MUNCIE -- A Muncie resident who works in Indianapolis, Mike Stults puts in more than his share of "windshield time," and his 125-mile round-trip commute tests a car's reliability. Last month, Stults bought a 2009 Hyundai Accent to drive back and forth to his job at Enzon Pharmaceuticals, where he is a maintenance supervisor and security administrator. The new Accent is the fifth Hyundai that Mike and his wife, Genessee, have bought at Gaddis Hyundai of Muncie over the past nine years.
"These cars have been a godsend to me," Stults said. "I have looked at hybrids, but I paid $11,800 for the Accent, which gets 34 to 35 miles per gallon on the highway, so it's hard for me to justify the higher price of a hybrid."
The Accent's price is comparable to that of a used car, he said.
"A used car that's reliable enough to drive as many miles as I do would cost at least $9,000 to $10,000 -- not much less than I paid for the Accent, which was new," he explained. "I need a car that's dependable, and in nine years, we've never had any Hyundai that we've owned in the shop for anything other than normal maintenance."
While Stults chose the Accent mainly for its low cost of ownership, he has also found the car safe, comfortable and pleasant to drive.
"With my previous car, which was also an Accent, I hit a concrete barrier at 50 to 55 miles per hour; the car was a total loss, but I walked away without a scratch," he said. "The Accent is also very quiet on the highway, and it's comfortable and easy to relax in after working all day."
Jim Raines, sales representative at Gaddis Hyundai, said the Accent offers more than many people expect.
"For under $12,000, you get side-impact and side-curtain airbags, air conditioning and a great warranty," he said. "As is typical with Hyundai, value is the big story here -- the Accent is an inexpensive car that's also a wonderful car to own."
The Accent three-door hatchback is available in two models: The base Accent GS starts at $9,970; the Accent SE has a base price of $15,070.
The Accent four-door sedan, available only in GLS trim, starts at $12,920.
All come with a 110-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic is optional.
Other standard features include six airbags, a six-way adjustable driver's seat, tire pressure-monitoring system, 60/40 fold-down rear seat, four-speaker audio system and rear defroster.
Additional features of the Accent SE three-door include air conditioning, fog lights, tilt steering, rear washer/wiper, XM satellite radio, a six-speaker audio system and a B&M Racing sport shifter.
The four-door Accent GLS has many of the same features as the three-door SE, except the sedan has standard 14-inch steel wheels and optional 15-inch alloy wheels instead of the SE's standard 16-inch alloy wheels. Also, four-wheel antilock brakes and power mirrors, both standard on the SE, are optional on the GLS.
By KEN WICKLIFFE