Roadshow Video Reviews
2012 Hyundai Accent SEHyundai's basic car gets a face-lift.
The Accent, it's the first rung on the Hyundai ladder competing with the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa; not an easy room. So is this where Hyundai's recent ascendancy is gonna flatten out? Let's drive the 2012 Hyundai Accent SE and check the tech. Used to be a drove-a-car-like-an-Accent because you are either coming off a pricey degree program, a personal bankruptcy or a nasty divorce? But this kind of car has moved from the must-drive to the must-drive category. But along the road to becoming a nice car, the Accent also picked up a nasty habit, 3400 of them in fact added to the MSRP. It has to earn that. Okay, now, Hyundai Accent has the accents on the word simple, which isn't in the name but it should be because there's not a lot in this car, not a lot that you can get. Here is the head unit. We're in an SE so we have a fairly good array of sources. First of all, that little screen which obviously is monochrome is also non-touch. Your controller interface is this knob here. You rotate and push to select. It's just that simple. Now the stuff you control with that is pretty simple. You've got your optical slot up here, your CD, AM and FM radion. No HD radio non this guy. Satellite radio is XM although nowadays that's Sirius XM but Hyundai still calls it XM. Under CD Aux, you've got a couple of choices. You've got the CD drive I just showed you and the Aux jack is this one down here, which is the classic Hyundai-Kia. Well, you've got an Aux, a USB and combined together with their cable, it also becomes a iPod jack. Now with my iPod Touch plugged in, let's see how the interface works. It's a little spare, a little compact. Nice quick response by the way. As I go through tracks, I don't lose it. It stays right with me. These are little things you live with everyday in a basic car that'll drive you nuts if they don't work, and they basically work here. The audio system sounds like crap. It doesn't sound good. You're gonna wanna go and do a little bit of upgrading on this vehicle when you buy it and get some better speakers, go to Crutchfield or somewhere and find some better add-on amps or processors to bring this up. Keep the head unit; it's fine, but do something better on the output side would be my advice. That won't cost you much. We do not have Bluetooth, A2DP stereo streaming here, not on the Accent. This is the bottom car. They gotta save something for the better rides. We do have power base though which just kind of sounds badly thunderous, not elegant. Why lift it off? Speaking of interface, we do have steering wheel controls. I believe that's an SE trim thing. So you've got your volume and media controls for Mode, Seek, Track up and down. Your cruise control here on the right. Your voice command that is for the phone system only, not for driving, media or navigation since there isn't any. And then your handsfree buttons are over here. As I mentioned, no navigation, I mean no navigation. You can't option it. You wanna option navigation on this, it's gonna involve a suction cup or it's gonna involve juggling your smartphone. That's how you option navigation in Accent. Overall, the materials on this car are good, kind of a rubbery, hard plastic there, a different hard plastic over here, good stuff on the wheel. Nothing smells stinky, which I can't say about all cars that are inexpensive. No leather available in this car, which is just fine by me. Oh, and above the seats, no moonroof, not even optional. That's unusual especially in the high-trim model which this is on the Accent line, but no matter what you do, it's always a tin top. Now our gear shift here, as you can see, is a manual 6-speed. This is your stock gearbox on an Accent. Spend a thousand more and you get a 6-speed automatic which in my experience is gonna be a well-functioning gearbox that also brings in some new logic, what they called active echo so the car can then take part in making you drive as less of a lead foot. But obviously with the manual, there's kind of no place for that logic, so that feature doesn't get rolled in with this transmission. This new Accent for 2012 is dramatically better-looking than the little dough ball it replaces. And more than one person walked up to me and said, "Oh, so that's the new Ford Fiesta." "No, it's a Hyundai." For what it's worth, Ford got there first if you're wondering who kind of inspired whom. And the engine of this guy is nothing too remarkable but kinda high-powered for its class. In line 4, 1.6 liter front-wheel drive setting aside [unk] 1000 pounds before, 138 horsepower, 123 foot-pounds of torque. That's kind of on the burly side for this class of cars. 0 to 60 is about in the low 9's, 9.2 seconds according to most test ride around there while delivering 30/40 MPG. Now note that the next car up, the Hyundai Elantra, which is substantially nicer than this one also get 30/40. So you're not buying this car to get the better MPG in the line. You're buying it to get the lower MSRP. Oh, it is direct injection, which is kind of impressive for a low-cost car with a low-displacement engine. Now the Accent is a simple car in its underpinnings, its power plants, its everything. All this car has to do is be civilized and it's a win in this price class. And it's more than that, it's actually quite smooth. There's no nasty engine vibration which is more than I can say for some other cars in its class where you feel the engine gnashing its teeth when you step on it to merge or pass. The handling is wallowy. Most importantly, this car does the everyday stuff right. It's as responsive as it can be for the limited amount of power it has. It's smooth and non-fatiguing and doesn't feel like it's gonna be coming up [unk]. Okay, let's price this 2012 Hyundai Accent. Now the Accent is on cheap, $16,500 for this guy delivered and this is the top trim, the SE. You still got the GS below this and the GLS below that. The GLS, by the way, is only available as an ungainly-looking sedan; doesn't work for me. This and the model below it are only available as Hatchbacks. Now your options on this SE are pretty simple, 1000 bucks for the automatic with the echo drive mode, take it or leave it, and 35 bucks for an iPod cable. That's it.