Hyundai Accent

 By Paula MacPherson

The interior of the 2012 Hyundai Accent seems entirely out of place in a car with a $16,000 price tag. Granted, there's lots of plastic, but it looks very good. Add in upholstery that doesn't scream "cheap" and a variety of standard features, and the Accent scores high on the value meter.

Getting comfortable is easy, thanks to a standard six-way manual driver's seat and a tilt wheel. The instruments are exceptionally easy to read and the controls are straight forward. One blessing bestowed on cars in this price range is the absence of too much technology. The heater and air condition rely on three knobs and a few push buttons. Adjusting the temperature or air flow can be done without taking your eyes off the road.

Even the radio is easily mastered. It uses knobs to adjust volume and change the station. There are also six buttons for station presets. It's a simple approach that's increasingly overlooked by competitors. Unfortunately, the blue radio screen with station information could be hard to read under some lighting conditions.

The electric power steering has a funny feel to it. I think I've finally figured out many of these systems. They require more effort than you would expect to initiate a turn,even a minor one, when traveling at highway speeds. Other than that, the Accent drives nicely.

The styling drew compliments. The sloped windshield makes a logical mounting point for a portable GPS unit a long reach, however. Ditto for cleaning the bottom of the inside of the windshield. At least the DMV no longer requires us to affix registration stickers down there.

The interior is roomy, with adults up to six feet able to fit in the back seat. The trunk, at nearly 14 cubic feet, is also impressive.

Fuel economy worked out to 31 miles per gallon. With the 40 mpg highway rating, I was hoping for more, but we faced a lot of heavy traffic in our week with the car.

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