Hyundais smallest, least costly model is getting minor revisions for 2004 after receiving a major face-lift for the 2003 model year. Last years changes included reworked styling for the hood, fenders, headlights, fascias and taillights. The base model got the 1.6-liter dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine that had previously been limited to the GT and GL editions. All Accents are now equipped with that 103-horsepower engine.
The front-wheel-drive Accent is available as a three-door hatchback in base, GL and GT trim levels, as well as a four-door GL sedan. DaimlerChrysler holds a 10-percent stake in Hyundai, which in turn owns Kia. Hyundai and Kia rank as South Koreas largest and second largest auto manufacturers, respectively.
Differing in appearance from the econoboxes of the past, the Accent is largely made up of straight lines and edges with enough curves to attract interest. Mounted on a 96.1-inch wheelbase, the Accent is 166.7 inches long overall thats 8 inches shorter than the Honda Civic and slightly shorter than the Ford Focus sedan. GT models have 14-inch alloy wheels, a sport suspension, a rear spoiler and fog lamps.
The Accent is capable of seating five people on its two front buckets and rear bench seat, but the cars limited legroom and narrow interior make four passengers the practical limit. Cargo volume is 11.8 cubic feet for the sedan and 16.9 cubic feet for the hatchback; both body styles have a folding rear seatback that expands cargo capacity. Standard equipment includes a cassette player and a rear-window defroster. Air conditioning is standard in GL models. The GT hatchbacks have white-faced gauges.
Under the Hood
All Accent models use a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 103 hp. A five-speed-manual gearbox is standard, and a four-speed-automatic transmission is optional.
Side-impact airbags are standard, but antilock brakes are not available.
Unlike the small vehicles of Hyundais past, the Accent qualifies as one of the better small cars on the market. But the compact-car market isnt exactly overloaded these days. Despite some drawbacks, a lengthy powertrain warranty makes the Accent a good value; gas mileage is another big benefit.
The Accent is easy to drive. Its steering isnt as crisp as that in some other compact cars, but it maneuvers competently. A hatchback model with an automatic transmission turned out to be enjoyable, practical and fairly comfortable. This car is rather cute, and it also appears to be well built. Front-seat space is abundant, but backseat riders will be more cramped because theres only a fair amount of legroom. Getting into the backseat isnt easy.
Despite some light choppiness, the ride is generally pleasant. The Accent almost glides over rough spots, even if its suspension fails to absorb much harshness. Ample glass translates to fine visibility. When accelerating hard in lower gears, the engine delivers a loud blare, but its quieter while cruising. The manually shifted Accent is more spirited, but an automatic-transmission model has to struggle to trudge up steep grades. Passing and merging with the automatic may produce more noise than action, so a bit of discretion is wise before darting out into traffic.