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2012 Hyundai Accent: Practical, but Mediocre

The 2012 Hyundai Accent is attractive, but nearly everything else about it is average.

Since its redesign for 2012, the Hyundai Accent has leapt from the bottom of the affordable small car class to the top 10. But after test driving the new Accent, I won’t be surprised if that ranking doesn’t last for very long because the Accent is immensely practical, but mediocre in nearly every other way.

There were a lot of little things about the Accent that bugged me. The base GLS model I drove had audio controls on the steering wheel, but didn’t allow you to scan for a radio station. I could only sift through the pre-saved stations. I also had to use the key or a lever on the floor by the driver’s seat to pop the trunk. I really wanted a power-release function on the key fob. It would have helped when I lugged four loads of clothes home from the laundromat. My test Accent had gray seats with modern pattern. They seem inoffensive at first, but as an adult who would buy a small car, the upholstery eventually felt too immature.

Concerning practical matters like features, fuel economy and cargo space, the Accent is sufficient. The trunk was large enough to swallow the tall, wheeled laundry bucket I stuffed inside. The Accent GLS also has most audio features shoppers want: satellite radio and USB and auxiliary ports.

The Accent’s price, however, seemed high. The GLS stickered at about $16,600, after adding options like a USB port and Bluetooth. At that price, I’d rather buy a Honda Fit, even though it has worse fuel economy ratings. For me, the Fit’s similar price and heaps of interior and cargo space in comparison with the Accent compensates for its less-efficient powertrain. 

If anything, the Accent’s exterior styling saves it from being average enough to write off. It’s undeniably cute and looks like a smaller sibling to compact and midsize cars like the Hyundai Elantra and Sonata. While the Accent is attractive, there are a lot of small cars that are more attractive. The Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and Kia Forte are all models I would cross-shop against the 2012 Hyundai Accent.

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