2012 Hyundai Accent SE HD Video Review

Your friends are probably looking for a reasonably priced car. Click “like” so they can check the Accent out.

The disparity between the haves and the have-nots is in sharp focus these days. Families are cutting back, the victims of a damaged economy too slow to heal.  On the other hand you may have heard that Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) has even trimmed back since he has only $400,000 to feed his deprived family.  That’s after expenses.  Perhaps they have been forced to downgrade to Scharffenberger sparking wines from Dom Perignon champange. Pity them.


We all can’t all live in mansions, nor can everyone drive a fancy high-end car.  Fortunately even an inexpensive ride provides the luxury of transportation (something we Americans often loose sight of).  The Hyundai Accent certainly offers good solid value for us, the 99 percent.  It’s a vehicle many on a budget would be happy to occupy.

Easy To Buy

Including destination, prices start at $14,970 for the sedan (which is only available in base trim).  The particular SE hatchback I’ve been driving for a week stickers for $16,570. You’d be cross shopping Accent if you were thinking of Fiesta, Fit, Sonic, Rio, Versa and Yaris.  Just a couple years ago there were few players in this subcompact segment.  Now days it’s a pretty crowded field.

Manufacturers believe that by snagging young buyers with a reliable reasonably priced car, they’ll remain brand loyal and upgrade to a fancy car when they get that corner office.  That could be a Genesis, might even be a luxurious Equis.


In the meantime a direct injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 138 horsepower will be getting you around town.  There’s a six-speed automatic for $1,000, my tester has the six-speed manual with good action and clutch take up.  Folks buy these for fuel economy, the EPA rates it at 30 city, 40 highway.

I drove down to Portland, OR in the Accent and with the cruise control set at 60 miles-an-hour I bested the EPA, achieving a consistent 42 miles per gallon (and yes I was in the far right lane).  At a more realistic speed of 70 it drops to 36.  That’s just physics folks.  Slogging around in the Rose City, the trip computer read 25 but I wasn’t trying to max out fuel economy in any way.  I’d say the EPA numbers are fairly close in the real world, just depends how hard you push it.

It’s Flingable

While in Portland I found Accent is fun to fling around city streets though it’s not as sporty as Honda Fit or Chevy Sonic.  The size is compact enough to score easy street parking.  The whole package is refined and fairly quiet.  It’s comfortable too with supportive seats that hold up well on long trips.


Power is decent, 0-60 happens in around 8 seconds with the shift-it-yourself-box.  Go with the automatic and you’ll need more patience, that 60 MPH run will easily take a full second longer than the manual.

Many low priced cars get drum brakes in the back.  Hyundai uses disc units at all wheels.  Modulation is good.  As you know Uncle Sam mandates electronic stability control these days.

Not a Penalty Box

Inside, Accent doesn’t feel cramped which is always a bonus with a subcompact.  Materials look and feel decent, the instrument panel gets a unique texture and feel though the bulk of the materials are hard.  The steering wheel does not get a reach adjustment, it only tilts.  Those comfy seats are covered with a subdued stylish fabric, with a pattern looking like little electrodes from an old transistor radio.  It’s better than some in more expensive cars.


Switchgear feels fine, so do door releases.  There’s Bluetooth for phones and a dedicated iPod jack which would be great news if the sound system were worth writing about.  It’s serviceable, good for listening to business news in order to move you up into the next tax bracket.  You’ll be turning to the aftermarket for better tunage, there’s no premium sound option.

Often times, inexpensive cars leave out covered center console storage but Accent has it with an adjustable armrest.  Fabric on the door panels and a grippy leather-wrapped steering wheel will convince your hands that you broke the budget.  Sun visors get mirrors, there’s a spot for sunglasses too.  All that and no iDrive.


Move to the Back

Smaller cars often force backseat occupants into uncomfortable contortions.  Accent treats them okay.  Evil Twin stopped by and, when sitting behind me, he didn’t complain anymore than he usually does.  FYI, we are about average height at 5’9”.

Foot room isn’t generous but it’s okay and expected in this class.  Much like the competition there’s not a lot features in steerage.  Few of Accent’s competitors have door storage, folding armrest, more than one seat pocket or a power port to charge electronics.

Next time you’re out car shopping you might notice a trend, one certainly not limited to Hyundai- no spare tire, just a repair kit.  Manufacturers say it reduces weight, and of course cost.


When it comes to cargo, Accent is average for a subcompact hatchback, swallowing five packs of Kirkland’s finest embossed bath tissue.  Naturally the seats split and fold making the hatch version much more versatile than the sedan.  And remember, the sedan is only sold as a very basic model.

Fluidic Sculpture is Standard

Styling? Accent ‘s Fluidic Sculpture design language is pleasant enough to look at.  It follows the same wedgey school of sculpting that Fiesta and Sonic use.  Planning on using a roof rack?  There are dedicated mounting points on top, making it simple.

For those into safety, the 2012 Accent scores a “good” rating in NHTSA’s roof-strength and frontal crash tests, and an “acceptable” rating in the side-impact test. There are six airbags to protect occupants.  Pretty standard though some cars like Chevy Sonic are up to ten.  That’s a lot of airbags.  Hope you never need a single one.

30719_1_1 Summing up, Accent is a well-done subcompact in a very crowded and competitive segment. It doesn’t offer many trendy options like navigation, keyless ignition and killer sound system but for those who can’t, or won’t spend a lot of money on transportation, it’s a good solid way to get from point A to point B.  Heck, with $400,000, Rep. Fleming could practically buy one for each re-election staff member (though after a statement like that you have to wonder about his chances).  Hyundai makes this strong Accent easy to understand, and own.



