2011 New York Auto ShowJust the Facts:
- The 2012 Hyundai Accent debuted Wednesday at the 2011 New York Auto Show, with the Korean automaker ditching the entry-level three-door model priced at $10,000 and admitting it is no longer on a quest to offer the cheapest car in America.
- The base 2012 Hyundai Accent GLS now starts at $13,205, including shipping. The entire 2012 Accent lineup hits the magic 40 mpg on the highway mark.
- There is a pricier new five-door Accent SE that tops the range and starts at $17,555, when you add the optional $1,000 six-speed automatic transmission and a $760 destination charge.
NEW YORK — The 2012 Hyundai Accent debuted Wednesday at the 2011 New York Auto Show, with the Korean automaker ditching the entry-level three-door model priced at just over $10,000 and admitting it is no longer on a quest to offer the cheapest car in America. The redesigned 2012 Accent goes on sale this summer in the U.S.
"We're walking away from the lowest-priced-car-in-America game," one Hyundai executive who did not want to be identified, told Inside Line. "We got initial buzz out of that, then you guys would test it and advise consumers to buy a used Ford Focus."
For the time being, the cheapest-car title shifts to the 2011 Nissan Versa sedan, which starts at $10,750, including a $760 shipping charge.
The least expensive 2012 Accent is the GLS model with the new 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine linked to a six-speed manual transmission. It starts at $13,205, including a $760 shipping charge. Like the 2011 Hyundai Accent three-door GL, which started at $10,735, including a $750 shipping charge, it comes without a radio or air-conditioning.
Despite the new packaging and pricing strategy, the 2012 Accent still undercuts several competitors, including the 2011 Ford Fiesta and the 2011 Toyota Yaris. The 2011 Ford Fiesta S starts at $13,995, including a $675 shipping charge. The 2011 Toyota Yaris three-door hatchback starts at $13,715, including a $760 shipping charge.
In comparison, the 2011 Chevrolet Aveo LS has a base price of $12,875, including a $760 shipping charge, while the 2011 Kia Rio sedan starts at $12,990, including a $695 shipping charge.
"In the 2011 model year, 16 percent of total Accent sales were the (cheapest) version," said Brandon Ramirez, Hyundai Motor America product planner for the Accent, in a phone conversation with Inside Line prior to the 2011 New York Auto Show. "There are people who want a vehicle with a low price."
When asked why Hyundai would walk away seemingly without a fight from the cheapest-car title — and the psychologically important $10,000 mark — Ramirez said he didn't believe the calculated move would hurt Accent sales or its image. "We announced the pricing to our dealers and they were very enthusiastic," he said.
Ramirez said the Accent three-door hatchback got dumped after getting "hammered" in the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey for a rear seat that was difficult to get in and out of.
The overall pricing strategy for the 2012 Accent definitely moves the subcompact car upscale. Case in point is the pricey new five-door Accent SE that starts at $17,555, when you add the optional $1,000 six-speed automatic transmission and a $760 shipping charge. The sporty Accent SE is the top-of-the-range model and comes with sport-tuned steering, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler and other goodies.
The 2012 Accent comes in three trim levels: GLS, GS and SE. The base GS five-door starts at $15,355, including shipping.
The redesigned 2012 Accent gets a new 1.6-liter four-cylinder GDI engine rated at 138 horsepower and linked to a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic transmission.
Hyundai said the entire 2012 Accent lineup will return 30 mpg in city driving and 40 mpg on the highway. Official EPA numbers on the Accent have not been posted on the EPA Web site at this point. The 2011 Hyundai Accent with the old 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic transmission returns 27 mpg in city driving and 36 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA.
The redesigned Accent was first revealed last year at the 2010 Beijing Auto Show as the Hyundai Verna. The two models have different front ends, with the U.S. version getting the automaker's hexagonal front grille and swept-back headlights.
The new Accent rides on a 101.2-inch wheelbase, nearly 3 inches longer than the outgoing model. Aerodynamic design tweaks include a kicked-up trunk edge, wheel arches that shield the tires and a smoother lower body. Five-door SE models get a roof-mounted spoiler and vertical taillights. Bigger 16-inch alloy wheels are optional on GLS and standard on SE.
Another major change on the 2012 Accent is electric power steering. The previous model had a hydraulic unit.
Six-speed automatic transmission models of the 2012 Accent get the ActiveEco feature which modifies the engine and transmission control to smooth out throttle response and improve fuel economy. Consumers have the option to turn off that feature.
Edmunds.com says: With the Hyundai Accent moving upmarket, the door is wide open for the Chinese to step into the U.S. with a $10,000 or under car. — Anita Lienert, Correspondent