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2006 Hyundai Accent reviews

February 28, 2006 11:13 AM EST | Hyundai , Sedans | Email to Friend | Comments (0)

View large imageNo longer a downmarket penalty box, the new Accent is pleasant to drive, comfortable and loaded with features -- at a bargain price.

Ample acceleration, smooth ride, stable handling, attractive interior, comfortable seats front and rear, standard front side and side curtain airbags, generous warranty.

Cruise control isn't available, a few plastics look cheap.

What's New for 2006
The 2006 Hyundai Accent sedan has been completely redesigned for 2006. It's now roomier and more refined and comes with a features list topped by a spunky 110-hp engine and standard ABS and side curtain airbags.

Introduced in 1995, the Accent surprised people with its solid construction and decent equipment list for a vehicle positioned at the bottom end of the economy car segment. Between its unrefined road manners and lack of amenities, however, it was basic transportation and nothing else. Hyundai redesigned the Accent for the 2000 model year, and our experience showed that this car, too, was a decent buy for those seeking basic transportation. A restyle in 2003 resulted in a more modern-looking exterior, but with fierce competition looming, namely Scion's xA and the upcoming Toyota Yaris, Hyundai knew a major redo was necessary. Although the 2006 Accent may not have the Scion's fashion sense, it's pleasant to drive, loaded with features and comfortable to boot.

Of significant note, all Accents now come standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, side-impact airbags for front passengers and full-length side curtain airbags, items that you typically have to pay extra for, even on larger, more expensive sedans. The new Accent is also larger by a few inches all around. The result is 104.6 cubic feet of interior room, the most for a sedan in its class.

Quickness is not within a lower-end economy car's grasp, but energized by a new 110-hp, 1.6-liter inline four with variable intake valve timing, the 2006 Accent gets around as easily as any of its peers. As before, suspension consists of a simple arrangement of struts in front and a semi-independent torsion bar with coil springs in back, but Hyundai engineers took more care when tuning it, because it's fully capable of managing body movement and road irregularities. Handling around corners is sure and steady, and the highway ride is smooth and quiet.

Of the entry-level economy cars on the market today, the Accent is one of the most likable and offers excellent value.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The Accent is available as a four-door sedan in one trim level, GLS. Standard equipment includes 14-inch wheels; cloth interior; a CD player; manual windows, locks and mirrors; a tilt steering wheel, an eight-way adjustable driver seat; and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat. The optional Premium Sport Package provides air conditioning, power windows and door locks, keyless entry with alarm, heated power-adjustable exterior mirrors and 15-inch alloy wheels.

Powertrains and Performance:
Powered by a new 1.6-liter inline four with variable intake valve timing, the 2006 Accent gets around as easily as any of its peers. Horsepower comes in a 110, while torque rates 106 lb-ft. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a four-speed automatic is optional.

All major safety features come standard on the Accent, including four-wheel antilock disc brakes, side-impact airbags for front occupants and full-length side curtain airbags. You'll find adjustable head restraints and three-point seatbelts, and the front seatbelts feature pre-tensioners and load limiters as well.

Interior Design and Special Features:
The Accent's two-tone cockpit has an airy, optimistic feel so often lacking in this price bracket. Interior materials quality is above average, but a few of the plastics aren't up to the Scion xA's level. The cloth upholstery is attractive and breathes well in warm weather, and the control layout is as straightforward as they come. The headliner is extra thick, which gives this budget sedan a surprisingly quiet ride. Seat comfort is excellent, as the well-shaped front chairs offer a generous range of seat-track travel. In back, headroom and legroom should be ample for all but the tallest adults, and the tall bench provides good thigh support and easy installation for car seats.

Driving Impressions:
The 1.6-liter engine provides decent low-end pull, and a strong midrange allows the Accent to merge into highway traffic with ease, although the engine gets noisy at higher rpm. Shifting the manual gearbox is enjoyable, thanks to the distinct gates and forgiving clutch. Acceleration is just as good with the automatic, which serves up smooth upshifts and on-time downshifts. The Accent's ride is smooth and stable, as the suspension does a fine job of soaking up road irregularities. Pushed through corners, the Accent responds with predictable body roll and nicely weighted steering.

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