Hyundai is on quite a roll of late, and the brand-new 2012 Accent is perhaps the most impressive model revision yet from the Korean automaker. The entry-level Accent stacks up incredibly well in a segment that has recently been revolutionized by products such as the Ford Fiesta, the Chevrolet Sonic, and the Mazda 2. Like its predecessor, the new Accent is an inexpensive car, but it no longer feels cheap. It features a 1.6-liter direct-injected four-cylinder that produces 138 hp and paces the class in fuel mileage, achieving EPA ratings of 30/40 mpg city/highway. The exterior styling might not appeal to folks with a phobia of melted things, but it helps the car stand out boldly from its competitors as well as its predecessors. The quirky-cool two-door coupe body style didn’t return for this season, but it has been replaced by a more usable four-door hatchback (available in GS and SE trim), which carries a premium over the base four-door sedan (which comes only as the GLS). The Accent’s cabin is surprisingly spacious — its interior volume earns it a spot in the EPA’s Compact class even though it is, by general definition, a subcompact car. Air-conditioning, a radio, and power windows and door locks are not standard equipment on the most miserly GLS models, but all Accents come with four-wheel disc brakes and six air bags. Few subcompacts are penalty boxes these days, and the Accent proudly stands at the top of its segment alongside the likes of the Ford Fiesta.

Drive: Front-wheel
Trim Levels: GLS, GS, SE

Body styles: Sedan, hatchback, 5-passenger
Engine: 1.6L I-4, 138 hp, 123 lb-ft
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 89.7-90.1 cu ft
Cargo space: (sedan) 13.7 cu ft; (hatchback, rear seats up/down) 21.2/47.5 cu ft

Everything. The third-generation Accent was a good and fairly unremarkable car, but the all-new 2012 model has leaped to the top of the class. If you miss the old Accent coupe, check out Hyundai’s new Veloster.

Dual-stage front air bags, front side air bags, side curtain air bags, and active front head restraints are standard equipment on all Accents. Antilock brakes are also standard, as are traction and stability control, electronic brake-force distribution, and tire-pressure monitors.

All: 30 mpg city/40 mpg highway

  • Class-leading mileage, power
  • Refreshingly spacious
  • Difficult to find faults
  • Lacks fancy options like sunroof, nav, or leather
  • Armrests need more padding

From so-so to top of the heap.

  • Chevrolet Sonic
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Kia Rio
  • Nissan Versa

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