2011 Hyundai Accent Review and Prices

Last Updated: Mar 3, 2011

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2011 Hyundai Accent Buying Advice

The 2011 Hyundai Accent is the best car for you if you’re interested in a subcompact that happily sacrifices design sophisticated for a low purchase price, high fuel economy, and a whopper of a warranty.   

Aside from some minor equipment juggling, the 2011 Hyundai Accent is basically carryover from the 2010 Accent as Hyundai prepares for big changes to its smallest car for model-year 2012. The 2011 Hyundai Accent returns as a subcompact hatchback and sedan that sell on value for the money. And sell well they do: Accent vies with the Honda Fit for title of America’s top-selling subcompact car. Demand has slowed slightly following conclusion of the Cash for Clunkers program and end of the South Korean carmaker’s offer to allow recession-worried buyers to return their Hyundai if they lost their job. But Hyundai hopes to renew interest with fully redesigned 2012 Accent.

Should you buy a 2011 Hyundai Accent or wait for the 2012 Hyundai Accent? If you absolutely need bargain-basement transportation right now and care little for performance or the latest look, consider a 2011 Accent Close-out deals should be attractive. Wait for the 2012 Accent if you want your Hyundai value packaged as a boldly styled next-generation subcompact that should be roomier than today’s Accent and have better road manners, to boot.

2011 Hyundai Accent Changes back to top

Styling: 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.    

Mechanical: 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.

Features: 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.

2011 Hyundai Accent Prices back to top

The 2011 Hyundai Accent base-price range is $10,705-$16,865. (All base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee; Hyundai’s fee for the 2011 Accent is $720.

Leaving the destination fee to the fine print allows Hyundai to advertise the 2011 Accent GL hatchback with a starting price of $9,985. But even at $10,705, it’s still one of the lowest priced new cars sold in the U.S. Note that its limited to the manual transmission; you have to move up the model line if you want an automatic.

The 2011 Hyundai Accent GS hatchback starts at $13,415 with manual transmission and $14,415 with automatic. However, Hyundai requires that manual-transmission GS models be equipped with a mandatory $900 option package that includes ABS, power windows, locks, and mirrors, and remote keyless entry.

The 2011 Hyundai Accent GLS sedan is priced from $14,415 with manual transmission and from $15,415 with automatic. Similar to the requirement imposed on manual-transmission GS models, stick-shift GLS sedans must be ordered with a $1,050 option package that includes ABS, power windows, locks, and mirrors, and remote keyless entry, plus a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, and steering-wheel mounted audio controls.

Because the power sunroof is no longer available, the 2011 Hyundai Accent SE hatchback, at $16,065 with manual transmission and $16,865 with automatic, are priced $850 lower than the 2010 equivalent models.

Part of any Hyundai’s value proposition is a warranty the carmaker bills as America’s best. Coverage includes 5-years/60,000-miles bumper-to-bumper and 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain. In addition, Accent buyers receive 24-hour roadside assistance at no extra charge for 5-years/unlimited mileage; the service includes emergency towing and lockout service. There is no deductible on any of this coverage. However, only the original purchaser gets the full 10/100,000 powertrain coverage. Hyundai’s powertrain warranty for any subsequent owner reverts to 5/60,000 from the date the vehicle was manufactured.

2011 Hyundai Accent Fuel Economy back to top

Fuel-economy ratings for the 2011 Hyundai Accent are unchanged from 2010 levels. The 2011 Accent GL sedan is rated at 28/34 mpg city/highway with its mandatory manual transmission.

Fuel-economy ratings for all other 2011 Hyundai Accent models are 28/34 mpg with manual transmission and 27/36 with automatic.

2011 Hyundai Accent Release Date back to top

The 2011 Hyundai Accent went on sale in July 2010.

What's next for the 2011 Hyundai Accent back to top

The 2011 Hyundai Accent sedan’s design dates to model-year 2006; the hatchback version debuted for model-year 2007. Both will be redesigned for model-year 2012, getting an all-new chassis, a more advanced powertrain, and certainly receiving all-new styling.

