absorbers.  The rear suspension is a torsion axle setup with coil springs and monotube shock absorbers.  While the Accent is not a sports car, it handles very well and is even fun to drive on a twisty road.  Driving such cars usually means putting up with an uncomfortable ride but the Accent is as smooth and quiet as a luxury car.

Hyundai Accent SE dash
The 2012 Accent’s all-aluminum 1.6-liter Gamma four-cylinder engine utilizes the latest engine technology to deliver a class-leading 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque and a best-in-class standard 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway fuel economy rating.  The engine’s most notable feature is its use of direct injection, a first for the subcompact category.  By precisely controlling the injection of fuel, direct injection allows for better fuel economy, increased power and reduced emissions.  The application of Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT) on both intake and exhaust camshafts allows for increased efficiency, improved fuel economy and reduced emissions. 

Other elements resulting in reduced fuel consumption include an Alternator Management System, an offset crankshaft design, variable induction system and electronic throttle control.
The Gamma 1.6 liter engine coupled with the smooth six speed manual transmission in our car resulted in a car that could easily keep up with traffic and never felt short of breath.  The engine was smooth and quiet and the linear powerband meant that the car felt quick.  Shifting the manual transmission made driving that much more fun and with its low effort linkage, shifting was never a chore.

The Accent is rated at 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.  We could not get close to the 40 mpg mark and managed to average around 33 mpg during mixed driving.  If you want to achieve 40 mpg, you need to realize that you have to drive with a light pedal and not exceed 55 mph.
For a car that is cheap to buy and super cheap to maintain, the Hyundai is an amazing deal.  It looks good and has plenty of space for a family and can drive them around for years to come knowing that the fantastic Hyundai warranty has their back.

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