New Car Review: 2013 Hyundai Azera

Front 3/4 view of 2013 Hyundai Azera

By this point, I'm going to assume that you've paid enough attention that you're aware Hyundai is no longer the punch line to a joke.  They worked on quality control for most of the last decade, comfort and convenience after that and moved on to power and even....(gasp!) styling.  And in the process, made a couple of standard-bearers (Toyota, Honda) look stodgy.

With the Azera, Hyundai is moving into a highly competitive but somewhat smaller niche of the car market...the big full-size sedan.  It's head-to-head now against Toyota's Avalon, the Ford Taurus and the Chevrolet Impala.

And, in what should come as a surprise to no one, Hyundai turns in a thoroughly worthy effort.  In any other year, it would probably walk off with the prize, but there's the truly remarkable 2014 Chevy Impala to contend with.  So, how's the Azera stack up?

Rear 3/4 view of 2013 Hyundai Azera

The Azera starts at $32,250...$2,300 more than the Chevy Impala 2LT we tested, but equipped closer to the 1LTZ, which is actually $2,205 more than the Hyundai.  View the standard equipment here.  Advantage Azera.

The standard (only) engine is a 293 horsepower 3.3-liter V6.  It comes hooked up to a six-speed automatic.  For the Impala, it's a 305 horsepower 3.6-liter V6, with a six-speed automatic as well.   12 horsepower's not a lot, but the Azera is a couple of hundred pounds lighter than the Impala, so it's quicker (about 7/10ths of a second less to 60), and it gets slightly better gas mileage, according to EPA estimates (20 city/29 highway for the Azera, versus 18/28 for the Impala). Again, advantage to the Azera.

Interior view of 2013 Hyundai Azera

Our Impala topped out at $35,570.  The Hyundai blew past that with just two options...$100 for carpeted floor mats and $4,000 for the Technology Package (19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, HID Xenon Headlights, rear parking assistance, an upgraded Infinity premium audio system with subwoofer, venitlated front seats, a driver's side cushion extender, power rear sunshade and manual side window sunshades, power-adjustable tilt and telescoping steering wheel column,  a memory seat system, and interior ambient lighting).   With destination, that brought the Azera to $37,225.  And a lot of those options in the technology package weren't on the Impala.  So I'd have to call price a draw.

Until the rest of the world adopts Hyundai's 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, it will always win that comparison.

So, reviewing the last four paragraphs, there's not a single area in which the Impala is better than the Azera. I prefer the Impala's styling, but that's purely a matter of personal taste. Unless one or the other was hideous, I have to call that a draw.

They saved that for behind the wheel.  And it's subjective. Your impressions may vary, which is why I always say "take a test drive"....but the Impala just feels more substantial, more solid...it drives smoother...it simply feels more special than the Azera.  Not by much, mind you...we're talking a very narrow margin of victory here, and you won't hear a word of criticism or see a single raised eyebrow from me if you go for the Azera rather than the Impala.

And ultimately, that's not the story to me.  The story....the truly amazing thing here...is that we're talking about big sedans...and the two best choices (so far...the Kia Cadenza and Toyota Avalon have been promised to us).....are Chevrolet and Hyundai.

Five years ago, we'd have never believed it.