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2006 Hyundai Accent

by Martha Hindes

Hyundai Accent
Hyundai Accent Interior

When you challenge the entrenched, comparisons can help. South Korean auto maker Hyundai is no exception. Company lit gives graph after graph proving its cute little Accent has the standard stuff, such as multiple airbags for safety, disc/disc brakes, ABS and boosted engine technology other auto makers sometimes include as options. As a self-proclaimed conqueror in the compact sedan/coupe scene for five that serves the entry level pocket among others (its sales number prove it), the Accent is proving itself a worthy competitor in the budget priced auto race, facing off against Chevy's Aveo, Scion's xA and Kia's Rio in particular and a trio of upcoming new challengers.

Hyundai introduced its third generation Accent as a sedan version for 2006, and will offer a coupe for '07. Power comes from a new, 1.6-liter inline four. Thanks to continuously variable valve timing (CVVT), power is boosted to 110-HP, with enough get-up-and-go to pass a line of 18-wheelers or do a quick merge. We traveled across state in the Accent -- some 200 miles each way -- and found it loped with ease, had facile handling and displayed a modest thirst. Missed, however, was the expected cruise control to replace a lazy right foot during distance drives.

Beyond that we found the Accent, with automatic transmission, a pleasant tester that's suitable for most daily drives and a bargain in the process. Accent homes in on the budget minded with about a $12,500 pricetag. EPA numbers are generous: 32/35 with manual transmission; 28/36 with automatic. Five-year total and 10-year limited powertrain warranties enhance the deal.

Appearance-wise, this third gen in a GLS-only trim is attractive and neat, with available amenities, sensibly laid-out interior and a slightly larger footprint than previous versions (now with a 98.4-inch wheelbase and a slightly wider track). That provides a stable ride, especially welcome with family in tow.

If Hyundai can get past the butchering of its name by Americans -- saying "HUN-day" the way company execs do rather than twisting it into odd-sounding Asian-isms -- the Accent should hold its own as a longstanding, popular U.S. staple, in the face of new contenders coming on line. We're sure Hyundai wouldn't object.