2007 Hyundai Accent Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
Sporty new coupes join subcompact line of sedans.
Hyundai vehicles have been dramatically improved over the past few years. The Hyundai Accent sedan was redesigned for 2006, and this past spring an attractive coupe joined the lineup, adding style, sophistication, and content than ever before.
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. Think of it as inexpensive canvas for the Fast & Furious.
This latest generation of Accents is built on a more substantial platform. They are slightly larger and are notably better cars than the previous generation. Hyundai is clearly moving up-market, and the Accent is a viable alternative to the recently introduced Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, and Nissan Versa subcompacts.
Power comes from a clean and sophisticated 1.6-liter double overhead-cam engine, featuring variable valve timing and delivering more power than the Chevrolet Aveo or Scion xA. The environmentally friendly Accent is an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle, or ULEV, and rates 37 mpg on the EPA Highway scale.
What's more, Accent delivers 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.
Based on our impressions, the Hyundai Accent should be considered alongside models from more established players. 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 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.
For 2007, the Hyundai Accent is available in two body styles and three levels of trim. There's 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 ($1,000) is optional on all Accents.
The base GS coupe ($10,415) 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 intermittent windshield wipers, rear-window defroster, power steering, and P175/70TR14 tires on steel wheels.
Air conditioning is not standard, but it is part of a Preferred Package ($1,350) that also includes a 172-watt AM/FM/CD stereo. A Premium Package ($1,750) combines the Preferred Package with power windows, power heated body-color mirrors, power door locks with remote keyless entry, body-color door handles, and an alarm with panic feature.
The GLS sedan ($12,565) makes air conditioning and the 172-watt stereo standard, along with illuminated vanity mirrors; and rides on 185/65HR14 tires on 14-inch steel wheels. The sedan's Premium 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 Sport Package ($1,350) combines all of the above with 195/55VR15 tires on 15-inch aluminum wheels.
The SE coupe ($13,915) comes with a sport-tuned suspension, ABS with EBD, 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, front door bottle holders, illuminated vanity mirrors, and windshield shade band. A Sun and Sound Package ($1,250) for the SE combines a sunroof with a 220-watt Kenwood AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio.
Accessories include a front strut tower brace, cold air intake, and B&M Racing shifter; silver-faced gauges, aluminum door sills, blue or gray leather-wrapped steering wheel, carbon-fiber B-pillar appliques, LED interior lighting, ground effects, and a light 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.
This latest Hyundai Accent looks more elegant than the previous-generation model did. It starts at the front with integrated 5-mph bumpers and large aerodynamic headlight enclosures that wrap around the front fenders. It has a high roofline defined on either side by black rubber rain gutters, while the windshield blends into the front of the roof without any visible trim. A bold character line originates just behind the front wheel opening and slashes boldly across the doors, fading again just short of the taillights.
The back of the sedan roof sweeps toward the trailing edge of the trunk lid, giving it almost a coupe-like appearance. Unlike many modern cars, Accent has a generous greenhouse with big windows; blacked-out trim both defines and unifies the side-window opening. This, coupled with a long wheelbase with relatively short overhangs, makes the sedan appear a tad bigger than it actually is.
Overall, the Accent has a pretty, if somewhat ordinary look to it that should not offend anyone. As part of Hyundai's plan, the Accent sedan is more buttoned-down conservative than the bolder Kia Rio, with which it shares its basic construction. We see a hint of Volvo in its nose and maybe a dash of Honda in its rear three-quarter view.
The Accent coupe has a look all its own, though it shares its front fenders and defining character line with the sedan. The differences begin with the bolder two-slot air opening that replaces the sedan's fine-lined horizontal grille and ends with a rounded tail that takes the tentative reverse curve at the base of the sedan's roof, boldly widens it, and fuses it with the horizontally curving quarter panel. The two-door Accent is unashamedly a hatchback, and makes no pretense to a separate trunk lid.
Not surprisingly, then, the coupe is as tall and wide as the sedan, and shares the sedan's 98.4-inch wheelbase, but at 159.3 inches overall it has shed a significant 9.2 inches of rear overhang. The result is one of the cutest little rears we've seen anywhere lately, and a short, sassy profile that looks like it should cost more than it does.
On both coupe and sedan, a roof-mounted micro-antenna is aerodynamic, flexible, and said to improve signal strength.
Perhaps more than anything it's the interior of the Hyundai Accent that has been improved over the pre-2006 models. For starters, there's a much better view out. The hip point in the driver's seat is two inches higher than in older Accents, giving the driver a better view of the road. The Accent cabin has a conservative two-tone interior color scheme reminiscent of larger cars, and it's trimmed out quite nicely, helping it avoid the feeling of an econobox.
The dashboard wraps around to the door panels and the center stack is nicely integrated, with large, well positioned climate control knobs. The big speedometer and tachometer are located in a nicely contoured instrument pod in front of the steering wheel. Smaller fuel and coolant temperature gauges are set inside, along with a small LCD readout for the odometer and trip meter as well as an indicator of the selected gear.
