Indeed, Hyundai outsells the high-mileage, conventional-drive competition -- those vehicles that achieve 40 mpg -- by a 6-to-1 margin. In 2011, Hyundai estimates that 200,000 vehicles rated at 40 mpg will be sold, a that number will increase to 285,000 cars in 2012 (which is more cars than Mercedes-Benz sold in the U.S. -- in total -- in 2010).
The 2012 Hyundai Accent is one such car. It gets better fuel economy, delivers more power, more interior room, and a higher level of safety features than the previous model. The new Accent (available in both four- and five-door versions) uses a 138-hp, 1.6-liter, direct-fuel-injection four-cylinder engine. When it goes on sale in May, the new Accent will be priced at $12,445.
The Accent’s 40-mpg highway rating is possible by its ActiveECO system that modifies engine and transmission responses. Hyundai claims up to 7 percent greater real-world fuel economy with the function. With the upcoming new Accent, Hyundai will have four 40-mpg models that don’t rely on hybrid powertrains.
2012 Hyundai AccentUsing what Hyundai calls its "Fluidic Sculpture" design (also seen on the Elantra and Sonata models), the new Accent is slightly longer and wider than the outgoing Accent, providing more interior space for passengers. “Though it’s a subcompact, it's categorized as a compact car, one class up from the competition,” said Brandon Ramirez, the Accent’s product manager. “It has greater cargo capacity than an Infiniti EX35.”
Fuel economy drove the Accent’s redesign, but it wasn’t the only factor. “We got feedback from three-door owners that rear-seat access was a problem, so we decided to make a five-door hatchback and forego the three-door,” Ramirez said.
Vehicle stability control, traction control and antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are all standard. The 2012 Hyundai Accent will hit showrooms this summer.
Hyundai also announced their “Hyundai Assurance Trade-In Value Guarantee.” The company promises to give customers a certain price for their now-new Hyundai when it’s returned for trade-in a few years away. Hyundai’s Krafcik says it’s “more car for your money now and more money for your car later.”
2012 Kia RioThe 2012 Kia Rio five-door and four-door sedan models are slightly larger than last year's models, yet return 40+ mpg highway fuel economy through direct fuel injection and the first start-stop system in the subcompact class, which shuts off the engine when stationary, restarting it as the brake pedal is released.
The new Rio five-door goes on sale in November with the four-door sedan following in early 2012. Historically, Rio sales have skewed towards the sedan, but the 5-door version will compete with the Honda Fit, the new Nissan Versa, and the new Hyundai Accent (which shares its platform and engine).
The all-new chassis is joined by a new 1.6-liter, 138 hp engine with variable valve timing, plus six airbags and four-wheel disc brakes. Pricing has not been announced, but may increase due to the additional standard features.
“Rio has always gotten a lot of credit for value, safety and fuel economy,” says Tom Loveless, Hyundai's vice president of sales. “What was missing was an emotional connection with the car."