For most people who want a bigger vehicle, their thoughts turn automatically to a crossover.
But for a certain number of buyers, what they want is a sedan. Most of these people have already had a full-sized sedan, so they already know what they're getting and want it.
For those who haven't had them, they miss some serious facts. Primary among these is that they carry four — or even five — people in comfort, and there's room in the trunk for their baggage. Functionally the biggest difference is that the seating position is lower than a crossover, since crossovers either are trucks or are designed to look like one.
I found it telling when a limo driver told me they didn't really like the large, expensive, full-sized truck-based sports utility vehicle. While it had more-than-enough room for any group of travelers' luggage, his customers frequently told him they didn't want a truck when they asked for a limo.
Since most people who use limo services are either affluent or on their company's dime, it seems strange — as statistically, many of these people have large sport utes in their driveways. Evidently, for them a car equals class and perhaps the ute represents luxurious capability.
So for those who are attracted to cars that can carry their share of the world, the Hyundai Azera somewhat invaded a space held dear by Buick and Toyota, causing a ruckus in senior centers across America, as that age group was certainly the largest customer group of full-sized cars.
But now there were several more non-luxury full-sized cars and that caused the segment to broaden its appeal. People who wouldn't even know where to look for a full-sized car were seeing them in the showrooms of the very popular Sonatas — and buying them.
What they were getting was a 193.7-in. car riding on a 112.0-inch wheelbase. It is also 73.2 inches wide. This makes it about the size – although shorter – than a full-sized sports ute, leaving on the large sports utes for those who really need the room. Naturally they have to be willing to pay for it, as these large trucks may, if drive quite carefully, get 15 mpg.
That's because they are powered by a large V8 engine, the last place they are being used except in performance cars. The Azera gets pushed down the road by a 3.3-liter direct-injected V6 engine. It is generating 293-hp. and 255 lb.-ft. of peak torque flowing through a Hyundai-developed six-speed automatic transmission. This allows it to be rated by the EPA at 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.
But they might have also seen another, even larger, full-sized car, this time a luxury model. The Hyundai Genesis has a six-inch longer wheelbase at 118.5 in. to hold up a car that's 196.5-in. long. Even this car, while larger and full of luxury features does fine at the gas pump compared to a sport ute.
Its power is delivered by a 3.8-liter direct-injected V6 engine utilizes direct-injection and produces 311 hp. and 293 lb.-ft. of peak torque. That power goes through a Hyundai-developed eight-speed automatic transmission. It is rated at 18 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, although the all-wheel drive version costs you dropping the mileage to 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.
In both cases the usable space of the car's interior and cargo space isn't far off that of that full-sized ute. That's because a lot of the space in a truck-based ute is above people's head. Also few people actually use the cargo space in the rear that's above the top of the seat back – which is a very smart thing to do as they become lethal objects in a crash as the head to the front of the vehicle with serious amounts of kinetic energy.
It should be noted that the Genesis will quit being the Hyundai Genesis this summer and turn into one of the cars under the Genesis brand. This is because the Koreans are doing what the Japanese did with the Acura, Lexis and Infiniti and creating a luxury brand. This car will be called the G80, although the only difference will be the badging, as Hyundai puts together four vehicles to be called various models of the Genesis.
There are plenty of features that people want on these sedans. The Azera may not have everything that its big brother has, but it is completive with anything it competes with in terms of features.
For example, the driver's seat includes a seat cushion extension and the memory settings control the seat, steering wheel column and side mirrors, and even the climate and seat temperature are controlled. For those with challenging garage doors, power-folding side mirrors are standard on all Azeras.
One of the coolest features of both the Azera and the Genesis is the illuminated door sill plates which place a pool of light on the ground at the door. Plus, its useful to see what you are about to step into as you get into your car.
Philosophically Hyundai focuses on interior details, because that's what's most important to these customers (if not all customers). There is a huge optional panoramic sunroof. You can also get heated front and rear seats, dual automatic temperature control, second row air vents, and cooled glove box, all standard.
An eight-inch touch-screen navigation system with integrated backup camera is standard, as well as an Infinity 550-watt, Logic7 Surround Sound premium audio system with 14 speakers, including an eight-inch subwoofer and external amplifier.
The system plays compact discs, digital music files through Bluetooth or allows driver and passengers to access their personal listening devices through the iPod and USB/auxiliary inputs. Bluetooth wirelessly streams music from select mobile phones to the head unit.
The Bluetooth phone connection will transfer your phonebook and uses both voice-recognition within the car, but if you hold the voice button in for more than a second your iPhone will have Siri speak up and obey your commands through the car's system.
You can also opt for a power rear sunshade and manual rear side window shades. The side shades, not found on any other car in the Azera's segment, can be conveniently tucked away when not in use. Just so you know, these become a favorite of grandchildren of any age. Both the Genesis and Azera off Hyundai's Hands-free Smart Trunk opener. When it's locked, stand in front of it for three seconds and it automatically opens.
Azera has a decent suite of safety features. For example, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist is standard on all Azeras.
On the Limited models you also get lane-departure warning helps. Add to this, automatic high beam, collision warning and Hyundai's vehicle stability management manages the electronic stability control. Naturally the anti-lock brakes use brake assist for maximum braking force in a panic stop. Electronic brake-force distribution adjusts the braking force to front and rear axles based on the vehicle's load conditions. There is even an electronic parking brake on the Azera Limited. All this and more come on the Genesis.
A final difference is the price. The Azera's MSRP is $34,100, and the Genesis begins life at $38,750. While both of these are full-sized cars, they appeal to different groups. I would also be remiss if I didn't point out that cars aren't selling nearly as well as crossovers and trucks, so what you actually pay could be seriously less as dealers want to get cars off their lots.
Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, I just spent my own money to buy a Genesis.
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