Hyundai’s smallest, least costly model got minor revisions for 2004 after receiving a major face-lift for the 2003 model year. The 2003 changes included reworked styling for the hood, fenders, headlights, fascias and taillights. Built in South Korea, the front-wheel-drive Accent was last redesigned for 2000.
Antilock brakes are newly optional on 2005 models. GLS and GT trim levels are available for the three-door hatchback, while the four-door sedan comes only in GLS form.
Riding on a 96.1-inch wheelbase, the Accent is 166.7 inches long overall � that’s more than 8 inches shorter than the compact Honda Civic and Ford Focus sedans. GT models have 14-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a rear spoiler and fog lamps.
All Accent models are capable of seating up to five occupants; however, the car’s 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 60/40-split folding rear seatback that expands cargo capacity. Standard equipment includes a cassette player and a rear-window defroster. Air conditioning is optional. GT hatchbacks have white-faced gauges and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The Accent uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that develops 104 horsepower. A five-speed-manual gearbox is standard, and a four-speed-automatic transmission is optional.
Side-impact airbags are standard, and antilock brakes are optional.
Unlike the small cars of Hyundai’s past, the Accent qualifies as one of today’s better examples. Despite some drawbacks, a lengthy powertrain warranty makes the Accent a good value. Good gas mileage is another benefit.
The Accent is easy to drive. Steering isn’t as crisp as that of some other subcompact cars, but the Accent maneuvers competently. Front-seat space is abundant, but backseat riders will be more cramped because there’s only a fair amount of legroom. Getting into the hatchback’s backseat isn’t easy.
Despite some light choppiness, the ride is generally pleasant. The Accent practically glides over rough spots even though its suspension fails to absorb much harshness. Ample glass area translates into fine visibility.
When accelerating hard in lower gears, the engine delivers a loud blare, but it’s quieter while cruising. The manual-shift-equipped Accent is spirited, but the automatic-transmission model struggles on steep grades. Passing and merging with an automatic-equipped Accent can produce more noise than action, so discretion is wise before darting out into traffic.