Why The 2014 Hyundai Azera Is One Of The Two Best Large Family Sedans You Can Buy

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Hyundai Azera
The 2014 Hyundai Azera.
Two weeks shy of a year ago, I reviewed the 2013 Hyundai Azera, compared it to that year's Chevrolet Impala, and pronounced the Azera the winner.  At that point, I had yet to drive the all-new Toyota Avalon.  That's been remedied (the Phoenix bureau has reviewed the Avalon Limited, I drove the Avalon Hybrid), so, we're back to the question...among full-size sedans, which is the best buy?

If you read the reviews of the two Avalons, you may think you know the answer, as both landed well north of $40,000 and the bottom line of the Azera Limited we're talking about here is $37,905.  But we're not comparing hybrids here, and there are a lot of differences between the standard equipment on an Azera Limited and an Avalon Limited.  That's because Toyota has four different trim levels (not counting hybrids) of the Avalon, while Hyundai has two.  The more direct comparison to a Hyundai Azera Limited is actually a Toyota Avalon XLE Premium.

The Azera is $1,305 more expensive than the Avalon ($34,750 versus $33,445).  There are things the Hyundai has the Toyota doesn't...fog lamps, a memory exterior mirror, speed-sensitive wipers, a memory steering column, standard satellite radio (it's an option on the Avalon), standard navigation (again, an option on the big Toyota), front power memory seat, and a folding rear seat. Optioning up the Toyota so that it more closely matches the Azera, it's still about $100 less expensive (most of that can be accomplished by stepping up to the Avalon XLE Touring, which adds other features including some the Hyundai doesn't have, and tips the $100 price difference the other way).

In this class of car, $100 is a rounding error, so we move on.

The EPA fuel economy estimates are also as close to a draw as you can get...19 city/29 highway for the Hyundai compared to 21/31 for the Toyota.

Rear 3/4 view of 2014 Hyundai Azera
2014 Hyundai Azera. 

Styling?  That's subjective.  I prefer the Avalon.  But there's certainly nothing wrong with the Azera's looks.

Interior view of 2014 Hyundai Azera
2014 Hyundai Azera interior.

The interior?  Again, subjective.  Both have serious legroom in the back. The Avalon seems a bit nicer to me. There's no huge gap in the materials or workmanship between the two of them, but the Avalon just seems more solid to the touch...and at the wheel, the Avalon feels like the more substantial car. The Hyundai has 25 more horsepower (293 to the Toyota's 268), so it's a shade quicker, but neither car is slow.

Where the Azera wins is where Hyundai always does.  Its world-class 10 year/100,000 mile warranty. But then, the competition is a Toyota. Likely to be bulletproof.

This round, I'd go with the Toyota Avalon.  But it's close.  And there's a rematch around the corner. The Azera will be all-new for 2015, and early information shows they've been targeting the Avalon. The Azera is certainly within striking distance of the crown.