The seats are contoured and finished in a classy cloth material that feels high quality. The driver's seat is eight-way adjustable on all models.
We noticed several nice touches that kept our sedan from feeling like a cheap econobox. Among them: dampened grab handles, a thick roof lining, center folding front and rear armrests, a tilt steering wheel, a micro roof-mounted antenna, driver and passenger side-illuminated vanity mirrors, cabin air filtration, remote trunk and fuel cap releases, and a windshield shade band. There are decent size pockets with a cup holder in each door. In addition there are other storage places and a big glovebox.
The rear seat splits 60/40 for additional storage capacity. For better rearward visibility, the three rear-seat headrests slide down shingle-style into the seatback when not needed. A fold out center armrest with two cupholders is provided for rear-seat passengers.
Rear-seat leg room and headroom is not too bad unless the car is full of six-footers. Getting into the back seats is made easier by locating the rear wheels farther back, so the wheelwell does not intrude into the sedan's door opening as much.
Compared to the sedan, the coupe surrenders less than a half inch of hip room up front, and less than an inch in the rear; otherwise its passenger-comfort dimensions are identical to those of the sedan. Both models qualify as compact cars by government interior-volume standards, while the competing Toyota Yaris and Scion xA are classified as subcompacts.
Trunk volume in the sedan is a very respectable 12.4 cubic feet. Despite its shorter length, the hatchback coupe expands this to 15.9 cubic feet with the rear seats in place. Folding the back seats flat in either car greatly increases the total cargo volume and makes room for long and bulky items.
Nobody buying a Hyundai Accent will expect sizzling performance, yet the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is surprisingly snappy, even with the automatic transmission. An Accent GLS automatic has no problem keeping up with traffic as long as you stomp on the gas pedal, and it's more than happy cruising at speed on the freeway. We have not had a chance to check out an Accent with a manual transmission but expect it to be more fun to drive.
Hyundai's 1.6-liter four-cylinder is a modern, sophisticated engine with dual overhead camshafts and continuously variable valve timing. This DOHC/CVVT combination helps give the engine a broad power band with high fuel efficiency and low emissions.
EPA-estimated City/Highway fuel economy is 32/35 mpg with the manual, 28/36 mpg with the automatic. The engine produces 110 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 106 pound-feet of torque at 4500 rpm.
The sedan's ride is on the soft side, softer than the Kia Rio, which gets sportier settings. The power assisted rack-and-pinion steering provides reasonable feedback and the handling proved to be acceptable on some winding mountain roads near San Diego. Our GLS automatic had the optional 15-inch alloy wheels with the sportier P195/55VR15 tires. We did not try a base model with the skinny 14-inch tires and steel wheels, but suspect it would not handle as well.
Overall, the driving characteristics and performance make this a commuter car rather than a long distance cruiser.
The SE coupe is more stiffly sprung than the GS coupe or GLS sedan (by 24 percent up front and 11 percent in the rear). Its suspension struts are valved tighter, and its front anti-roll bar beefed up to 24 mm, vs. the 21 mm bar on the GS/GLS. And the SE's V-rated tires have stiffer sidewalls and wider treads, which makes for a firmer ride.
The steering ratio is the same (15.5:1) in all three models, but Hyundai says all three racks are tuned differently for different levels of sporty feel, while the SE's suspension upgrades make it 70 percent more resistant to body roll so it leans less in corners than the other models.
Braking systems differ as well. The coupes come with 10.1-inch ventilated discs all around, but the SE adds four-channel, four-sensor ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD); this feature isn't even offered as an option on the GS coupe. The sedan makes do with solid rear discs, with ABS/EBD as an option. The sedan we drove seemed to stop efficiently. It was equipped with the optional ABS, which allows the driver to maintain steering control in an emergency braking situation by preventing wheel lockup. EBD improves stability in hard braking situations by balancing brake force front to rear.
The Hyundai Accent is a competent subcompact car that's big inside and sprightly underway. It includes an impressive array of standard safety features and is certainly worthy of being considered alongside more expensive models from other manufacturers. The new hatchback coupe adds a strong dose of sporty styling, plus more cargo-hauling versatility, with no significant loss of passenger space.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent John Rettie filed this report from San Diego.
Hyundai Accent GS coupe ($10,415), automatic ($11,415); GLS sedan ($12,565), automatic ($13,565); SE coupe ($13,915), automatic ($14,915).
Ulsan, South Korea.
Options As Tested
Premium Sport Package ($1,350) includes ABS/EDB, power windows with driver's express-down, power mirrors, power door locks, remote keyless entry, alarm with panic alert, 195/55 VR15 tires on 15-inch aluminum wheels.
Hyundai Accent GLS automatic ($13,565).
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