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2012 Hyundai Accent SE wins in all ways but one

The 2012 Hyundai Accent SE is surprisingly fun to drive and offers a respectable level of cabin technology.

Hyundai Accent SE
On a foggy mountain road, the Accent SE surprised us with its zippy performance. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

There once was a time when the most noteworthy thing about Hyundai's entry-level hatchback was that its $9,970 price tag made it quite literally the cheapest car in America. However, the 2012 Hyundai Accent SE that showed up in the Car Tech garage last week was anything but cheap.

Weighing in at an as-tested MSRP of $16,590, the Accent has grown quite a bit in price, but it has also grown in nearly every other metric. The new hatchback is larger, more comfortable, and of much higher quality than its predecessor. It's also much more fun to drive, as we learned on one of our favorite mountain roads one foggy afternoon.

Yes, the new Accent is firing on all cylinders and is able to go toe-to-toe with even the mighty Honda Fit Sport and Ford Fiesta. Except there's one slight hiccup: Hyundai's navigation is not available at any trim level. This omission costs Hyundai's hatchback dearly in our cabin comfort (or technology) category and keeps it from achieving top marks.

That said, we know that there are more than a few of you who don't care about navigation for a variety of reasons--whether it's a love for a smartphone navigation app or PND, an unhealthy obsession with paper maps, or an impeccable sense of direction--so be sure to check out the full review of the 2012 Hyundai Accent SE.