Review: 2012 Hyundai Azera (vs. LaCrosse and Taurus)

Posted on 29. May, 2012 by in Auto News

Derek capsule review of the 2012 Hyundai Azera car gave a resounding "meh". My own impressions were not quite as positive, but then something happened: I test drove the Buick LaCrosse and refreshed 2013 Ford Taurus. Suddenly a $ 37,000 Super Sonata did not go to such a bad way.

(NB Photos of the lacrosse and bull are in the gallery below)

At first glance, the new Azera looks like the LaCrosse. The current fashion in semi-premium semi-large front-wheel-drive sedans pairs a high, rounded front clip with a roofline that sweeps clean one all the way from a point far ahead of the driver near the trailing edge of an even higher tailgate . Despite the rear fender, the coils recall late '50s American iron, the Azera is the sleekest and most athletic of the bunch proportioned (LaCrosse, 2013 Avalon, 2013 ES, 2013 MKZ). The Taurus? Compared to the others, it is a throwback to another era, were composed as limousines from three different boxes. The Azera has. Also a strong resemblance to the Sonata (and even the Elantra), but looks correspondingly larger and more expensive

The Azera the interior is not quite grown that the Lexus ES. Compared with the Buick and Ford, but the Azera is a clear step (or three) up. Everything within the large Hyundai looks and feels tight and precise. The leather on the seats has a soft, luxurious hand. Within the Ford display the materials and secondary controls and feel clunky in comparison. The 2013 refresh adds MyFord Touch complete with reconfigurable instruments, but otherwise left untouched the interior largely. Ford of Europe apparently had no role in this. Inside the Buick, the dash-to-door fit abysmal and the material used to form the doors and dashboard does not look like enough to pull out the embedded leather stitching (at least not tan in the tested). The Buick faux wood is even less convincing. The interior impressed just a few years ago, but now a Hyundai surpasses it.

Functionally, the Azera has not cut quite as well. The piano-black plastic knob is hot in the sun. The Benz-like seat-shaped seat controls are too far forward on the doors. The busy center console buttons for the main audio and HVAC functions, which would work much easier with pimples. (No, that's a gigantic volume control is not sufficient compensation.)

The least aspect of Hyundai: the view from the front of the driver's seat. The rake and the position of the windshield give a header, which is too narrow for comfort. Dashboard flows upwards through a cumbersome running rib on the base of the windscreen. The rear edge of the hood is even higher, so that the driver's seat you can see little elevated above the undersides of its corners. Pulling into a parking space contains far too much guesswork. (Forward obstacle detection would be very helpful, but is not available.) Trimming an inch off the hood rel would work wonders. But the Azera seems the only small window until you drive one of the other. The Buick has a deeper dashboard and what must be the widest A-pillars in sedandom. Ford, nine inches longer, three inches wider and three inches taller, but no more space in the passenger seat, feels like a massive bunker on wheels.

If you positioned from the front headrests (I) have disturbed the Azera, the front seats are comfortable and supportive. Those who revel in the Buick and Ford smaller, less luxurious and less tailored. The rear seat of the Azera, like the Buick, is ideal for large numbers of people who have most of their relative in their legs. Despite much greater outside the Fords, it has much less room for the rear passengers to stretch. But it has the largest luggage space, 20 cubic feet of the 16 Azera In this last area, the LaCrosse is the clear loser in V6 form. The eAssist the 10-cube trunk could be a deal-killer.

Most cars in this class are motivated by 3.5-or 3.6-liter V6 engines. The 2011 Azera spread the standard and offers both a 260-hp 3.3 and a 283-hp 3.8. For 2012, the 3.8 for the rear-drive Genesis reserved, but styled the 3.3 direct injection gets a bump to 293 hp and a cover, so they mounted longitudinally (also on the right side of the center). Hyundai motors generally underperformed their specs, but paired with a six-speed automatic that. 3.3 feels sufficiently torquey off the line Inspired over 4,000 rpm it moves much faster and the large sedan sounds much more upscale than the Sonata turbo four in the process. The Buick V6 and Ford are about as fast, but the latter is much less refined in sound and feel. (I drove the Buick with eAssist time is woefully sluggish for a $ 30,000 + car Combine this with the little master, and I'm surprised they do not sell …) My biggest gripe with the Hyundai Power: power development sometimes including the kind of surges and weighs more often seen with a stronger engine.

