2012 Hyundai Accent Introduction

Hyundai Accent is all-new for 2012, and it's a winner. The 2012 Accent is roomier, comes with a more powerful engine, and is priced lower than comparably equipped models from the competition.

The 2012 Hyundai Accent comes in two body styles, a five-door hatchback and a four-door sedan with a conventional trunk. (A three-door hatchback is not available, so don't ask.)

The Accent is a subcompact sedan that competes against the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Mazda 2 and Nissan Versa. Completely redesigned, the 2012 Accent offers more room than the previous-generation model. According to the government, the 2012 Accent's interior volume puts it in the larger compact class.

The 2012 Accent is longer in wheelbase and overall length than most of the competition, which means more room inside for people and cargo, and a smoother ride.

We found the Accent very easy to drive. It's responsive but not quick, smooth by subcompact standards but not luxurious. Everything in the cabin is intuitive and easy to operate. It's an attractive design and the materials look nice.

The 2012 Accent looks sportier and more modern than last year's version. The 2012 Accent features Hyundai's new design theme shared with Sonata and Elantra models.

For 2012, the body was reshaped with more flowing lines and more sculpted sheetmetal. The 2012 Accent looks like a smaller version of the new Elantra. The Accent's new body shape carries a low coefficient of drag, 0.30, which helps with wind noise and fuel mileage. The designers chose to go with body color everywhere, from bumpers to mirrors to handles, with black accents and design elements, so there is almost no chrome trim on the new car beyond the grille bar. The new grille, hood, fenders, lamps, bumper and air intakes up front complement new body-colored door handles and mirrors, new taillamps, a mechanical liftgate, and new 14- and 16-inch wheels.

A new 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine powers the Accent, a twin-cam, 16-valve design with direct fuel injection, a first for the class, and variable valve timing to give it low-rpm torque, high-rpm horsepower. The engine is rated at 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. The new engine is 40 pounds lighter than the previous engine. Like the other cars in this class, the Accent uses front-wheel drive.

The 2012 Accent comes with a choice of 6-speed manual gearbox or 6-speed automatic. On manual-transmission models, there is an EcoShift indicator between the instrument pods to indicate the proper gear for all driving conditions. We liked the with the 6-speed manual but didn't care for the indicator as we think we know the proper gear better than the car does. The clutch pedal was light and easy to operate. The automatic features a Shiftronic manual-shifting mode, allowing the driver more control over shifting. We preferred to just put it in Drive and go.

Fuel economy is an EPA-rated 28/37 mpg City/Highway regardless of transmission choice. The manual gearbox gets a slightly better Combined rating of 32 mpg compared with the automatic's 31 mpg EPA Combined city and highway rating.

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