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MSRP Range: $11,970 - $15,770
Fuel Economy: 24 MPG city / 33 MPG highway

Compact-car room at a subcompact price.

Introduction

The Hyundai Accent is roomy, comfortable, well-appointed and practical. We find it a viable alternative to the Toyota Yaris, Scion xD, Honda Fit, and Nissan Versa. The Accent offers more interior volume than Yaris, Fit, and xD subcompacts, as well as the Corolla and Civic compact cars.

Power for the Accent comes from a clean and sophisticated 1.6-liter double overhead-cam engine, featuring variable valve timing and delivering slightly more power than the Yaris or Fit. The environmentally friendly Accent is an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle, or ULEV, and rates 33 mpg in the latest, 2008 EPA Highway tests. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has recognized the Hyundai Accent as one of the top 12 "greenest" vehicles you can buy.

What's more, this emphasis on economy and environment does not come at the expense of safety; in fact, Accent offers a generous list of safety features. Six airbags (front, seat-mounted side-impact, and side-curtain) are standard on all models; antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are optional on the sedan and standard on the sporty SE coupe. The Accent and the related Kia Rio are among the least expensive cars on the market with these important safety features.

Hyundai last redesigned the Accent sedan for 2006, and released the latest coupe that spring. While the sedan brings some suave to the entry-level family segment, the coupe is clearly seeking street cred, offering hip accessories ranging from a strut-tower brace to faux carbon-fiber trim.

New for 2008, all audio systems include XM Satellite Radio with a three-month subscription, and an auxiliary audio input jack. There's a new instrument cluster available, and a new alloy wheel design for sedans. 2008 Accent SE coupes come with a B&M sport shifter, plus a rear center armrest with cupholders, and coupes are now available in Mellow Yellow.

We think people in the market for small, practical, but hardly Spartan car should consider the Hyundai Accent alongside the best from the Japanese name brands. A generous five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty with roadside assistance and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty make the Accent a particularly good deal for anyone who does not want to buy a used car and intends to keep the vehicle for an extended period of time.

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