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Review: 2006 Hyundai Azera September 20, 2006

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in car reviews, Cars, Fun, Travel.
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By a pleasant twist of fate, I recently was upgraded from a Hyundai Accent to a Hundai Azera. Not having any clue about the Hyundai line, I didn’t know if I was being put into an SUV, a mid-size, or an uncomfortable econobox. Fortunately for me, the Azera is none of these.

azera_ext

When I got in, I was pleasantly surprised to find an all-leather interior, with a wood-trim steering wheel, independent climate controls for the driver and passenger, and a power sunroof. After turning the key and starting to familiarize myself with the controls, I discovered electronic traction control, adjustable front seat heaters, and an Infinity 10-speaker stereo with an in-dash, 6-disc CD changer.

OK. I think I can handle this upgrade.

azera_bs

Once I pulled out of the airport parking structure and eventually onto the entrance ramp for North I-93, it became obvious that Hyundai had invested heavily under the hood as well as under the roof. What seemed smooth, powerful, and strong as I merged onto the expressway turned out (after consulting Hyundai’s web site) to be a 263 HP powerplant with variable valve timing and some very solid engineering.

In a few miles, I had started piping music from my iPod into the stereo, had powered open the sunroof, and was enjoying a warm midnight drive through southern New Hampshire. As is frequently the case, I was surprised by a few incidents in traffic, and once had to hit the brakes hard.

I felt the familiar sensation of gravel under the pedal, signaling that ABS had engaged. The four-wheel disc brakes weren’t truly tested on this drive, but the pedal feel was solid and unsurprising.

I started to get this feeling though. It was a feeling of familiarity. “I’ve driven this car before,” I thought to myself. But where would I have done so?

azera_back

Over the next three days, I started to relish every chance I had to make a quick trip to the store, or a midnight run for some fast food. I had no idea what this car’s price range might be, but I strongly suspected it was higher than I would want to pay.

The back seat would have been perfect for taking along several large men, even with me in the driver’s seat. The picture above shows my overnight bag in the seat and my laptop in the rear footwells. This car has some serious interior space.

I had picked the car up on Sunday evening, and dropped it back off on Wednesday afternoon. I averaged 23 MPG in a mix of city and highway driving. I didn’t put a ton of miles on the car, but every mile I did drive was a pleasure.

Per the manufacturer’s site, this car comes with “America’s Best Warranty,” with 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage, 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage, and more. I would definitely recommend this car as a rental vehicle, and presuming that the warranty is as good as the site suggests, it’s probably a good choice as an alternative to an upscale sedan.

The base price is $24,335.

Oh… I remembered why this car felt familiar to me. Driving it reminded me of my ’97 Nissan Maxima. That’s pretty good praise for a car in this price range. Even more so, because I liked driving it even more than I enjoyed driving the Maxima.

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Comments»

1. ME - September 20, 2006

“The back seat would have been perfect for taking along several large men, even with me in the driver’s seat.”

Just wondering, why were you having thoughts of taking along several large men? LOL

2. Bonnie (One of Tim's Sisters) - September 20, 2006

It may have something to do with the fact that our father, both of my brothers, and all of their sons fall under the heading of “large men”. Must be that Viking thing.

3. Tim - September 20, 2006

I can see the bumper sticker now: “It’s a Viking thing. You wouldn’t understand. Arrrr!”

4. Marie (The other sister) - September 22, 2006

Try putting long blonde braids and a horned helmet on, and then we’ll believe the bumper sticker. Oh wait – that’s the large viking WOMEN!

5. Scott McKee - June 25, 2007

How did you hook up your ipod?

6. Tim - June 25, 2007

Scott,

I generally take along a Griffin FM converter, and a stereo mini-phone plug patch cord. In the Azera, I used the FM converter. – Tim

7. Tre Pryor - April 13, 2008

My favorite part of the Rental Car Experience is always the Smell Roulette. It’s akin to gambling, I know, but whenever I win, and by “win” I mean receiving a car who’s smell I am capable of enduring for up to 27 minutes, I always feel like a champion.

(That car was likely a “winner”… am I right?)

8. Tim - April 13, 2008

Tre,

You nailed that one, and “Smell Roulette” is such a apt description of the angst I feel as I first sit down in a rental. Being an ex-smoker, the worst kind of non-smoker, I’m hyper-sensitive to the aroma of stale cigarette smoke, which is the worst possible spin of the Smell Roulette wheel.

All,

I was reminded today of how completely hysterical my sisters are, as we had a good chunk of the clan together at our house. Let me assure everyone that my sisters are just as strange as I am. – Tim


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