Welcome to Car Fight, the comparison test with no basis for comparison. In this edition, we join Editor-In-Chief Bertel Schmitt and Editor-at-Large Ed Niedermeyer in sunny Southern California, where they’re arguing over which sedan makes a better $35k-ish commuter chariot, the 2012 Hyundai Azera or the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Niedermeyer: Well, Bertel… you asked for it. You were the one who thought your overpriced, buzzy little hybrid could take on my BuickBimBap on the uncompromising streets of L.A. You picked this Car Fight, and now you’re going to lose.

Let’s be clear: you’re pitting a midsized sedan with some overly-complex gubbins against a purpose-built, full-sized cruising machine. My V6 has nearly 100 horsepower on your hybrid. I could chauffeur three NFL linemen in comfort, you’d be hard-pressed to accommodate more than three cheerleaders. Oh, and did I mention that my car features the best application yet of Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” design language, while yours has… hybrid badges?

Sure, my Azera is a few grand more expensive, and no, it doesn’t get hybrid fuel economy, but this is no contest. Just admit that you wish you’d asked Toyota for an Avalon and lets be done with this.

Schmitt: Three NFL linemen? My ride has space for four Japanese cheerleaders. Actually, more, but I don’t want to be pulled over with a car full of lithe ladies. Lose weight, or lose money at the pump, as your kimchee-kruiser demonstrates. I drove my cheerleaders from L.A. to San Diego and back, and I still had half a tank. I bet they gave your car that “fluid” design because of how quickly fuel flows in that thing.

Have a look at this: With a bunch of cheerleaders in the car, and going down I5 with the A/C on full blast – those cheerleaders are hot – the mpg was a little shy of 40. Some hypermiler before me had 46.7 mpg. Probably driving alone. It’s lonely at the top.

And yours? No wonder they hide this god awful mileage deep in the instrument clutter of the Azera. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself, Ed? Do you hate polar bears?

And what’s that? An anatomically correct exhaust pipe? You car is sucking gas so quick it can’t even digest it properly. Give it up, Niedermeyer. I’ll buy my cheerleaders sushi while you head to the gas station. You will give up after you see the bill.

Niedermeyer: …

Schmitt (a week later:): Ed? Hello? Hello?

Niedermeyer: … 

Schmitt (yet another week later:): Ed? Eeeeeeeeeeehed?

No answer. Ed must be speechless.

I am forced to finish this car fight single-handedly. It’s too bad, because there is one area where Ed could have gained points. And that is …

The trunk.

Measured using TTAC’s new (and for all reviewers mandatory) trunksizing metrics, the Hyundai Azera  has trunkspace big enough for one overweight editor-in-chief plus three spooning cheerleaders, American. (Cheerleaders not in picture, they ran away.)

The Camry trunk on the other hand only has room for one skinny editor-at-large, end even that is a bit cramped. Azera 4, Camry 1. But then, if you need to lug around all that junk in the trunk, get a truck.

Finally, the coupe de grace: The talking navigation systems.

Sure, both struggled with Los Angeles and the chore of pronouncing “continue on South Sepulveda Blvfftbr… then make a right onto  West Cen-tineeeeela Avbzzt.” The Camry however has a nice human voice that seems to have charming pronunciation problems. The Azera has a computer voice straight from Mars.

Too bad that yellowbelly Ed went AWOL and is unable to defend his ride.

I felt great in mine. Prepared for a pokey hybrid, I was pleasantly surprised by the on-ramp prestige the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid delivers. After one week in the car, I had fallen in love with it, and I was sad to see it go.

If you have the extra $$$$ for the Azera and the gas station attendant, with whom you will become quite familiar, by all means, go for it. If not, take the hybrid Camry.

The 2012 Hyundai Azera was supplied by Hyundai with a full tank of gas. It was delivered to the airport by a rather attractive attendant, dressed all black with pink accents.

Prudent Toyota handed over the keys to the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid on their parking lot. Adhering to Japanese customs, the car was returned with a full tank of gas. After one week, it cost Bertel $39.50

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39 Comments on “Car Fight: Hyundai Azera v.v. Toyota Camry Hybrid, Niedermeyer v.v. Schmitt...”

  • avatar

    Four Japanese cheerleaders? Pics or it didn’t happen. And they had to be in cheerleader outfit, otherwise you might’ve just round up four random Asians on the street…

    As for Ed disappearing from the review before it’s finished, well, he’s called an “editor at large” after all…

    I bet in the first picture Bertel was saying “Respect your elder!”

  • avatar

    The new Car Talk?

