First Drive: 2012 Hyundai Accent

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Hyundai is on a roll as it continues to update their lineup and push the envelope on design and value. 2011 is shaping up to be the company’s best year as U.S. market share blows past 6%. With this backdrop I encountered very upbeat executives when I traveled out to the Hyundai America Technical Center in Michigan near Ann Arbor to drive the new 2012 Hyundai Accent.

The subcompact segment is growing rapidly as more Americans become sensitive to fuel economy, and the 2012 Accent should do very well as it hits 40 MPG on the highway. Some competitors also hit this threshold but buyers will need to select options that increase the cost of the vehicle by at least $2,000. The Accent offers 40 MPG in its standard package which should be a huge selling point for the cost-conscious consumers in this segment.

Exterior

I was introduced to Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design language when I reviewed the 2011 Elantra and those elements are also utilized in the new Accent which has been redesigned for 2012. The new design is a big leap forward from the previous model, with the wraparound headlamps and a fluid, aerodynamic body structure. The 4-door sedan also features wraparound rear taillights that fit the design nicely, while Hyundai has added a 5-door Accent hatchback to round out the lineup. The hatchback looks more sculpted and has large, distinctive rear taillights that stretch to the top of the rear end. This choice should make the vehicle appealing to even more potential buyers.

Interior

The interior is very stylish for this car which is consistent with all the other Hyundai models I’ve driven. I also liked the modern look and feel of the dash. One feature that stood out was the sliding armrest storage console, as Accent is the only subcompact with this feature. This makes a big different in comfort level. The 5-door has best-in-class cargo volume.

Performance

The performance of the Accent is very competitive with other models in this segment. I’ve been impressed with how carmakers are improving the driving experience in their small car lineup, and the Hyundai Accent is no different. Driving around the roads of Michigan was a breeze, and the Accent performed nicely. I liked the handy Eco mode button which gives drivers the option of maximizing gas mileage versus and extra performance boost. I drove both the 4-door sedan and the 5-door hatchback and found them to be equally appealing.

The 2012 Accent features a new 1.6-liter Gamma GDI engine which is more powerful and 40 pounds lighter that the previous model. It features and aluminum block and head while the previous version had a cast iron block. The engine generates 138 horsepower @ 6300 RPM and 123 lb.-ft torque @ 4850 RPM. With these improvements the Accent delivers best-in-class weight to power ratio.

Accent is also loaded with safety features. It’s the only subcompact to offer standard four-wheel disc brakes and it comes with six airbags.

Overview

The competition in the small car segment is getting fierce, and Hyundai continues to up its game with the new Accent. The value proposition is compelling, and Hyundai is now competing with aggressive styling as well. The entry level 4-door starts at $12,445 MSRP, and the fully-loaded 5-door is priced at $16,795. Buyers will get a lot for their money so I expect this new model to do very well.

  

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First Drive: 2012 Hyundai Genesis

I traveled out to the Hyundai America Technical Center in Michigan to drive the new 2012 Hyundai Genesis. The drive event took place on a beautiful summer day as you can see from the photos and I had the opportunity to drive a couple of different models of the new Genesis, mostly around the scenic country roads around Ann Arbor.

The Genesis has been a big hit for Hyundai, due in large part to its elegant styling and its impressive value proposition. The Genesis has experienced 24 months in a row of year-over-year sales increases. In their presentation to the media, Hyundai executives stressed how the Genesis appeals to affluent buyers who were also practical and frugal. The “millionaire next door” profile fit many buyers of this vehicle. They aren’t the aspiration-type buyers who stretched their budget to show off a BMW or a Mercedes. Rather, they want to show off how many luxury features they could get from a new Hyundai for thousands less than what one would pay for their German competitors.

Exterior

The 2012 Genesis offers an aerodynamic yet elegant look that fits nicely in the luxury segment. It’s a refresh of the 2011 model, so the exterior styling has been updated without major changes. The new LED headlamp accents add a nice touch, and the front grille and front bumper have been updated to create a powerful and aggressive stance. New 17-inch and 19-inch wheel designs are also available, and I particularly liked the 19-inch wheels. You can see from the photos above why this vehicle is doing so well in the luxury market, particularly when you consider the costs savings versus its competitors.

Interior

The interior offered everything you would expect from a luxury sedan. The entire feel of the interior exudes comfort and luxury, and the leather seats were particularly soft. Many luxury features are standard in the 3.8 base model, while a Premium Package and Technology Package are available in the 3.8 and come included in the 4.6 and 5.0 models. The overall feel is a classic design with modern accents that will appeal to professionals and others looking for a luxury experience. I was also struck by how quiet the Genesis was as we cruised around.

Performance

With the 2012 model, Hyundai provided the Genesis with some impressive upgrades under the hood, introducing Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) for the 3.8-liter V6 and a new 5.0-liter V8, representing the most powerful Hyundai engine to date. The new Genesis also features a new 8-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic. At 333 HP, the new V6 has 43 more horsepower than the previous V6, with 291 lb-ft of torque and fuel mileage of 19 city/29 highway. The new V8 features 429 HP and 376 lb-ft of torque, with fuel mileage of 16 city/25 highway.

I drove the 3.8 V6 model first, followed by the 5.0 V8. Both offered solid power and a great ride. The V8 certainly offers more of a kick and it makes a great sound when you punch it on a straightway, but I suspect many buyers in the target market will be more than happy with the power and feel of the V6. I was able to test both of them on a wide variety of roads and my impression of the power and handling were consistently positive. The ride was very smooth even on bumpier country roads, while the suspension offered the level of grip you would expect from a luxury sedan.

Overview

The MSRP on the base 3.8 Genesis starts at $34,200, going to $39,000 with the Premium Package and $43,000 with the Technology Package. The 5.0 V8 has an MSRP of $46,500. This tells the story of the sales increases for the Genesis as it’s available for thousands less than other vehicles in its class. When you drive the vehicle you get an appreciation for the value proposition. Take it for a text drive and you might end up saving yourself a lot of money while getting all the luxury you need.

  

2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited Gallery

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Hyundai USA has been lighting up the sales charts with cars like the 2011 Elantra Limited and we're currently driving one to learn more. Bullz-Eye is putting this 40mpg sedan to the test and first impressions deserve high marks. Check out this gallery and be on the lookout for our upcoming review.

  

2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track M/T Gallery

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Bullz-Eye has the pleasure to review the 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track M/T and as you can see from the photos this is one hot car! The sleek appearance of the Genesis Coupe is a real eye grabber on the road and the interior is top of the line. Look for our upcoming review to learn more about this "real value play" in the sport coupe category!

  

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