May
15

As luck would have it, the Consumer Guide test fleet contains both a 2013 Hyundai Azera and a 2013 Hyundai Sonata Limited this week. The former is Hyundai’s entry into the “near luxury” large-car segment; it competes against the Chevrolet Impala, Kia Cadenza, and Toyota Avalon. The latter is the ritziest trim level of Hyundai’s mainstream midsize car. We thought it would be enlightening to examine these stablemates side-by-side to see exactly what the Azera delivers over the Sonata.

Our Azera tester is essentially loaded. It’s equipped with the $4,000 Technology Package, which includes high-end features such as a panoramic sunroof, Infinity audio system, HID headlights, rear park assist, and power rear sunshade with manual side sunshades. The total sticker price? $37,225.

Our Sonata Limited is technically not the true top-of-the-line model—it has the 198-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, not the available 274-hp turbocharged 2.0 four. However, it is otherwise loaded. It’s equipped with the $2,900 Premium Package, which adds a panoramic sunroof, navigation system with backup camera, and Infinity audio system. Its sticker price checks in at $29,655. (The 2.0 Turbo version adds 18-inch wheels in place of 17s and tacks on another $1,750 to the bottom line.)

After a thorough comparison, we concluded that the Azera offers enough of an upgrade in pretty much every category to justify its $7,570 price premium—and that both cars offer a pretty good value for the money. Our walk-around photos highlight the basic differences, but the “luxury gap” between the two is more apparent in person . . . and also behind the wheel, where the Azera’s smooth V6 outshines the Sonata’s 4-cylinder.

The Sonata Limited comes standard with 17-inch wheels . . .

. . . while the Azera sports 19-inchers when equipped with the Technology Package. (Base Azeras wear 18s.)

The Sonata is one of the more rakishly styled mainstream midsize sedans, but . . .

. . . the Azera’s swoopy rear-end styling, with “full-width” taillights and integrated dual-exhaust outlets, gives it a more upscale look.

The Sonata is 189.8 inches long overall, riding on a 110-inch wheelbase.

Compared to the Sonata, the Azera rides a 2-inch-longer wheelbase and is 3.5 inches longer overall. The larger platform helps Azera trump the Sonata in cargo room: 18.5 cubic inches vs. 16.4.

The Sonata’s rear legroom maxes out at 34.6 inches . . .

. . . while the Azera offers 36.8 inches. The difference isn’t apparent in these photos, but the Azera does feel more spacious. Plus, its leather upholstery feels significantly richer and higher quality than the Sonata’s.

The Sonata’s dashboard layout is classy and functional, but some of the plastics are a bit drab compared to the Azera.

The Azera dashboard boasts better trim all around, with satin-finish accents and superior detailing. Lots of little touches, such as a felt-covered glovebox and console bin, cooled seats, and HID reading lights in the overhead console, add up to an appreciably more luxurious interior.

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