  • avatar

    Fallen in love with a Camry? Hoo boy… You’re going to feel that one in the morning…

  • avatar

    So we’re clear, then: the Camry hybrid gets better mileage than the Azera but is smaller. Did I miss anything?

  • avatar

    The only thing I take away is that Herr Schmitt looks exactly as my mind imagined.

  • avatar

    Once I’m dropping $35K on a car, the notion of worrying about gas mileage seems odd.

    If I really was shopping for a well-made, loaded, comfy car I’d probably look for grandpa & grandma’s privately-sold, second-hand, garage-queen Lexus, Avalon, Acura RL or similar.

    Between these two, I’d take the Hyundai; hybrids are a feelgood fad.

    • 0 avatar

      If we assume that people have a finite amount of money, they have to pick and choose where to spend it. The more they spend in one area, the less is available for others.

      Most millionaires live ordinary lives–drive reasonable cars, clip coupons, etc. People who live like millionaires don’t stay millionaires. There is never a good time to disregard how fast money leaves your wallet. I understand spending more to get a nice car that you genuinely want. I don’t understand why getting what I want means I shouldn’t want other things as well (things that could have been had with the extra money spent on gas).

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed on both points.

    • 0 avatar

      Hybrids are a feelgood fad? The Camry Hybrid is less than 3 grand more expensive than the similarly loaded 2.5L model and it has noticeably better power and mileage. I fail to see how better power and better mileage for under 3 grand (which would be recouped if you sold it anyway) makes for a fad. The only reason the Camry in this article is in the same price class is because it has every possible option ticked off, the Hybrid XLE starts at a much more reasonable 27500

  • avatar

    kimchee kruiser lmao


  • avatar

    My apologies to Bertel, TTAC’s readers and Hyundai for failing to fully defend the Azera in this, TTAC’s first Car Fight. What can I say, I’ve been swamped with my current job lately… as much as I enjoy working here at TTAC, I owe my full attention to the guy signing my paychecks.

    Luckily, the main points have been covered: the Azera returned 19-23 MPG in a week of full-attack LA driving, so it can’t touch the Camry Hybrid and is definitely going to ding Hyundai’s fleet-average fuel economy. On the other hand, I was surprised to find how much fun such a large car could be on back roads in the Santa Monica Mountains… it’s definitely a better steer than the LaCrosse, and almost certainly better than the Toyota. Unfortunately, interior/ride refinement wasn’t the overwhelming improvement over the Camry I expected.

    I’ll concede this Car Fight… but I’d like to see the Azera take on the V6 Passat someday. Perhaps someone on TTAC’s staff who isn’t chest-deep in a book, among other projects, could make that happen?

    • 0 avatar

      Ed, can you elaborate about the ride refinement?

      (And needless to say, Bertel, can you elaborate about the four cheerleaders in the back seat?)

      • 0 avatar

        Wind/road noise and ride quality came in below my expectations for a car that, as Karesh points out, is obviously aimed at the Lexus. The ride quality was particularly underwhelming on LA’s rough freeways, although as mentioned before, the surprisingly-satisfying handling does make up for (or at least explains) this. On the other hand, my benchmark is the LaCrosse (rather than Camry), which has a plusher ride and a quieter cabin… although it’s less fun to drive and is not as nicely-appointed as the Azera.

    • 0 avatar

      For me, the Azera has a much more upscale look and feel than the Passat. It’s aiming for Lexus, the Passat isn’t. The Hyundai also looks very current, while the Passat’s styling could be from 1995. In its favor, the Passat has better steering and a better ride on iffy roads.

  • avatar

    “Adhering to Japanese customs, the car was returned with a full tank of gas. ”

    Adhering to my personal customs, there’s enough gas in the tank left to get the folks from the fleet mgmt company to the nearest gas station. I do warn them that it’s low on gas and apologize. Unfortunately, as Derek pointed out in his “so you want to be an autojourno” post, doing car reviews online is not particularly renumerative so you have to keep your costs low.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Camry offers better value, reliability and resale value as well.

    • 0 avatar

      Better value is debatable and we don’t yet know the reliability of the two.

      As for resale value, the cheaper Camry will do better, but with the incentive spending and fleet sales Toyota has been doing these days, the diff. will not be as great as in the past.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        We don’t know the reliability of the Camry Hybrid, I beg to differ, these Hybrids have been out long enough and they’re reliable as the regular Camry, Azera should be as good as the Sonata, which is not as good as the Camry.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I know which one I would rather have been flogging down I40 today (Albuquerque to Gallup). Gimme the V6 and the hp.