With the smallest engine and low curb weight of the Azera offers the best fuel economy of the three: 20 city 29 highway vs. 17/27 for the Buick and 19/29 for the bull. The big Hyundai board computer reported slightly better numbers in my driving style, low twenties in the suburbs and 31 run on the highway to the airport. Acceptable numbers, but not the company's best effort.

Hyundai has its greatest risk in ride quality. The Azera the suspension tuning, but not as aggressive as that of an Acura TL or Nissan Maxima, is feeling much stronger and firmer damping than in the Buick and especially the Ford On most streets, the Hyundai ride is smooth and composed, but on other, it sounds Thumpy and feels lumpy. The technology package of the lower profile 19-inch wheels, probably does not help. The suspension mainly struggles with expansion joints and other track-cross road imperfections. The Azera steering is heavier than the systems in the Buick and Ford (but a few degrees off-putting on the center-slack). These differences provide a more sporting driving experience? Relatively speaking, yes, but the end result feels close, but not quite there. I'd rather drive the Azera as the LaCrosse and Taurus, but it's no fun like a Maxima or TL can. (Granted, I tested TL had the unfair advantage of the SH-AWD and the Maxima had a sports package.). Unlike the Buick, Ford, Acura, is not the Azera with all-wheel drive

Derek had a big problem with wind noise. Maybe because my ears are older, I noticed only a little, near the windshield header at highway speeds. I noticed more road noise, but not much of it on most roads, either. There are quieter cars in the class, but the Hyundai is in the ballpark and generally oozes upscale sedan.

The cars tested 36,875 included $ List price the $ 4,000 Technology Package (19-inch wheels, large panoramic sunroof, xenon, amplified audio, cooled front seats with memory and thigh extension for the driver, umbrellas, cool blue interior ambient lighting, Rear obstacle detection). Pretty steep for a front-wheel-drive Hyundai, but very reasonable in comparison to competitors. Based on True Delta car price comparison tool, a similarly loaded LaCrosse is about $ 3,700. Longer before adjusting for feature differences and about $ 2,400 more then The bull seems out of place in this group, but it's about. Well with the Buick prices A Toyota Avalon is priced even higher. An Acura TL is about seven grand more than the Hyundai's (favor for feature differences for a $ 1,650 matching the Azera), and a Lexus ES 350 about eight.

But what about the Sonata? Why pay a lot more for a few more inches of wheelbase (all of which goes into rear legroom), a few more cylinders, an updated interior and chic styling? Well, you will not pay a lot more do not, at least if you live without the technology package panoramic sunroof and high-watt audio system. A Sonata 2.0T Limited with nav undercuts the otherwise similarly equipped base Azera by a mere $ 1,705.

The new Hyundai Azera is not perfect. It would be of a lower fairing, less intrusive headrests, more polished powertrain programming, less on the middle span benefit the steering behavior and a less lumpy ride. But it suffers mostly lower, so good in most ways that you might wonder why it is not a bit better. What direct competitor is actually better? Compared with the Buick LaCrosse and Ford Taurus, the Azera is superior in almost every respect. It is not as sporty as an Acura TL or Nissan Maxima, but it seems more upscale and luxury as well. It is not quite as luxurious as a Lexus ES, but it is also a Toyota price. If fact, there is not much more expensive than a loaded Sonata. Anyone considering one of these cars should also consider the Azera.

Carol Moran-Charron of Art Moran Buick in Southfield, MI, provided the LaCrosse. She can be reached at 248-353-9000.

Frank Cianciolo of Avis Ford in Southfield, MI, provided the Taurus. He can be reached at 248-226-2555.

Michael Karesh owns and operates True Delta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.