Hyundai’s all-new Accent head-turning best buy

The all-new 2012 Hyundai Accent has arrived.

Before you flip the page, let me hit you with some numbers.

Base price starting at $12,445.

EPA fuel economy of 40 mpg highway, 30 mpg city.

Best in class standard safety features.

It comes with a long list of standard features.

And, it has the best in the business warranty.

Now that I have your attention, let me share my impressions after a week behind the wheel in what is one of the best head-turning value stories of the 2012 model year.

Available in sedan and hatchback body styles, the five-passenger, front-wheel drive subcompact is roomy on the inside, handles great on the road and the best part, it won’t break the budget to own or operate.

As I’ve said in previous columns, Hyundai is the fastest growing car company in the world. While a lot of the other manufacturers have taken a hit during the recession, Hyundai keeps turning out exceptional products that are well built, fun to drive and affordable.

When it comes to owner satisfaction and quality surveys, Hyundai consistently ranks near the top of every list — and that list includes the top luxury manufacturers.

Not only has Hyundai earned a reputation for quality, they continue to back it with the best warranty in the business.

The all-new Accent is the latest in a long list of Hyundai success stories.

While classified as a subcompact, I was amazed at how much room is inside the new Accent. It is slightly larger than the previous model, but you really notice the difference once inside the cabin.

I don’t want to paint a picture that it is comparable to a full-size sedan, but when comparing apples to apples in the subcompact segment, the Accent’s interior comfort will turn your head.

Powered by an all-new 1.6-liter GDI I-4 engine, the Accent delivers best in class horsepower and torque, in addition to best in class fuel economy.

When you drive a car that gets 30 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway, you get to put a lot more money in your wallet instead of forking it over at the pump.

And when it comes to standard safety equipment, let me add a statement from Hyundai: “Hyundai doesn’t believe consumers should have to pay a premium for safety, so a long list of safety features is included as standard equipment on all 2012 Accent models.”

The Accent includes six standard airbags, front-seat active head restraints, electronic stability control, traction control, vehicle stability management, anti-lock brakes featuring electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, to name just a few items on that list.

The same holds true for comfort and convenience features, which include trip computer, cabin air filter, power door locks, four speaker audio system, tilt steering column, dual vanity mirrors, intermittent wipers and tinted glass, to name but a few on the entry-level GLS model.

GS models add air conditioning, premium audio system with Satellite Radio, and power windows/mirrors/door locks with remote keyless entry. The top of the line SE adds everything but the kitchen sink.

I highly recommend the Accent for a test drive.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

MODEL:

2012 Hyundai Accent

5-seat subcompact sedan/hatchback 

Front-wheel drive

Trim packages:

GLS, GS, SE

PRICE RANGE:

$13,000-$17,000

ENGINE:

1.6-L I4 (138 hp/123 torque)

TRANSMISSION:

6-speed manual

6-speed auto w/Shiftronic

EPA: 30 mpg city, 40 mpg highway

FUEL: Regular unleaded

TRACTION CONTROL:

Vehicle stability management with electronic stability control and traction control

BRAKES: ABS with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist

LENGTH: 162/172 inches*

WHEELBASE: 101.2 inches

WIDTH: 66.9 inches

HEIGHT: 57.1 inches

WEIGHT: 2396-2654 lbs.

TRACK: 59.3/59.5

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 11.4 gallons

TIRES: 14-, or 16-inch

CARGO: 13.7 cubic feet (sedan) 21.2/47.5 cubic feet (behind 2nd/1st row — hatch)