2012 Hyundai Accent Review and Prices

Last Updated: May 1, 2012

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2012 Hyundai Accent Buying Advice

The 2012 Hyundai Accent is the best car for you if want an all-new small sedan or hatchback that bursts into the upper echelon of the subcompact class with exceptional style, value, and fuel economy.

The 2012 Hyundai Accent is fully redesigned, shedding the egg-shaped anonymity of its model-year 2006-2011 predecessor for the swoops and curves that make Hyundai’s compact Elantra and midsize Sonata style leaders in their categories. Available as a four-door sedan and four-door hatchback, the 2012 Accent goes toe-to-toe with such subcompact standouts as the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta for roominess and beats them for standard power and – with ratings of 30/40 mpg city/highway – for fuel economy. Oh, and starting at just $13,320, the 2012 Accent is among the lowest-priced cars on sale in the U.S.

Should you buy a 2012 Hyundai Accent or wait for the 2013 Hyundai Accent? Buy a 2012 Accent. It kicks off styling and engineering that’ll be pacesetting for several years and aren’t likely to be rendered stale by any competitor on the near horizon.

2012 Hyundai Accent Changes back to top

Styling: The 2012 Hyundai Accent gets all-new styling with the same “Fluidic Sculpture” themes the South Korean automaker employed to set its redesigned 2011 Sonata and 2011 Elantra apart from the herd. Characterized by swept-back sheetmetal and raked body-side ridges, the look is unique, modern, and anything but reserved. It puts the 2012 Accent among the style leaders in a budget category where roominess and features have traditionally been more important than sporty looks.

The 2012 Accent returns a four-door sedan body style but replaces a two-door hatchback with a four-door hatchback. That matches the selection offered by the Ford Fiesta, the subcompact-class sales leader and means Accent is among the few in the category with more than one body style. The 2012 Accent is usefully larger than its 2006-2011 predecessors and now ranks among the biggest cars in the class in both interior and exterior dimensions. Though it remains priced and positioned as a subcompact, Hyundai notes that the Accent is now classified by the EPA as a compact car, based on interior volume.

Compared to the outgoing version, the 2012 Accent is about 3 inches longer overall and 2.8 inches longer in wheelbase. Wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear axles and key to a car’s passenger volume. Among subcompacts, only the Nissan Versa has a longer wheelbase.

The 2012 Accent also ranks amid class leaders for cargo space. The sedan has a 13.7-cubic-foot trunk and the hatchback has 21.2 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 47.5 with the rear seatbacks folded. By comparison, the Fiesta sedan has a 12.8-cubic-foot trunk and its hatchback has 15.4 cubic feet with the rear-seatbacks up and 26.0 cubic feet with them down.

Despite the relatively generous dimensions, Hyundai’s commitment to reducing mass means the 2012 Accent is 30-60 pounds lighter than comparable versions of its predecessor. Indeed, with curb weights ranging from 2,396-2,630 pounds for the sedan and 2,430-2,654 for the hatchback, this Hyundai is among the lightest new cars on the road. That holds benefits for fuel economy and, as Hyundai is proud to point out, results in a class-leading power to weight ratio.

The 2012 Accent lineup begins with the sedan in a single GLS level of trim. The hatchback is positioned upscale of the sedan and comes in GS and sporty SE models. Style differentiators are modest. The GLS sedan has black outside mirrors and door handles versus body-colored pieces. The hatchbacks have vertical taillamps to the sedan’s horizontal units. The SE gets fog lamps and a roof-mounted spoiler. The GLS sedan and GS hatchback have 14-inch steel wheels with wheel covers; 16-inch alloys are optional on the GLS and standard on the SE.

Mechanical: Like every other car in its competitive set, the 2012 Accent hews to subcompact convention with a four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive, and a rear torsion-beam suspension. It breaks from the crowd with a sophisticated new engine, a 1.6-liter that’s first in class with direct fuel injection. This state-of-the-art feature is more typically found in larger, costlier cars. By precisely distributing fuel directly into the cylinders, direct injection maximizes power and fuel economy and minimizes emissions. The engine is further enhanced with dual continuously variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust camshafts -- another advanced feature unusual in this class. Output is 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque.

No direct rival has more power, and among vehicles in the wider competitive set, only the Suzuki SX4 boasts higher output, with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 150 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. (Think of torque as the force behind acceleration, horsepower as the energy that sustains momentum.)

The 2012 Accent transmission selection also is in the subcompact forefront, with a choice of a manual and an automatic that both have six speeds. In transmissions, the greater the number of gear ratios the greater the opportunity for efficient power transfer and high fuel economy. Every direct competitor has a five-speed manual. Most have five-speed automatics and some still use a four-speed automatic, though the Fiesta employs a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Accent’s automatic-transmission has a floor shift lever that can be toggled to provide manual-type gear selection, another relatively rare feature in this class.

