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2006 Hyundai Accent Sedan Test Drive

Entry level? Hardly - it's too good

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating
User Rating 1 Star Rating (1 Review)

By Philip Powell

Picture of 2006 Hyundai Accent

2006 Hyundai Accent

© Philip Powell
Hyundai has totally redesigned the Accent, its so-called entry-level offering, for 2006 with new styling, new interior, more powerful engine, sophisticated suspension, and more standard safety equipment. Unchanged: The impressive 10 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty. With a starting price of $12,455 for the 2006 Hyundai Accent GLS ($15,410 loaded), the new Hyundai Accent drives away with top honors in the quality sweepstakes. EPA city/highway fuel economy: 32/35 manual, 28/36 automatic.

First Glance: Value never looked so good

If fuel prices are ugly, then small is certainly beautiful. Add additional priorities like quality, value for money and driving pleasure, and one might be tempted to suggest that Hyundai's new Accent is downright gorgeous. Never mind that the styling is merely attractive, it's the total package that counts, thus such superlatives are not out of place. The 2006 Hyundai Accent is North America's new value leader.

Initially only available as a 4-door sedan (a 3-door hatch arrives later) the Hyundai Accent has become what Honda's Civic used to be before it grew in size and price. Everyone's favorite in the economy car category, the Civic looked good, was well-built and best of all, fun to drive. Just ask the kids who turn used Civics into sports compacts. The new Accent takes over where the Civic left off and that, I assure you, is one heck of a compliment.

Compared to the previous model the 2006 Accent offers more interior roominess and remarkably large trunk space thanks to a taller stance. No longer the awkward-looking little appliance it once was, the new Accent has a handsome, rounded profile featuring a roofline that sweeps from hood to trunk in one long curve. Head and taillights make a statement of their own: they're huge.

In the Driver's Seat: Sense and sensibility

Picture of 2006 Hyundai Accent

2006 Hyundai Accent Interior

© Philip Powell
Any thoughts of "cheap" fly out the window when you climb into the seat of this little beauty. The dashboard, for example, speaks of quality with its curvaceous, two-tone effect, while instruments and controls are nicely laid out. I especially liked the vertical stacking of (from top) clock, radio, storage, climate controls, more storage. All within easy reach and operable without taking one's eyes off the road. Upholstery, never a highlight with Hyundai, is so good that at first glance I mistook it for Mercedes' famed MB-Tex. Okay, second glance told me it's just cloth but heck — a very nice cloth indeed.

Sightlines - what you can see outside when seated - are excellent all-round, making for a safer, more relaxed journey. The high roof provides easy access and means tall people fit comfortably. Seats adjust manually with the use of knurled knobs and a seatback lever and while I, personally, can live with manual seats, the knobs and lever are placed too far back. Better set 'em and forget 'em. Power windows, mirrors, remote door lock, are standard. Rear seat access is not easy because of the door-line but passengers won't be cramped and they'll appreciate sitting higher than those in front. The trunk is deep and lengthy.

On the Road: Lively but a bit noisy

Push hard on the throttle and this puppy leaps off its leash like a greyhound. Barks like one, too. (Actually I've never heard a greyhound bark... uh, they do, don't they?) The Accent's 1.6 liter 4-cylinder DOHC engine, with continuously variable valve timing, now produces 110 hp and while it idles quietly and cruises in relative silence, under hard acceleration it definitely makes itself heard; the price of economy yet one you can live with because the bonus lies in responsiveness.

Our tester came with a 4-speed automatic which is more than ample for most folk, however I'll be eager to try the 5-speed manual, especially when the 3-door GSi comes along in 2006.

The 4-speed automatic is EPA-rated at 28/36 mpg, while the 5-speed rates 32/35 mpg. Note the anomoly: the automatic has better fuel mileage on the highway. Don't ask. You won't be breaking any economy records but you won't be breaking your bank account buying gas, either. Remarkably for its price, the Accent has a sophisticated 4-wheel-independent suspension system. Combine this with a wider track, longer wheelbase and larger wheels and tires than its forebears, and you have a small sedan that handles in a sporting manner while still delivering a smooth ride.

Journey's End: Here comes the "V" word again...

Picture of 2006 Hyundai Accent

2006 Hyundai Accent Shows Off New Profile

© Philip Powell
Did I mention value? The Accent GLS includes, as well as those features already touted, 6 airbags, 8-way driver's seat, air-conditioning, heated front seats and mirrors, anti-lock braking with electronic brake force, 15-inch aluminum wheels, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with 6 speakers. That, friends, is a lot of car for little money. Especially when you consider the 10-year powertrain warranty and a reputation for quality that's making everyone sit up and take notice; even Toyota is listening. (Note: the car tested was a Canadian GL Comfort model - unavailable in the US - and was not fitted with aluminum wheels.)

