Cheap and Green: 2009 Hyundai Accent vs 2009 Nissan Versa

Follow John

2010 Hyundai Accent

2010 Hyundai Accent

Between car loans, trade-ins, and special promotional incentives, most people rarely write a large check for their new car purchase. But what you can get for $10,000? What's the absolutely simplest, least expensive car on the U.S. market today?

Actually, there are two: the 2009 Hyundai Accent and the 2009 Nissan Versa. They're a mere $20 apart in price, and they both squeak under that magical five-figure barrier in list price. (Before tax, title, delivery, insurance, registration, and all the other add-ons.)

COMPARE: 2009 Hyundai Accent vs 2009 Nissan Versa

Good time to shop for '09s

Savvy shoppers know the end of any model year is the time to look for those bargains on the few remaining prior-year cars that dealers want to ditch in favor of shiny new 2010 versions. In that light, we compare America's two cheapest new cars for the outgoing 2009 model year.

Each has a 1.6-liter engine putting out just over 100 horsepower (107 hp in the Versa, 110 hp in the Accent). And both are decently green, carrying four people while delivering decent mileage for subcompacts (mid-20s in the EPA city cycle, mid-30s on the highway).

2009 Hyundai Accent

2009 Hyundai Accent

2009 Hyundai Accent

2009 Hyundai Accent

2009 Hyundai Accent GS

  • What is it?: Base model of Hyundai's subcompact Accent
  • The basics: A three-door hatchback that's the country's cheapest new car
  • Gas mileage: 27 / 33 mpg with 5-speed manual; 26 / 35 mpg with 4-speed automatic
  • Price: $9,970

The Accent scored 6.4 out of a possible 10 points in TheCarConnection's rating. It won kudos for its fuel economy, the surprisingly spacious rear seat, and the quality of the interior fittings. And, J.D. Power & Associates dubbed it Most Dependable Subcompact on the market.

It got downgraded, on the other hand, for its 1.6-liter engine, which is both slow and noisy, and the "uncooperative" action of its transmission. And in a sign of Hyundai's extreme cost-cutting, anti-lock braking is an extra-cost option.

2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

2009 Nissan Versa Base 1.6

  • What is it?: A specially "de-contented" version of Nissan's popular subcompact
  • The basics: Nissan's plainest five-door hatchback; no air-conditioning or radio!
  • Gas mileage: 26 / 34 mpg with 5-speed manual
  • Price: $9,990

The 2009 Nissan Versa did slightly better in the rankings, with 7 out of 10 points. Positives included the smooth and quiet ride, the interior space and excellent seats, the simplicity of the instrument panel, and its stylish appearance. It includes anti-lock braking as standard, as well as a tire-presssure monitoring system and even a power outlet.

On the downside, the 2009 Versa "isn't very agile," has overly light steering and, a concern for buyers in Southern climes, the Versa Base 1.6 model doesn't include air conditioning. It's an extra-cost option.

Tradeoffs: Doors for air-conditioning?

Only the Accent offers an automatic transmission, and comes with standard air conditioning.

But to get that low price, you give up two doors in the Hyundai; the Versa is a five-door hatchback, and a slightly larger car overall. That said, the Accent rates highly for rear-seat space, once you get back there.

What would GCR drive?

Which of these two miserly motorcars would we buy? We happen to live in a Northern state, so if we were really that dirt-cheap, we would probably sacrifice air-conditioning for the greatest flexibility of the Versa's four doors.

On the other hand, if we were in Texas or Florida, it'd be the Accent without doubt. Gotta have the AC down there.

But in reality ...

Honestly, though, like most people, we would probably spend the extra grand or so to add a few carefully chosen options. And the automakers know that, which is why you almost never see these cheapest-of-the-cheap models on dealer lots.

They make for good headlines in ads, but they're not what people actually buy.

[FamilyCarGuide]

 
Follow Us

Commenting is closed for this article

Take Us With You!

 


 
© 2019 MH Sub I, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Stock photography by izmostock. Read our Cookie Policy.