Standard on 2012 Accents equipped with the automatic transmission is a feature Hyundai claims improves fuel economy by as much as 7 percent. The company calls it ActiveEco. Turned on by a dashboard button, ActiveEco modulates throttle inputs by modifying engine and transmission behavior.  

Hyundai says the 2012 Accent is the first subcompact to come standard with four-wheel disc brakes; the class norm is rear drum brakes that are potentially less efficient than rear discs. The 2012 Accent is fully current with the latest dynamic safety tech. It includes as standard antilock brakes, traction control, and antiskid stability control to fight respectively wheel lock in emergency stops, tire slip on take-offs, and sideways slides in sudden turns. Every 2012 Accent also has electric power steering, which also is the modern standard and improves fuel economy by eliminating the strain of an engine-driven hydraulic system. Accent’s SE model gets a sportier steering calibration than the GLS and GS models.

Features: Accent is about value and there’s no change in that storyline for 2012. Hyundai has, however, evidently called a truce in its skirmish with Nissan to offer the lowest-priced new car in America. The company offered a stripper 2011 Accent two-door hatchback at under $11,000, including destination fee. The entry-level 2012 Accent, the GLS sedan, is still among America’s least expensive new cars, though it starts at $13,205, including destination.

For that you get a well-considered set of standard features, including all the aforementioned powertrain and technical advances, plus power door locks, a tilt steering wheel, and a height-adjustable driver’s seat with fold-down armrest. The GLS also comes with minor conveniences for which some entry-level rivals charge extra, such as dual vanity mirrors and map, dome, and cargo lights. A 60/40 split/folding rear seatback is standard on every 2012 Accent.

The manual-transmission Accent GLS is still a price-leader however, so getting such basic amenities as air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, or a radio requires the optional Comfort Package. Those features are standard on the automatic-transmission GLS, and to Hyundai’s credit, the radio includes separate tweeters and an auxiliary jack as well as a USB interface for iPods and other digital media. Most rivals don’t offer the USB interface on their base models.

Some competitors also reserve Bluetooth connectivity for the upper models in their subcompact lineups, but the hands-free mobile-phone link is available on the 2012 Accent GLS. To get it, you’ll need to spring for automatic transmission, however, and then for the optional Premium Package. The automatic transmission/Premium Package combination is also the only way to have a GLS with remote keyless entry and cruise control. It includes steering-wheel controls for the audio, cruise, and Bluetooth, too.

Moving up to the GS hatchback gets you virtually all of the aforementioned features as standard, though curiously, Bluetooth is not available on the 2012 Accent GS, even as an option. And cruise control is reserved for GSs with automatic transmission, where it’s standard.

As the top-of-the-line 2012 Accent, the SE hatchback dresses the part with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, premium cloth seats, and piano-black plastic cabin trim with chrome door handles. It includes all the GS standard features, plus Bluetooth and cruise control, regardless of transmission choice.

Beyond this fairly comprehensive roster of essentials sprinkled with a few perks, the 2012 Accent breaks no new ground in terms of available features. A sunroof can’t be had, and neither can a navigation system, though precious few rivals offer either feature. And Hyundai’s new subcompact certainly doesn’t challenge the Fiesta for premium touches such as available leather upholstery or heated front seats or for gizmos like remote engine start or Ford’s Microsoft-developed Sync hands-free infotainment system.  

2012 Hyundai Accent Prices back to top

Base-price range for the 2012 Hyundai Accent is $13,205-$17,555. Disregarding the $11,000 price-war edition of the 2011 Accent, this range represents a modest increase over comparable versions of the previous Accent and sustains the smallest Hyundai as a formidable value.    

The 2012 Hyundai Accent GLS four-door sedan starts at $13,320 with manual transmission and at $16,070 with automatic. (All base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee. Hyundai’s fee for the 2012 Accent is $775.) The Comfort Package option for the manual-transmission GLS is $1,750. The Premium Package adds $1,300 to the automatic-transmission GLS.

Base price for the 2012 Hyundai Accent GS four-door hatchback is $15,470 with manual transmission and $16,670 with automatic.

The 2012 Hyundai Accent SE hatchback is priced from $16,670 with manual transmission and from $17,760 with automatic.

Hyundai’s value picture includes the brand’s strong warranty coverage. It covers the 2012 Accent for 5-years/60,000-miles bumper-to-bumper and 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain.  Accent buyers also receive 24-hour roadside assistance at no extra charge for 5-years/unlimited mileage; the service includes emergency towing and lockout service. Note that the 10/100,000 powertrain warranty extends only to the original purchaser. Succeeding owners get 5/60,000 powertrain coverage from the date the vehicle was manufactured.

