Below is my story of how and why I bought a Hyundai Azera.
I was T-Boned on 666 earlier this year. As a result, I had to go and buy a car. It didn't have to be a new car, but I guess I was looking for an excuse.
We had already decided that we didn't want a mini-van. Having two kids, though, we really needed to look for a car that would accomodate two car seats in the back seat and still give the driver (me) plenty of comfort. In other words, I didn't want my knees up in my chest while I was driving. This was particularly challenging because our youngest, Rowan - six months old at the time of this writing, requires a rear-facing car seat because of his age. This results in the driver's seat having to be crammed forward to accomodate the child's seat.
So, this small detail ended up dictating where the starting point would be for our car search.
Not Made In the USA
It had to be a large car. We didn't really want to buy an American car. As practical as we are, we still aren't comfortable driving a Buick LaSabre or any other car that only 50+ year olds drive. Its a deliberate bias that we've purposefully adopted. That being said, we did look at the Lincoln Towne Cars (Livery Edition) out of a desire to replicate the opulence of getting chauffered around town. Although, that metaphor would make us the chauffer and the kids the masters.
No German Soccer
Anyways, we continued to research other large-sized mid sized cars. We liked the German cars, but are either too expensive or Consumer Reports didn't like them. Additionally, the Audi A4 and A6 backseats are really just too small. We really liked Lexus, but we really havn't hit that stage in our lives yet. Of the SUV lines we looked at and test drove the Highlander and the RAV4. Both were nice, but seemed like overkill for our family. We aren't quite at the "soccer" stage yet. Neither of us were comfortable.
We then looked very hard at the Toyota Avalon (a Lexus without the Lexus name). This car felt good. Really good. It seemed like the right mixture of luxury, practicality and space. It accomodated our family very nicely and provided us adults with the luxury that we required. (I know, required is such a strong word to use in this context...but its true).
We had further ruled out the Infiniti G-35 because the backseat wasn't quite big enough to accomodate our family. Plus, the 298 horsepower was killer on gas and a bit too dangerous for my lead foot. (I love that car). We ruled out Acura's too because, well, the interiors still look and feel like Honda Civics...in spite of the Sport Shift and excellent handling.
Word of Mouth Marketing
As a result, we honed in on the Toyota Avalon Touring Edition as well as the XLS. At the last minute, a friend asked if I had looked at the Hyundai Azera. I laughed.....no way. Hyundai? Forget it. He then proceeded to explain his dilemma when recently searching for a car and retold his Azera test drive experience. He explained that he really enjoyed driving the car, etc.
I half-heartedly told him that I'd check it out. I started reading up on the Azera and read reviews and reviews and reviews and learned that it was a "decent" car. So, I lined up a few test drives.
Next thing I know I've decided on the Azera over the Avalon and I got several quotes from dealers via the internet ranging from $25,945 - $27,500 for the top of the line Hyundai Azera Limited with Ultimate Trim Package (Black Exterior with Beige Leather Interior). I did all of the price searching at Edmunds.com and received multiple quotes via email. Its the ONLY way to buy a car these days.
I did a very hard comparison between the Azera Ltd Ultimate with various trims on the Toyota Avalon. In the end, my gut still says that the Avalon is the better car (overall smoother ride (although the backseat of the Azera is comparably as smooth as the Avalon). The Avalon had zero hesitation on acceleration. I fell in love with the Avalon's reclining rear seats...but I ended up ignoring this feature since I remembered that my backseat will have 2 car seats. The Toyota brand is stronger and will probably hold its value better than the Azera as well.
Hyundai It Is
BUT, in spite of that, I couldn't bring myself to spend the extra $4-$5k to get the Azera Equivalent. Azera is packed with great features at a great price. I don't need Navigation System so that made the comparison even easier. Also, the Toyota warranty was substantially less than the Hyundai warranty...and, the Toyota dealerships simply wouldn't deal with me as much. They only discount their demo cars. They didn't offer me any aggressive financing...which makes me feel like Toyota is saying, "Take it or leave it. We don't need you."
I ended up asking myself, is a 12-15% smoother ride worth $4 - $5k? My
answer was no. Besides, my wife is short (vertically challenged) and the adjustable pedals in
the Azera sealed the deal for her. The Memory Seats eliminate the need for me to crunch my knees everytime I get in the driver's seat after my wife has been driving it. Plus, Hyundai backs this car up with a 10 Year / 100,000 Warranty. We couldn't go wrong.
This car drives and handles very well. It brakes very nicely and seems to brake in very close accordance with the amount of pressure on the pedals (I'm used to driving Hondas and Toyotas that never seem to quite get the brake thing right). Tight steering (not sporty), Handles bumps well (Not as smooth as the Toyota Avalon...but the difference wasn't worth the extra $4k). Accelerates very nicely and shifts very, very smoothly. It also has E-Shift if I feel like doing a quick downshift to pass cars or just let my lead foot drop.
Very comfortable leather (its summer right now, but can't wait to test out the heated seats). Lots of cabin room (we needed lots of cabin room in the back seat with two kids and car seats). The Azera has more cabin space than the Mercedes C Class and BMW 7 Series. Lots of features on the dash....the illuminating lights could be appointed better (I think I counted 5 different colors of lights on the dashboard). The biggest complaint we have in the interior is that the radio controls on the steering wheel do not allow you to change CD Tracks or Radio Stations. This is a big drag. It sounds minor, but its a drag. Additionally, there is a little wind noise at high speeds, but around town this car is very quiet in the cabin.
Additionally, this car is packed with amenities such as: auto-retracting rear-shade screen, one-touch sunroof, Infiniti Sound system (with CD and Tape Deck!!), Auto-Regulated Dual Zone A/C, Rear A/C, Memory Seats, Adjustable Pedals, Rain-Sensing Windshield Wipers, Folding Side Mirrors, 17" wheels, Micheline Tires, 263 Horsepower, and more airbags and interior lights than you know what to do with.
This is a great car. It took us a while to get over the idea that we were actually buying a Hyundai...but in the end, we are 'value' shoppers and this is the best deal on the market. Hands down. The quality of ride, ameneties and value packed into the Azera make this the wisest choice for a value-minded person.
Normally "value" implies "sacrifice." Not with the Azera. In this case, Value means that you are getting MORE than what you are paying for.
Our final decision on which quote and dealer to go with came down to color, availability and convenience. I don't think the dealer that quoted us the lower quote price had the car we wanted and we would have had to wait 2-3 days. We didn't have the time to wait. I think if we would have waited, we might have gotten a car for around $25,850, but I think that is about the floor............
Our final deal was: (I'm in Southern California)
$26,200 + Tax Title and License
I paid $28,700 out the door.
Edmund's Discussion Threads (A Must Read for Shoppers)
Motor Trend Road Test (Compare Azera vs Avalon vs Passat)