Reports suggest the 2012 Accent will be based on the recently unveiled Hyundai Verna small car, which is sold in South Korea. The 2012 Accent’s basic size and chassis layout will be similar to the outgoing car’s. Ride and handling should improve, but independent rear suspension is unlikely, given cost considerations. Front-wheel drive will be retained, and so will a four-cylinder engine.

Early speculation had the 2012 Accent getting a new 1.6-liter four-cylinder with some 120 horsepower. But cost considerations make it more likely it’ll use a 1.4-liter with about 105 horsepower. Still, fuel economy should be even better than today’s model gets; expect at least 40 mpg on the highway. A manual transmission with more than five speeds is a possibility, as is an automatic with more than four. Less likely is the sort of sporty, dual-clutch manual you’ll see taking the place of a conventional automatic transmission in some rival subcompacts.

Hyundai also has pledged to move aggressively into gas-electric hybrid power. A hybrid version of the midsize Sonata sedan arrives for model-year 2012. Hyundai has confirmed plans to offer a plug-in hybrid for sale in the U.S. by late 2012, though it won’t say whether it’ll be part of a new car line or an existing one. A hybrid model based on the next-generation Accent is possible, but whether it would labeled an Accent model or sold as a unique car with its own bodywork remains to be seen.    

As for the 2012 Hyundai Accent’s styling, look to the redesigned 2011 Sonata for some idea of the riskier, swoopier sheet metal you’ll see on the redesigned subcompact. It’s part of a styling philosophy the South Korean has dubbed “Fluidic Sculpture.” Accent’s prime directive, however, will remain a roomy interior, so Hyundai isn’t apt to sacrifice space efficiency in the name of styling. The 2012 Accent probably will offer both a four-door hatchback and four-door sedan body style.

2011 Hyundai Accent Competition back to top

2011 Honda Fit: Trounces Accent for passenger and cargo space because it has what really amounts to a small-wagon body. Roomy rear seating folds into a low, flat load floor or tips back to open a tall, wide chamber. Genuinely sporty handling is on the docket, as well, though noise levels grow tiresome on long drives. Fuel economy is a frugal 27/33 mpg with manual transmission, 28/35 with automatic. Base price range is about $15,700-$19,900, and top-line versions are among the few subcompacts available with a navigation system. Fit should get minor styling changes for model-year 2012 and a full redesign for model-year 2014.

2011 Ford Fiesta: All-new for 2011 and a potential game-changer in the class. This is essentially Ford’s European-bred Fiesta brought virtually intact to the U.S. It offers four-door sedan and four-door hatchback body styles, both with youthful, futuristic styling inside and out. Rear seating is tight, acceleration average, but ride and handling are top-of-the-class and leather upholstery, sunroof, and Ford’s Microsoft-developed Sync infotainment system are available. Fuel economy is 29/38 mpg with manual transmission, 30/40 with Fiesta’s version of an automatic. Be prepared to pay a bit for this brio: base price range is around $14,000-$19,900.

2011 Mazda 2: This shares its underpinnings with the 2011 Fiesta but goes for a much sparer approach to features and an even sportier approach to driving. The 2 comes only as a four-door hatchback with the same space-challenged rear seat as Fiesta, but with a far less sexy body. It’s slightly less powerful than the Ford, but also lighter in weight, so road manners are just as lively. The automatic transmission is an old-fashioned four-speed, and fuel economy is an average for the class 28/34, or 28/35 with manual. But base price range is an attractive $14,730-$16,985.

Nissan Versa: Priced like a subcompact but boasts the interior space and ride, handling, and refinement of a very nice compact-sized car -- though there’s no escaping the slightly buzzy powertrain. Versa comes as a goofy-looking four-door sedan or a geek-chic four-door hatchback. Fuel economy spans 24/32-28/34 mpg, depending on model. A special stripper sedan priced below $11,000 rivals the Accent GL for lowest-priced U.S. car, but you’ll want to choose from among Versas that start the mid-$14,000s and reach almost $18,000. Versa is due a full redesign for model-year 2013.

UPDATED BY JAY KOBLENZ