    Of course I only had one woman with me – a Latin/Navajo/Asian fusion – but that was plenty enough for me. ;)

  • avatar

    Substitute “Japanese girls in schoolgirl uniforms, white blouses, plaid skirts, calf-high white socks, patent-leather shoes, and kerchiefs” for the cheerleaders. Now we are all on the same page.

  • avatar

    If you pit two cars against each other, what is the criteria on which they’re judged? Is this about which is a better commuter/business car? If so, the mileage, reliability, & other costs are most important. Space only matters if others will be in the car, and a trunk larger than what you need to put in there adds little value.

    On the other hand, it the purpose of the car is to take the family on vacation and have a good time, the criteria may be totally different.

    Also, I’ve never seen “v.v.” as the abbreviation for “versus.” Where does it come from?

  • avatar

    Seems the the only test that counts will be a 3-way between the new Avalon, Azera, and LaCrosse. I doubt that anyone will cross shop an Azera vs. a Camry.

    I have two kids, and based on their height now, legroom will become an ever-more-important criteria. I have tested too many cars that have insufficient legroom.

  • avatar


    Gimme the Azera. In fact, put the R-spec’s engine in it.

  • avatar

    I don’t know of anyone who selects a car based on the voice recognition toy.

  • avatar

    Being that I lived in LA for a brief period in 2002 so when you wrote about the SAT-NAV voice, recognized where you two were.

    I lived with friends in a huge 2 bedroom apt at the crux of Supulveda, Centenela and Slauson Ave in Culver City and had the 405 freeway nearby and across the freeway overpass is the the Promenade at the Howard Hughes Center.

    An interesting review none the less.

  • avatar

    “If you have the extra $$$$ for the Azera and the gas station attendant, with whom you will become quite familiar, by all means, go for it.”

    So what you’re saying is – if you have money for a full-sized, entry level luxury car, then buy one.

    That…. that’s great.

  • avatar

    The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid gets the best MPG of all the sedan hybrids out there right now. 44 Highway, 47 city. Beats the Camry Hybrid. I find it intriguing that Ford has outdone Toyota with this car.

    • 0 avatar

      Yet people will buy the Toyota over the Ford because…. well, because they were told to.*

      *please find an argument, I beg of you – reliability is a myth, cost, features, etc have been a level playing field for half a decade or more, etc.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, let’s see… Suppose I am looking at this class of car.

        First, while I’m impressed with Ford’s numbers (beating Toyota on anything hybrid is cause for congratulations), I’ll wait and see what the pricing is like (cost/feature ratios in hybrids were just demolished by Toyota, nor have I seen Ford Fusion hybrid pricing). I’ll also wait and see what the real-world fuel economy turns out to be. You can ace the EPA test and still deliver uninspiring real-world performance (Equinox vs Honda comes to mind).

        Toyotas are, still, typically scoring better on reliability than Ford. Take your pick: JDP, CR, TrueDelta. Quality is a result of the practices of an organization and its priorities. Good quality follows good practices and high priority. If I value reliability (oh, wait, I do), it’s points to Toyota.

        Having owned some Toyotas for a decade and having some relatively recent Ford ownership experience, I’m in a position to judge the local dealership situation. Toyota treats me better than Ford and takes better care of my car. The Toyota service department acts like they want my business, the Ford service department acted like my car was a big pain in the ass (which, actually, was exactly how I felt about it) and that they’d be happier if I went away (job done on that). If I like the way I’m treated at Toyota, it’s point to Toyota.

        Then there’s the ‘safe choice’ idea. I’m happy with a Toyota, why would I switch to a vehicle and a dealer that I don’t know?

        Now, just who “told” me to buy a Toyota? And, yet, I probably would.

        Detroit is just going to have to win market share the old-fashioned way, TuffJuff… they must earn it.

  • avatar

    I would choose the LA or Dallas Cheerleaders. You might only get three in the car, but with those long legs doing a high kicks, who cares.

  • avatar

    Thats funny, my local Toyota and Ford dealer is the exact opposite. The Toyota dealer is like a hungry arrogant shark. There cars are over priced, the service sucks and they act as if they are doing you a favor. Worse if you want to test drive one of there Toyos they look at you like your crazy and one sale guy actually came out and said “why do you need to test drive it, that Camry is the best there is period” The Ford dealer right across the street is the exact opposite. Courteous, let you test drive the car with no pressure, the service department is second to none and better yet the products they sell in many ways are superior such as the F-150 vs the lackluster Tundra, the Fusion vs the boring Camry, the Focus vs the outdated tinny Corolla etc.

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