What's New for 2008
After gaining a two-door hatchback body style last year, the Hyundai Accent heads into 2008 with minor detail changes and reshuffled content.
Prior to its redesign two years ago, the Hyundai Accent was an easily overlooked economy car. It had an outstanding warranty and an affordable price, but compromised performance and handling kept it from joining the compact leaders. All that changed with the third-generation overhaul, which provided the Accent with a responsive new engine and accompanying performance boost that enabled the Hyundai to keep up with its leading rivals.
An Edmunds "Most Wanted Sedan Under $15,000" last year, the Hyundai Accent's solid entry-level value continues in 2008 with minor upgrades inside that include revised instrument panels on SE hatchbacks and GLS sedans. Cash-poor enthusiasts will want to check out the SE trim as it delivers more inspiring performance thanks to sport-tuned chassis components and a new B&M sport shifter for the manual transmission.
The 2008 Hyundai Accent is certainly one of the better economy-minded cars available. True, it faces stiff competition from models such as the sporty Honda Fit, the well-equipped Nissan Versa and the youthful Toyota Yaris. On the domestic side, Ford's freshened Focus might also deserve a look. Overall, though, the entry-level Hyundai Accent remains a sensible and value-filled economy car in which to face the daily grind.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Hyundai Accent is a five-passenger compact that comes in three trim levels: GS, SE and GLS. The GS and SE are two-door hatchbacks, while the GLS is available in sedan form only. The base GS model is one of the least expensive new cars sold in America, though it achieves that through a minimal amount of content. Features for the GS include 14-inch steel wheels, an eight-way adjustable driver seat and a 60/40-split rear seatback. Air-conditioning, power mirrors and windows, keyless entry and a CD/MP3 audio system with satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack are optional.
The Accent SE hatchback gains the GS's optional features as standard; it also comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, foglamps, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter and a rear center armrest with cupholders. A sunroof is an exclusive option. The Accent GLS sedan gets air-conditioning and the audio system as standard; full power accessories and 15-inch alloy wheels are optional. Additional performance-oriented, audio and styling accessories are available through the dealer.
Powertrains and Performance
Every Hyundai Accent comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine delivering 110 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque. Transferring power to the front wheels is a standard five-speed manual transmission, with a four-speed automatic available across the lineup. Performance and fuel economy are competitive with similarly equipped rivals, with 2008 EPA estimates ranging from 27 mpg city and 32 mpg highway with the five-speed manual to 24/33 mpg with the optional automatic transmission.
Unusual for a vehicle in this segment, all models include standard front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Antilock brakes are standard on SE coupes and optional on GLS sedans. In government frontal-impact crash tests, the 2008 Hyundai Accent sedan scored a perfect five stars for front occupant protection. It didn't fare as well in the side-impact category, with four stars for front occupant protection and three stars for rear-seat passengers. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Accent scored a second-highest "Acceptable" rating for frontal-offset collisions and a "Poor" ranking in side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the Accent's design is simple and functional. The quality of materials is acceptable, and the Accent's cabin provides a comfortable atmosphere with a feeling of spaciousness from the driver seat. Outward visibility is very good, with the short hood allowing a panoramic view of what's ahead. Hyundai likes to boast that the Accent provides more interior volume than a Honda Civic. If you plan on carrying passengers in the back, keep in mind that the Versa and Yaris hatchbacks offer more rear-seat legroom. Cargo room is average for its class, with more than 12 cubic feet in the sedan and nearly 16 cubic feet in the hatchback.
Though it certainly can't be considered quick, the 2008 Hyundai Accent performs capably, without too much protest from under the hood. On smooth roads, the ride is calm and forgiving on GS and GLS models, while the performance-oriented SE delivers a firmer driving experience with greater feedback. Though generally pleasant, its ride comfort suffers over bumpy surfaces, as the suspension and steering tend to transmit too much harshness into the cabin. Handling and braking are both respectable, though, with good stability and short stopping distances for a car in this price range.