Hyundai's least-expensive model receives a handful of new interior features, including an upgraded stereo, for 2008. Available in hatchback and sedan body styles, the Accent competes with economy cars like the Chevrolet Aveo, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris.
The Accent earned a substantial redesign for 2006. Now in its third generation, the compact car comes standard with six airbags — which strangely did not prevent last year's model from being rated Poor in side-impact crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
A 1.6-liter four-cylinder produces 110 horsepower. Power rack-and-pinion steering is standard. Sister company Kia sells the Rio, a car that shares many components with the Accent. Both models include a 10-year, 100,000-mile drivetrain warranty, one of the industry's longest.
Hyundai says the Accent's crisp modern lines, distinctive halogen headlights, and larger wheels and tires make this version more elegant than its predecessor. The base GS hatchback has black side mirrors and door handles; those parts are body-colored on the SE hatchback and GLS sedan.
GS and SE hatchbacks sport a fairly typical wedge shape, but with telltale Hyundai curves. Standard steel wheels hold 14-inch tires. The GLS sedan has optional 15-inch alloy wheels, while the SE hatchback has 16-inch alloys and a sport-tuned suspension.
Up to five occupants can fit inside the Accent, which has 1.5 inches more rear legroom than before. Front headroom is 0.7 inches greater as well. Cargo space totals 12.4 cubic feet in the sedan and 15.9 cubic feet in the hatchback. Every door panel contains a bottle holder and storage pockets.
For 2008, GLS and SE models have restyled gauges. Later in the year, the CD stereo in both cars will add an auxiliary jack for MP3 players, as well as XM Satellite Radio with three months' free service. The base GL hatchback doesn't have a CD player, so be prepared to warble your own tunes.
Standard equipment includes a tilt steering wheel and an eight-way driver's seat with an adjustable armrest. The GLS sedan and SE hatchback add air conditioning, front seatback pockets and dual vanity mirrors. A folding backseat armrest with cupholders is also included — a rare feature in this class. An available Convenience Package adds power windows, power door locks with keyless entry and heated power mirrors, items that are standard in the SE hatchback.
Under the Hood
The Accent's 110-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder features continuously variable valve timing and develops 107 pounds-feet of torque. Either a five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic can be installed. SE models with the manual have a sport shifter from B&M Racing.
Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags are standard across all trim levels. Front seat belt pretensioners and load limiters are installed, and all seating positions have adjustable head restraints. Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard on the SE hatchback. ABS is optional for the GLS sedan and unavailable in the GS hatchback.