I guess by now you're realising I have nothing but praise for the new Accent. It is ideally suited to today's economics, particularly fuel costs, and offers what most drivers - make that most families with two children - need. The interior is roomy, the trunk spacious, the ride comfortable and normally quiet. Those who like to add a little "spirit" to their driving needn't be disappointed, which I can attest to after tossing the Accent around a deserted parking lot, the roads north of Toronto being too straight for a west-coaster. Complaints were few, praise plentiful. Yep, that's value.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 1 out of 5
Do not Buy This Piece of Garbage!, Member government12

We bought this used vehicle from a Toyota Dealership that was next to four Indian Reserves. It sat on the dealer lot for one year and it was bought at an auction. When we bought the car all four origional Komo tires were completley bald and only after 30,000 km on the vehicle when we purchased it as a used vehicle. Now the salesman played up the fact that it comes with a full Hyundai 100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty! I was wondering why a used Hyundai would sit there for so long not being sold. We experienced trouble from this car from the first day we owned it. From 30,000 km to 100,000 km this vehicle has not stood up to the test of reliabilty! We put over 70,000 km of highway on this car and still the car's fuel economy is terrible! A full tank of gas last me only six days. The car drives like a North American car build twenty years ago. The car shakes at highway speeds. The car is build was too low to the ground with not nearly enough ground clearance! On ice it slids off the road. Yes, it does not have standard ABS brakes, however my 1989 Lincoln Continental and my 1993 and 2004 Chrysler Concorde LX and LXI did respectively! I have slid into bride decks when they become icy during the winter time! All parts now seven years old take over one week to order. The Hyundai parts are just as expensive as Toyota or Honda parts. The resale value of this Accent is quite low as well. After 100,000 km the car fell apart mechanically. Just to change all of the fluids in the car was $1,000 at the Hyundai Dealership. I just replaced the front brakes pads 50,000 km ago and now they are beginning to sweak again. Fluids must be changed ever 50,000 km as per the dealership. I even put high mileage Michelin tires on my Accent and still the ride and handling is not improved in the least. Even I worked at a Hertz and we carried this model and everyone who got this car as a rental whether it was a one rental or a long term rental complained about it to no end! I live in a harsh winter climate with up to 30 cm on snow in a single day can fall and when this happens I got stuck everywhere I went in the city, never mind taking it on the highway during bad weather you would end up in the ditch unable to get out! The entire front end all have been replaced the dealership battery did not even last five year and now the car is on its third Hyundai battery around $130 for the battery! To diagnose the proble was $200 for the test. After the battery was replaced both oxygen sensors went on the car. My Check Engine light comes on ever so often as well. My heater in the car comes on ond off without warning and I have taken it back to the Hyundai dealership numerous times while under warranty and they could not find anything wrong with it however after the warranty then they found the problem and it only cost me $600 to fix it with a wonderful one year warranty and after it was expired the same problem still occurs. The interior trim is so cheap and so ugly. It looks like a vehicle that you would drive someone under a witness protection program! It was such a cheap car to purchase check when you purchase one if it was an former Hertz, Budget, Thrifty, National, Enterprise, Alamo, Avis rental car it will be a year or two old and have around 70,000 km to 100,000 km on it because all of our Hertz customers drove them into the ground because they were involved in so many car accidents from people slamming on the brakes on icy roads then rear ending the vehicle in front of them. The front headlights have connection plug problems especially after it has been replace in a front end collision. Take notice especially if one front headlight is quite dim then the other brand new headlight then you know that it been involved in a collision with another vehicle. Check to make sure that the entire paint of the car matches if its brighter then you know that the body panel was replaced from an accident due to a collison. Then my engine lifters all went on my Accent. A week to fix it and it has 145,000 km on it. That was a $2,000 repair bill and the Hyundai Dealership didn't even have the decency to offer me a dealership loaner car or a car rental. So far I have spent over $10,000 in dealership repairs! So to drive it another 53,000 km cost me $2,000 for each 10,000 km I drove it! Parts for my Accent either come from Vancouver or Toronto and yes the body work parts like front and rear bumpers can come all the way from good old South Korea two to three weeks to wait by boat as well. I will never ever purchase another Hyundai Accent or for that matter another Hyndai or even its twin a Kia vehicle ever again in my lifetime! It's cheap to begin with but what do you expect to buy on a car that costs $15,000 to purchase brand new! Take my humble advice and purchase a Honda Civic or a Toyota Corolla instead and have sometime worth while to sell when you plan to sell it. If you purchase a Hyundai Accent you are buying a bug plaged, unreliable vehicle!

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