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#15

in 2012 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $11,247 - $12,194
Original MSRP: $12,545 - $16,895
MPG: 28 City / 37 Hwy
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2012 Hyundai Accent Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2012 Hyundai Accent’s 1.6-liter engine produces 138 horsepower, the highest figure in the class, but many test drivers think the Accent doesn’t drive like it has an extra pep in its step. They’re slightly disappointed with this realization, but appreciate that the Accent’s gears shift smoothly and that it has the highest non-hybrid fuel economy ratings of 30/40 mpg city/highway.

  • "Highway wind and road noise seem well controlled, and the engine is loud only at high rpm under brisk acceleration." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Given the Accent's focus on fuel economy, we expected a somewhat limp driving experience, and while this isn't the sportiest vehicle in the segment (hello, Mazda), we weren't disappointed by the hatchback's acceleration, handling or on-road manners." -- Autoblog
  • "Though it has the best power-to-weight ratio in the class, Accent doesn't feel particularly lively or exciting, an effect heightened by the feeling that you're in a vanilla compact rather than a zippy subcompact." -- Popular Mechanics

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Accent’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which can be paired with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, makes 138 horsepower, 123 pound-feet of torque and gets an EPA-estimated 30/40 mpg city/highway, regardless of trim or transmission selection. Those specifications make the Accent the most powerful and fuel-efficient non-hybrid in the class, but the automotive press says the Accent’s engine doesn’t have as much oomph as they expected.

The gears transition smoothly on both the automatic and manual transmissions, and the Accent has enough power off the line, but it’s sluggish in passing maneuvers. These critiques demote the Accent from fun to drive, like the Honda Fit and Mazda2, to city cruiser.

  • "In the times of 500-plus-horsepower supercars, the 2012 Hyundai Accent's 138-hp output might sound paltry. Yet this sophisticated direct-injection four-cylinder pulls significantly stronger than the power plants of its major competitors. Both the six-speed manual and the six-speed automatic transmissions make good use of that output, too." -- Edmunds 
  • "The environment behind the wheel is quiet and stable without the jitteriness of most short-wheelbase subcompacts, and the six-speed manual transmission of our tester was easy to row. The clutch is a bit light and vague, but it provides a progressive release that makes for an easy commuter." -- Autoblog
  • "Accent offers adequate acceleration off the line but only modest highway passing response. The transmission downshifts fairly quickly for more power, but frequently hunts between gears on hilly terrain." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The new Accent might just be the quietest B car on smooth highways, with little wind or road noise. The new six-speed automatic certainly has a lot to do with this, as the car will cruise in top gear at 65 mph while turning about 2200 rpm. ... Stick your boot into it to get there as soon as possible, though, and the engine whines in protest with plenty of vibration transmitting through the driver's floorboard." -- Motor Trend
  • "While the Accent has more power than others in the class, I wouldn't call it fleet of foot. When accelerating from a dead stop, the Accent strained, as do most in this class, and I was ferrying two other average-size adults in the car. It struggled even more up hills, but on the highway it passed with plenty of assurance." -- Cars.com

Handling and Braking

The 2012 Hyundai Accent is a comfortable, quiet commuter vehicle, but the automotive press is quick to state that it’s not sporty around corners like the Mazda2. More than one reviewer said that during test drives, the Accent strays from the driver’s intended course, and must be corrected frequently.

  • "On the road, the Accent provides both a comfortable ride and decent handling. What it lacks in sporty steering and suspension settings, it compensates for with balance and composure - criteria likely more important to buyers shopping this segment." -- Edmunds
  • "Road noise is also exceptionally quiet. My test route on the roads around Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam was made up of mostly fresh or smooth blacktop, but even over the rare concrete highway segments I encountered, it was easy to hold a conversation." -- Cars.com
  • "The sporty SE model displays a modicum of body lean in fast turns, and steering feel isn't sports-car sharp. Still, it feels nimble enough to be mildly entertaining to drive." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "My short test drive was also lacking in curves, but I did like the Accent's comfortable ride, and it felt stable and secure in broad, sweeping turns. But I was disappointed with the steering - I thought it lacked good feel on-center and it wandered quite a bit on the highway, requiring constant correction." -- About.com
  • "Driver's Grievance: The electric-assist steering feels like it's not tuned properly, so making tiny corrections takes too much effort and the driver overshoots the mark, requiring a countercorrection. It's a small annoyance and might be something you could cure by inflating the tires differently than Hyundai does, though perhaps at the cost of falling back below 40 mpg." -- Popular Mechanics

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