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2006 Hyundai Azera SE Review

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2006 Hyundai Azera SE

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SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Hyundai


Model: Hyundai Azera SE
Engine: 3.8-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower/Torque: 263 hp @ 6000 rpm/255 lb.-ft. @ 4500 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic with Shiftronic
Wheelbase: 109.4 in.
Length x Width x Height: 192.7 x 72.8 x 58.7 in.
Tires: 225/60HR16
Cargo volume: 16.6 cu. ft.
Economy: 19 mpg city/ 28 mpg highway/18.7 mpg test
Price: $24,420 (includes $0 inland freight and handling charge)

From its BMW 5-Series-styled trunk lid to its cozy, spacious interior, the Hyundai Azera has a lot to offer. This is a very nice car at an extremely attractive price.

A neighbor noted that Hyundai has done its homework with the Azera, which replaces the XG350 as the flagship sedan of the Hyundai line this year. Azera qualifies as a midsize car and thus competes with the Camry, Accord and Ford Fusion, among others in a crowded field. While the field may be crowded, the interior of the Azera isn't. It's spacious and offers great comfort. Passengers sit in cloth-covered seats (in the SE; the Limited offers leather-faced seats), with excellent leg, head and shoulder room. Even rear seat passengers have excellent legroom. In fact, only the Chevy Malibu and discontinued Ford Taurus offer more rear legroom. Rear passengers also have separate HVAC controls.

For those of you, like me, who are addicted to caffeine, there are two cup holders up front and a pair in the rear in the pull-down armrest. Besides comfortable seating, the Azera adds interesting features that make it a pleasure to spend time in. For example, there's a nice shelf below the HVAC system in the center stack that can stow easy-to-reach objects. There's also a cubby and an ash tray at the bottom of the center stack. Ahead of the shifter is a small cell phone holder that's the right size for, well, cell phones. In the center is a deep console with a 12-volt outlet, with a matching outlet for rear passengers. And there are pockets in the doors with fold-our hard sides.

The center stack has a nice brushed aluminum finish to hide fingerprints. Even the visors have extensions in case you need extra sun protection. For entertainment, there's an interesting audio system that works fine once you figure out how it works. The HVAC system cooled the car quickly in some hot summer weather. Sorry, but I didn't check the heating part in the heat, but if it's as good as the cooling part, then there's nothing to worry about. Under the hood is a 263-horsepower double overhead cam V6 that delivers more than enough power for the Azera, which weighs just over 3,600 pounds. The engine is mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. We never had to use the shift mode in serious driving, but in practice sessions we were able to shift as easily with this one as we have been with others that use the shifter rather than paddles behind the steering wheel. But, the Azera is not a performance car, it's a comfortable sedan, so paddle shifters aren't necessary.

We checked under the hood to be sure there wasn't any other kind of engine, and found the dipsticks and fillers to be easy to find. Gas struts held the hood up while we were searching. The trunk is listed at nearly 17 cubic feet. I thought it was huge, as did my golfing buddies, who were impressed with how easily the bag fit in the rear. The rear seat backs fold 60/40 to increase cargo capacity and provide a longer cargo box.

The actor Hank Azeria has proven to be multi-talented, with the ability to do comedy, Broadway, drama, singing and voice-overs with a variety of accents for The Simpsons.

The Hyundai Azera isn't quite as versatile, but it does do its job well at an attractive price point. The only options on our tester were carpeted floor mats at $85. Everything else is standard, and you can't complain about that.

2006 The Auto Page Syndicate