2007 Hyundai Azera: 2 AZ
April 21, 2007
We had Friday off this week apparently in observance of Earth Day (that's not a joke), although it's hard not to think it's really because of another holiday that happens on 4/20 (that is). Either way, I decided to pay my parents a visit in Phoenix to say hello and to check that they haven't turned my bedroom into an indoor driving range or something. I had a few choices for my 300-mile journey. I immediately nixed our brand-spanking new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited since I was planning on driving their via roads, not on the "dodging Saguaros" off-road desert trek route. After several a few minutes of pondering and intense discussion with Keymaster Mike Schmidt, I chose the Azera over the Audi Q7. It was Earth Day after all and I figured Mother Nature would appreciate the 8 to 10 additional mpgs. I also hadn't driven the Hyundai yet.
As I set out through Los Angeles, I immediately discovered that water was falling from the sky. Isn't that weird? From the faucett, sure, from a sprinkler head, definitely. But from the sky, what sorcery is this? Either way, I found the "wind shield wipers" as they are called in the Hyundai manual, and discovered their automatic function worked quite well. Making my way through the concrete jungle listening to Frosty, Heidi & Frank discussing 4/20 and Alec Baldwin, I began to notice how surprisingly uncomfortable the Azera's driver seat is. I figured it would have cushy, Buick-like buckets with tons of legroom and posterior enveloping foam. But the seat doesn't travel back far enough, nor the high enough for a lanky dude like me. I felt like I was sitting on top of the interior, which is great for visibility, but makes the full-size Azera feel like a compact. Worse, there is an odd pressure point in the upper back rest, almost like sleeping on a bar in a pull-out couch. I just couldn't get comfortable enough, which I definitely wasn't expecting from a vehicle that competes with the Toyota Avalon, Chrysler 300 and Ford Five Hundred or Taurus or LTD or whatever the heck they're calling it this week.
Nevertheless, the Azera is a pretty good road trip car. I was expecting a rather floaty barge, but discovered a well-connected car that felt more like a midsize. The engine is plenty powerful, the interior very quiet and the materials top-notch. It really feels like you're in a previous generation Lexus -- the HVAC controls are dead ringers. I do find it odd, though, that the white/blue electroluminescent gauges contrast with the green lighting elsewhere (pictured). I shall have more observances after the trip back, including the audio system and the trunk's ability to carrying three loads of laundry.
Have a Happy Earth Day, and remember that each of us can make a big difference.
James Riswick, Associate Editor @ 10,860 miles