Monday, May 16, 2011

2011 Hyundai Accent Review

Hyundai Accent

Hyundai Accent
Hyundai Accent

 The 2011 Hyundai Accent is a visual repeat of the 2010 Accent. A product of the jelly-bean school of design, styling hasn’t been an Accent selling point and isn’t for 2011. Two body styles return: a two-door hatchback and a four-door sedan. Both feel reassuringly solid but neither is particularly svelte. The hatchback continues in three levels of trim: base GL, midline GS, and top-line SE. The sedan is built on the same chassis but has a body some 9 inches longer than the hatchback’s. It remains available for 2011 in GLS trim only.
Dimensionally, the 2011 Accent is roughly mid-pack in the subcompact segment, which is a size-class down from the compact category that includes such cars as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Hyundai Elantra. The Accent sedan accounts for just under half of Accent sales. Both body styles have adequate front-seat space but squeeze rear passengers for leg room and, in the hatchback, for head clearance. Newer rivals, such as the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa are among the few subcompacts with rear seating that could be described as adult-friendly. The Accent’s basic structure is also used by Hyundai-owned Kia for its subcompact Rio sedan and hatchback. The Kia Rio shares Accent’s mechanical design, too, though its hatchback has four doors versus two for the Accent.    
The 2011 Hyundai Accent engineering emphasizes low cost and high mileage at the expense of driving excitement. Like every other subcompact, Accent has front-wheel drive that places the weight of the engine over the wheels that also propel the car. This enhances slippery-surface traction and concentrates mechanical components in the front of the car, leaving the balance of the body for passengers and cargo.
The 2011 Accent continues with a 1.8-liter four cylinder as its sole engine. This is a modern four-valve-per-cylinder, dual-overhead-cam design, and its 110 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque is roughly the median among subcompacts. Nonetheless, Accent is pretty slow by any standard, and doesn’t isolate well from mechanical buzzes or road noise. Transmission choices are a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. A few rivals offer six-speed manuals and five-speed automatics, which typically translate into better fuel-efficiency. Still, Accent is among the most fuel-efficient five-passenger cars on sale in the U.S. with all models rated at 30 mpg overall by the EPA. Hyundai pays close attention to aerodynamics and reduces powertrain waste through such measures as variable valve timing and a low-demand alternator. It even specifies low-rolling-resistance tires for all models.
Like most subcompacts, Accents have a torsion-beam rear axle, a prosaic design not known for high standards of ride and handling. Indeed, Accent cringes at fast cornering, its body leaning early, its small, 14-inch tires squealing often. The SE hatchback has what Hyundai terms a “sport tuned” suspension and, in combination with its wider 16-inch tires, better tolerates aggressive driving even if it doesn’t relish it.
The 2011 Hyundai Accent continues with an array of features that qualifies it an attractive value. The Accent GS hatchback gets an audio upgrade for 2011 with a newly standard 172-watt system with six speakers and both USB and auxiliary input jacks for iPod and MP3 connectivity. Meanwhile, the SE hatchback loses its standard power sunroof, a move that cuts $850 from its base price.
Hyundai could have made the 2011 Accent a better proposition if it addressed the availability of a key safety item. An antilock braking system (ABS), which helps maintain control in emergency stops, is standard only on the 2011 SE hatchback. ABS remains optional on the 2011 Accent GS hatchback and GLS sedan, and unavailable altogether on the Accent GL hatchback. Top rivals include ABS as standard on every model, and Toyota equips its Yaris subcompact with the added safety margin of an antiskid system to combat sideways slides. Hyundai’s should also give Accent GL owners the safety advantage of a clear hatch window via a rear wiper/washer but one is not available. All Accents have a rear defroster, but on the 2011 model, the rear wiper/washer is limited to GS and SE versions.
Otherwise, the 2011 Accent plays well on the showroom floor, with a relatively generous list of comfort and convenience features for the money. All models come with a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a split fold-down rear seatback, and all but the GL have a tilt steering wheel. Standard on the SE and optional other Accents -- except the GL -- are remote keyless entry and power windows and locks. GL-model drivers are the only Accent owners who’ve had to pay extra for air conditioning. The entry-level Accent GL sedan isn’t available with a factory-installed radio as a standard feature or an option. Your dealer can easily install one for whatever price the market will bear. Cruise control and steering-wheel audio controls are standard on the SE hatchback and available on the GLS sedan. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and metallic-look interior accents are exclusive SE-model standard features.

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