Car week continues with a slapdash first impressions review of a vehicle we had an unexpected chance to drive around in for a while on Wednesday afternoon. Car: Hyundai Accent. Configuration: 5 door hatchback. Year: I dunno, pretty recent. It was probably a ’14 or ’15. Color: sort of a nice metallic red over cloth and plastic in various uninteresting shades of grey. Overall verdict: OK.
This is not an exciting car, but it does the job. The Accent seems like a perfectly decent in-town runabout that would be suitable for errand running or a short commute. It is quite good looking, with a simple design in the latest fashionable Asian style. This is not a family or road trip car: it’s noisy and the ride is rough and I would not want to have to sit in the back seat for any length of time. The front seat isn’t a bad place to be for short periods; there is plenty of head and knee room with the seats pushed back, and those seats, while low and not well padded, are not offensive ergonomically. The air conditioning worked well enough for an eighty degree afternoon in June, and the controls for both HVAC and the base radio were clear and easy to use. There is a relatively large cargo area with a tidy cover to conceal your belongings, and it looked like the rear seats would fold down for extra space, although we did not test it.
I did not get to drive the Hyundai, but the driver reports that it was OK, with reasonably good steering and enough horsepower to get out of its own way, although the transmission needed to downshift frequently enough to lead to a final assessment of “underpowered but not horrible”. It kept up well enough in freeway traffic to feel safe. Side mirrors were notably large and easy to use (bravo, Hyundai), although the current popular trend toward high beltlines and thick C pillars meant that rear visibility through the cabin was tight.
His worst complaint, and this is a serious one, was that the gauges, particularly the tach and speedo, were difficult to pick up in bright sunlight. If you are considering buying an Accent, be sure to test drive it on a sunny day and make sure you can read the gauges. We did not drive the car after dark so there is no comment on its night time lighting, nor did we have it long enough to say anything about fuel economy except that it was not notably bad.
If you end up with this small Hyundai as a rental for one or two people, you shouldn’t cringe. It is not bad at all for a cheap car. Build quality seemed at least OK, so if the model doesn’t show any long term problems, a well cared for example will probably make a decent used car in a few years. If you are considering buying new, weigh the value of the warranty against getting more car for your money on the late model secondhand market, particularly if you drive long distances.
So, thanks, little red Hyundai, for a perfectly adequate afternoon of running around doing errands. We’ve driven plenty of cars that were a lot worse.