New Hyundai Azera Review
Hyundai has carved out a very nice niche for itself, providing consumers with quality vehicles at affordable prices.
With the release of the Azera full-size near luxury sedan, they are serving notice that they truly want to compete at the high end of the midsize market.
Hyundai have tried before with the XG300 back in 2000 and the previous model of the Azera. Both were a sign that Hyundai was ready to compete, without really making an impact, but that might all be about to change.
Tom Murphy, executive editor, Wards Auto World magazine described the previous version of the Azera as decent, but lacking in style. He went on to say that the new Azera addresses all the issues that troubled the older model.
He praised the folks at the Hyundai design studio who he feels did more than anyone to add a touch of flash and sizzle to the new Azera. Murphy also said that he believed that addition of premium materials sows that Hyundai has what it takes to compete at the luxury level.
Wards went as far as to name the Azera in its10 Best Interiors list for 2012. The interior will be familiar to those that have driven other Hyundai models, thanks to the wraparound twin-cockpit design.
The major difference in the Hyundai Azera is the addition of soft-touch padding and faux carbon fiber around the center console and seat controls.
The interior boasts a ton of space, with ample leg room for all 4 passengers. There is added comfort for all with the addition of heated leather seats, front and rear.
Passengers in front can choose ventilated seats and rear passenger can use side window shades and a power rear screen to block out the sun. The interior is protected by nine standard air bags.
The all-new Hyundai Azera is loaded with technology, with standard features such as navigation, rearview camera and Bluetooth hands-free phone system with voice recognition.
SiriusXM Satellite Radio, HD radio and USB input for MP3 players. On top of that, Hyundai have enabled their Blue Link telematics platform in all the cars so that voice activation can be used for a number of features.
Hyundai have always said that the “Fluidic Sculpture” design concept was inspired by “the mechanics of flight,” and that is clearly visible on the current Hyundai Azera.
The side profile in particular is a joy to behold, flowing from the chrome grille, through the steeply raked hood and arching roofline. It has the look of a pricy version of the Sonata, which may very well be the intention of the automaker.
It’s not the only comparison being made in the style, with many believing that the sculpture of the rear fenders gives the Azera the look of a late 50’s classic American muscle car.
There is power hidden underneath all that style, driven by a 3.3L V6 that generates 293 horsepower at a high-revving 6400 rpm and 255 lb.-ft. of torque at 5200 rpm. That sort of power is one that virtually guarantees a fun ride for the driver.
The car comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic and delivers a very impressive 20/29 mpg city/hwy.
Out on the street, Hyundai Azera drives the way it looks: like a larger Sonata. It’s a smooth ride over the majority of road surfaces, although the Azera does feel a little unsettled over rougher terrain. That may not appeal to comfy car lovers, but that would be a little too picky given that most road surfaces are relatively smooth.
The steering on the Azera is nice and is aided by electronic stability control, traction control ABS with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution. While the Azera is not marketed as a sports car, there are times when it drives pretty close to one.
This version of the Hyundai Azera has clearly been designed to serve notice to some of Hyundai’s biggest competitors in this category: Buick LaCrosse, Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima and Lexus ES350, and perhaps even Toyota Avalon, Acura TL, Volkswagen Passat and upcoming 2014 Chevy Impala.
It’s a busy market in the full-size “near luxury” segment, but with the Azera, Hyundai might just be able to make some noise.