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What is your take on the latest Hyundai Azera?

Posted by John Paul  April 17, 2012 09:51 AM

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Q. I just read about the latest Hyundai Azera in one of the buff-books and it looked pretty good. Have you driven it and what is your take on this car? At one time it seemed people purchased a Hyundai because of price and warranty, are they truly good cars?

A. I have driven many Hyundai models and even own a Sante Fe and found the cars to good, practical vehicles, that offer a good value for the money. I recently drove the 2012 Azera and in addition to its good looks, the car rode well, handled well and had plenty of power from the 3.3 liter V-6 engine. In addition, when I was driving the car, fuel economy never dropped below 20 mpg and typically averaged about 24 miles per gallon. Add this to Lexus “like” features all for a price in the mid-thirties the Azera in my opinion is a winner.

Q. I have a 1992 Toyota Camry, purchased new, regularly maintained and it now 75,500 miles. The car has new alternator, water pump, radiator, and battery within the past year. The car now needs struts and front brakes at a cost of $2,000. Should I spend the money on repairs or buy another car? I can’t afford a new car so it would have to be a used car, what do you think?

A. Although the car is 20 years old it has very low mileage. If the car is otherwise mechanically and structurally sound I would consider keeping the car and having the repairs performed. If budget is an issue, repair the brakes first. The struts are more of a comfort than safety item. Unless the struts are broken, in my opinion the replacement can wait.

Q. We have a 2005 Nissan Altima (72000 miles) and a 2004 Chevy Impala (92000). Both are in excellent running condition and look great. Now that we are both retired and living on Cape Cod and we only need one car. We have decided to purchase a new car and start our retirement off in style. Are we better off trading in both cars on a new vehicle or to sell one of the cars to a separate dealer who buys used cars outright? I can't help thinking that by trading in both cars we won't get a fair overall trade in value. We are looking at crossovers and our list contains the Equinox, Honda CRV, Hyundai Santa Fe or Kia Sorento, any preference? Do you feel that AWD is really needed on these cars? Since we are retired there will be no urgency to go out in any snow storms.

A. Congratulations on your retirement. Regarding the trade in price, do your homework ahead of time to determine the typical trade-in value of the two cars. One advantage is the price of both cars will come off the cost of the new car, reducing your sales tax liability. Regarding your next car purchase, the Sante Fe has proven to be a great vehicle (due to be replaced soon), the latest CR-V is quite good, but can be a little buzzy on the highway, the Sorento like the Hyundai is good, but the ride is firmer than the Sante Fe. Finally the Equinox offers a very good value and fuel economy but the rear cargo space is a little narrow and at least for me there are some annoying blind spots. As for all-wheel-drive, it adds a margin of safety in poor weather and helps with resale value. There are almost no bad cars anymore; some are just better designed than others. Drive them all and find that both you and your wife will find most comfortable.

Q. I have a 2000 Maxima SE with 146,500 miles, and the service engine soon light comes on and off intermittently. The mechanic tells me the codes indicate catalytic converter failure. Estimates to repair have been between $1,700-$2,200 dollars. I lucked out this past April and the light went off and I was able to get an inspection sticker. Since then, it has come off and on several times. If it's the converters, should I repair the Maxima or trade it in? I like the car and it runs great, but it is going to need tires.

A. It is entirely possible the catalytic convertors are starting to fail. To bring the cost of the repairs down, you could look at an aftermarket convertor. This will be much cheaper than the Nissan part, but be aware that some aftermarket catalytic convertors have been problematic. Work with your repair shop to ensure that the replacement convertor will work properly.

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