  1. 68mlo says:

    Hey, Tom! I enjoyed the review, but I gotta ask: How easy (or not) is it to see directly aft in the Accent 5-door? That rear window looks VERY small.

    • TV says:

      Don’t remember it being a problem, certainly better than say the Evoque. Could be since it’s a small car it’s physically closer to the driver making it easier to see out of.

  2. Runs_And_Drives says:

    I really love the color of that test car. The styling hits me far better than its Rio cousin too. Very nice. If only the inside looked as good as the outside.

  3. FinalBlue says:

    THERE, OKAY, WE GOT IN AN ACCENT PROMOTION. NOW WE ARE FINALLY DONE WITH THE H/K 2011 NEW PRODUCT BLITZ…unless Tom does the thing he did with the Optima and Sonata and just makes a bunch of reviews of the different trims.

    Can’t wait to see the H/K guerrilla marketing folks coming in here and doing damage control for that safety information.

    Also, why is this review playing on blip and not youtube, Tom? Are we getting extended versions of reviews again?(because that would be awesome)

    Anyway, back on topic: In terms of styling, this is the point where Hyundai’s repetitive, overly-swoopy design language started becoming redundant to me. The way I see it, there’s simply no passion with this car, mainly because it’s entirely too similar to its older sibling, the Elantra (as well as the rest of the Hyundai lineup in general). I don’t think the Accent’s styling will age well…at all. Also, it’s interesting that an automatic is optional on ALL the Accent trims.

    While I’m here, I also just want to say that I think Hyundai is quite good at making impressive numbers…that don’t translate well in the real world. Fuel economy is the obvious culprit, but horsepower is starting to be in a similar situation.. For a car with “BEST IN CLASS HORSEPOWER”, the Accent should be a little more engaging to drive, don’t you think?

    • TV says:

      Oh no, there’s more FM. I have a piece already shot with the new 2012 Soul. It’s coming soon! Look for it. Just got an invitation to the new Azera and Genesis refresh too. The machine never stops…

      Different trims? I’d say a turbo motor and hybrid system warrant separate reviews, just like the Turbo Veloster will. Another for you to look forward to.

      Styling is subjective. At least you know you’re looking at a Hyundai these days, they have a distinctive design language. Some manufacturers haven’t gotten that far.

      They can’t say best in class hp anymore, Sonic matches that (plus adds an extra helping of torque with the turbo to boot).

      No, you’re not getting extended versions here. I just haven’t had the time to upload to YT yet. Besides, I’m kind of liking the fact they’re exclusive on my website for a few days. I might make that SOP from here on out.

      • FinalBlue says:

        Soul, Genesis (Coupe, I assume), Azera, AND Veloster Turbo? Boy, that’s a lot. I guess the fight rages on, then…hahaha.

        Anyway, all I mean by the “TOO MANY H/K REVIEWS GAHHH” comment is that it’s a little odd how there are in fact 3 Optima reviews, 2 Sportage reviews, and 2 Sonata reviews, but less videos on other cars with significant variants, such as, say, the Jetta or Camry.

        It’s probably just because I’ve watched them all, but I think it might’ve been best to hold the reviews (like you say you do sometimes) until you had recorded information on all the variants, then compile them into one video (sort of like what you did with the Lexus GS). So like (hypothetical situation), if someone was interested in the Optima, they could watch your one Optima video, and get information on the vanilla, Turbo, and Hybrid variants all at once.

        Darn, I was really hoping for a return of the extended reviews.

        • TV says:

          The problem with your suggestion is that these reviews grow from a TV gig I have in Seattle. Those have a max time of three minutes, nowhere near time enough to cover many variants. So I often do them separately. Also, many times I’ll get those variants over time, say three to four months so I’d have to hold reviews too long. I get many more hits when the reviews are fresh.

          I can do all the variants if I go to an event and they have them all but that’s rare. Notice I didn’t say much about the Camry Hybrid? It’s cause I didn’t have time to drive it, so I only mentioned it. I’m getting one of those in a couple weeks and will do a separate review since many people are interested in it.

          I’d love to do the Jetta TDI and or the GLI. Same with the new Passat and Beetle. Not all manufacturers have loads of press cars and since I couldn’t attend the press launch of Passat I’m sort of of out of luck until I get a car from VW. I can only review the cars that I can drive, simple as that.

          “Driven” has always been the extended version and continues to be such. “Drive” was just the version that was shown on TV so it was shorter. So really, you’re getting the extended version. If I have the material I make them much longer, if not they’re only a minute or two longer.

          One last thing- I just spent all weekend shooting a Subaru and another project (to be announced in a few weeks I hope) on top of prepping the Accent story for the website (which I created and manage myself). I have a story due for the Seattle Times on Wednesday on top of writing and editing next week’s video review. In short, I’m just one guy and can only do so much. No complaining though, it’s fun.

          Let’s just say I have a lovely and very understanding wife (and family).


  4. raschmidt says:

    I like that car, I noticed it was quite a bit cheaper when you start loading on the options than the Kia Rio. In fact, I think the SE was at least 2-3k cheaper than anything else in the segment.

    • TV says:

      I’d say Rio is actually less expensive when compared feature to feature. Fully loaded they’re both around 17.5K and the Rio adds backup cam, UVO and folding exterior mirrors. They are less expensive than a lot of the competition though.

  5. motorstreet says:

    I know a couple people who own the new Accent. They both own Automatic sedan models. I know that one of them gets about 36mpg in at least 50% highway driving. The fuel economy usually improves after the break in period, so getting 42mpg in a factory fresh car is pretty impressive.

    The crash test ratings you cited are from IIHS, not NHTSA.