Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Hyundai Accent Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Hyundai Accent Overview

Body
The Accent on Value

Good, inexpensive cars are getting harder and harder to find these days, and those that you can find are usually so barren that even the most prudent minimalist would shun being offered a ride. Fortunately, there is still one company that understands that the term "economy car" doesn't have to translate to a no-frills tin can on wheels. Hyundai's Accent is a perfect example of how to offer consumers a nicely equipped, reliable and efficient vehicle that won't break the bank.

For 2003, the entire Accent line gets a complete makeover, with a bold new front end and enlarged rear tail lamps that make the little compact seem larger and somewhat more expensive than it actually is. The Accent may be Hyundai's smallest car, but it is by far their biggest value. Where else can you plunk down less than $10K and drive away with a brand new car that lists among its standard features a 1.6-liter engine, 5-speed manual transmission, AM/FM stereo with cassette, rear defroster, intermittent wipers, dual remote side mirrors, power steering, full wheel covers and an incredibly long 10-year/100,000 mile warranty.

For just a bit more cash, you can opt for the GL hatchback or GL sedan. These two trims add a significant host of additional equipment including air conditioning, digital clock, fog lights, tachometer, split folding rear seat and—on the hatchback model—a rear wiper/ washer. In addition, the GL's offer the option of an electronically-controlled four-speed automatic, power windows, CD player, power mirrors and power door locks. Hatchback buyers can also opt for a new GT package that adds 14-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and body-colored side rocker moldings; inside, white-faced gauges and a leather-wrapped steering wheel reinforce the GT's sporty nature. Remember, you can get all this and the MSRP still hovers just above $12K.

A closer look at the Accent reveals that a great deal of time and effort have gone into its creation. The body panels are even, the paint looks good and everything seems to line up just as it should. The passenger cabin is equally sound and we were impressed at the sturdiness and thickness of the interior plastics, an area that usually gets the short end of the stick on economy class cars. The Accent's dash is simple and straight forward, with just a hint of styling that keeps it from becoming purely utilitarian. You'll find the front seats have nicely padded lower cushions and a generous degree of lower lumbar support; the driver's seat is also height adjustable with both front and rear tilt, another feature unusual in this price range. If you are over six feet, you may find the front seat is a better place to be than the rear. That's because the Accent's roofline actually slopes up, increasing headroom as it moves forward.

Driving the Accent is nothing stellar or earth shattering, and you probably are not expecting it to be. The 1.6-liter engine is a bit course and has to work hard to pull the little car along, especially when loaded down with passengers and chained to the automatic transmission. You won't be seeing any sub-ten second zero to sixty runs in this car, but you will be making fewer trips to the gas station; the EPA rates the Accent with a 5-speed manual transmission at 29-mpg city and 33-mpg highway. You'll find that once up to speed, the little Accent is a spry performer that can whip around corners and zip through rush hour traffic with little more than a tug of the steering wheel. The ride is pretty nice, though the soft springs do allow the shocks to bottom out when pushed to their limit, such as the occasional overzealous encounter with the random speed bump. The GT suspension and tires do a much better job of handling the kind of racy driving attitude the Accent seems to bring out, so if you tend to drive a little quicker than most and like jockeying for parking spaces and squeezing through narrow throughways, the few extra dollars the GT costs is probably a very good investment.

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