Are you in the market for a gas-sipping auto that earns more than 30 mpg combined? Think it's impossible to acquire such a green machine for less than $10,000? Well, with the all-new Hyundai Blue trim available on the Hyundai Accent, you can have just that.
The Hyundai brand name has long been known for its affordability and reliability. The 2010 Hyundai Accent returns as the manufacturer's smallest and most affordable option. Standard Accent models start at around $12,995 and earn an already-impressive 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway (30 mpg combined).
Opt for the Hyundai Accent Blue model, however, and you'll receive improved highway fuel efficiency for even less money. That's right, in an age where hybrid technology and other gas-saving features typically come with a premium, leave it to Hyundai to figure out how to make fuel efficiency more affordable.
Run the numbers, and you'll find that the Hyundai Accent Blue is EPA-rated at 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway (31 mpg combined) and comes with a starting price tag of $9,970. How did they do it? Sadly, there's no magic involved - the South Korean company simply tweaked gearshift ratios and made a few aerodynamic tweaks to bolster efficiency for highway driving. However, for those looking to maximize their fuel efficiency, these simple tricks make the Hyundai Blue the bargain leader when it comes to eking out as many mpgs as possible.
So why exactly does the Hyundai Accent Blue cost roughly $3,000 less than the next-tier Accent GS? Well, as it turns out you'll have to settle for a near non-existent list of standard features to enjoy the maximum fuel efficiency offered by the Accent Blue. Features many drivers may take for granted - such as air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, power windows and a stereo system - don't come bundled in that sub-$10,000 price tag.
Additionally, the Hyundai Accent Blue is only available with a 5-speed manual transmission. As such, if you're not interested in a car that requires you to drive stick, then you'll have skip past the base Accent model.
Safety features also leave something to be desired. Six airbags come standard, but you'll need to pay a premium for things like anti-lock brakes.
Still, if you can get past the Accent Blue's sparse interior, then it remains an intriguing option for bargain hunters looking to brag about their ability to blow past the gas station. Seat comfort for front passengers is more than adequate, and both the hatchback and sedan body styles offer plenty of interior space and driver visibility.
Rear seat spaciousness is about as good as one might expect from the compact vehicle class. Storage volume remains on par with competitors with 16 cubic feet of space on hatchback models (12 cubic feet for sedans).
The Hyundai Accent Blue impresses in the category of engine performance as well. Though outfitted with a small 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, the Accent makes the most of its 110-horsepower powertrain by offering decent acceleration and good around-town driving. Though certainly no sports car, the average daily commuter should have few complaints about the vehicle's driveability.
If you find that the Hyundai Accent simply isn't big enough for you, then you might consider upgrading to the Hyundai Elantra Blue. For about $14,000, you'll get much more car (power windows and antilock brakes come standard) and fuel efficiency figures of 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.
Note, however, that the Elantra Blue also lacks standard air conditioning and the option for an automatic transmission.
Stepping off of a Hyundai dealer lot, you'll find adequate alternatives in the Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio and Nissan Versa. With a combined 30 mpg and a price tag below $10,000, the Versa is perhaps the closest competitor. Both the Toyota Yaris and Kia Rio start around $12,000.