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Heels on Wheels - 2012 Hyundai Azera Review +VIDEO

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2012 Hyundai Azera

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

The 2012 Hyundai Azera shakes up a rather sleepy large sedan market with sleek, aerodynamic looks that falls under Hyundai’s aggressive “fluidic sculpture” design philosophy – it’s the seventh vehicle in Hyundai’s intense product initiative to deliver seven new models in a twenty-four month period.

I drove a 2012 Hyundai Azera with the all-new 293-horsepower Lamba II 3.3-liter Gasoline Direct Injection V6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission system with SHIFTRONIC. No complicated trims, standard equipment on all includes: push-button start; leather upholstery; heated front and rear seats; a navigation screen with a backup camera; and Bluetooth connectivity. Starting price is $32,000. My test-drive came with the optional $4,000 Technology Package that adds a panoramic sunroof, rear parking assist sensors, a power rear sunshade, and an upgrade Infinity Logic Seven stereo system and larger nineteen-inch alloy wheels.

Hyundai, in case you haven’t been paying attention, has invented a successful an in-it-to-win-it attitude with their entire lineup – including the Azera that is as impressive as it sounds from its modern shape to its straightforward price. Main competitors are the Toyota Avalon and Ford Taurus.

Watch the Hyundai Azera promo video


Stylish But Comfortable Results: Numerous pluses here: retractable rear-side window shades; power rear window shade; remote trunk opening on key fob; vivid display screen graphics. Almost every convenience deserves a call-out because Hyundai has taken all of them one step beyond. For example, the panoramic sunroof is basically two back-to-back glass roofs reaching deep into the second row. And the power seating controls are embedded in the side door, a new industry first. The floating “waterfall” center console comes right out of Volvo’s design playbook. Two dings to discuss: the first, limited rear headroom; and the second, no touch-screen climate controls.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Azera ratings of “Good” in frontal offset and side impact crash results, but has not tested for roof strength. Standard safety features include an impact-reducing seat system and nine airbags, Vehicle Stability Management, Electronic Stability Control, Motor-Driven electric Power Steering and a state-of-the-art braking package.

Cost Issues: The Toyota Avalon starts at $33,195 and has leather-trimmed seats, reclining rear seats, a backup camera and a moonroof, so its relatively comparable (but with less of a wow factor); the Limited is $36,435. The 2013 Ford Taurus is already out with a starting price of $27,395 but with very basic features.

Activity & Performance Ability: The Azera shines on the highway, with smooth, fast-acting acceleration and low road noise. Cornering is sharp with a well-matched suspension to soak up road impurities. The six-speed automatic transmission is works through gear ratios at optimal moments. The Active Eco system is engaging and efficient. Overall, the Azera delivers a large sedan that has a gas-saving, sprightly attitude. When in reverse, side mirrors tilt – another sign the Azera has been carefully designed to reign over its class.

The Green Concern: With the Active Eco mode modifying the Azera’s drivetrain, a more than a five percent improvement in fuel economy is achieved and puts gas estimates at 20 miles-per-gallon city and 29 highway.

Sleek inside and out, the 2012 Hyundai Azera features many luxury-inspired conveniences – or puts a spin on more popular ones – to stand above the large-size sedan market. You’ll love its smooth operation and straightforward price, too.

2012 Katrina Ramser