2012 Hyundai Accent Fuel Economy back to top

Hyundai pulls off a bit of a fuel-economy trick with the 2012 Accent by earning EPA ratings of 30/40 mpg city/highway with either the manual or automatic transmission. Those are admirable figures and among the highest in the class. That they apply with either transmission is a bonus.

A look at EPA ratings shows the subcompact class norm these days is roughly 26-29 mpg in city driving and 33-36 on the highway. At the time of the 2012 Accent’s introduction, the Ford Fiesta was the only direct competitor to match the 30/40-mpg ratings, and that was with an extra-cost SFE (Super Fuel Economy) option package.

2012 Hyundai Accent Release Date back to top

The 2012 Hyundai Accent goes on sale is spring 2011. Hyundai also owns the Kia brand, which sells a corporate cousin to the Accent called the Rio. An all-new 2012 Kia Rio is due out a few months after the 2012 Accent.

What's next for the 2012 Hyundai Accent back to top

Accent will need every advantage as recession-weary shoppers look to maximize their automotive spending and minimize fuel consumption. Indeed, it promises to take its place among the fresh new entries, such as the Fiesta, that have renewed interest in a class no longer viewed strictly as a budget destination but as a smart choice for people who don’t really need larger vehicles.

With the 2012 Hyundai Accent representing a redesign, further changes will come gradually. This South Koran carmaker is striving to become a more upscale brand. Indeed, its new-for-2011 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan is priced above $60,000.

However, the Accent model is an important key to getting young new-car buyers into the brand, and a low price point is crucial. But so is a sense of style, and that the 2012 Accent possesses. Hyundai will keep a close eye on the subcompact market to determine whether features such as leather upholstery become sales differentiators. It could add leather as a future Accent option more easily than it could a navigation system or even a power sunroof, both of which would require some component reconfiguring on a scale not usually done until a midcycle freshening, if then.

Bigger possibilities lie with alternative powertrains, including a gas-electric hybrid or a perhaps a sporty turbo engine. Both are long shots. What you see with the 2012 Accent is what you’ll get for several years to come.

2012 Hyundai Accent Competition back to top

Honda Fit: It’s still the segment leader for practical function and a top contender for driving fun but Fit has its hands full against the newest crop of rivals that include the Fiesta, Mazda 2, and the new Accent. An ace up this Honda’s sleeve is a surprisingly spacious rear seat that can be folded to create a variety of cargo holds. With 57.3 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity, Fit leads the class, though it trails the Accent hatchback for volume with the rear seatback up. Fit is a sporty handler, if a little noisy at highway speeds. The sole engine is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 117 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque. It’s an adequate performer though no star for fuel economy, rating 27/33/29 mpg city/highway/combined with the five-speed manual transmission and 28/35/31 with the five-speed automatic. Base-price range is $15,945-$20,310.

Ford Fiesta: New to Ford’s U.S. lineup for model-year 2011, this Euro-flavored sedan and hatchback shot to the top of the subcompact sales charts on the strength of cheeky styling and a kaleidoscope of Gen-Y temptations, including cabin mood lighting and the popular Sync system. Fiesta’s European-grade engineering pays off in terrifically stable control and good ride quality. The artsy cabin design is a bit over the top, the rear seat is cramped, and cargo room is mediocre even on the hatchback. The Fiesta debuted with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder as its only engine. At 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque it feels quick enough with the five-speed manual transmission but sluggish and ill-at-ease with the six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Fuel economy is good: 28/37/32 mpg with the manual, 29/38/33 with the automatic, and 29/40/33 with the $700 Super Fuel Economy option. Base-price range is $16,295-$18,295 for the 2012 Fiesta hatchback and $13,995-$17,395 for the sedan. A turbocharged version is reportedly in the wings. Note that a more sparely conceived version of the Fiesta hatchback is available as the Mazda 2. It’s a likeable little car that charms with elemental driving fun.

Nissan Versa: Among the few other subcompacts to offer a choice of four-door sedan and four-door hatchback body styles, Versa isn’t as stylish or hip as the Fit, Fiesta, or Accent but it is worth considering for its roomy comfort. Nissan’s in the process of revamping this lineup. It introduced a next-generation Versa sedan for model-year 2012, and should follow with a new hatchback as a 2012 or 2013 model. Neither appears to be a big leap forward in size or specification, and the sedan’s ho-hum styling is a step backward. Hope lies with the hatchback, which must rival the Accent’s for room and character if Versa is to remain among the top cars in the category. The 2012 sedan bowed with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder as its sole engine. It has an underwhelming 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque and uses a continuously variable automatic transmission to rate 30/38/33 mpg. The redesigned 2012 Versa hatchback has a 122-horsepower engine and rates a best 24/32/27 mpg. Base-price range is $11,770-$16,770 for the sedan, $15,350-$19,270 for the hatchback.