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2012 Hyundai Azera Review By Steve Purdy

2012 Hyundai Azera (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Hyundai Azera

By Steve Purdy
Michigan Bureau

The big news in my driveway this week is the all-new, full-size, front-wheel drive Hyundai Azera sedan. Bigger than Sonata, smaller than Equus and priced barely more than 30 grand, the Azera is poised to make a big splash in its segment of the market. This is essentially a near-luxury, large sedan sharing the segment with Lexus ES 350, Nissan Maxima, Buick LaCrosse, Ford Taurus and maybe even Chrysler 300. It’s a crowded segment with stiff competition.

The last generation Azera, a competent but undistinguished car, went out of production early while they cleared inventories in anticipation for this new one. When I was shopping for a backup car last summer, used Azeras were on my list, but I didn’t find many. It was not a hot selling car. This new Azera, like its Korean stable mates, is advancing the reputation of the brand. This new one is more competent, exhibits excellent quality, with improved content and it is significantly more inspired.

Hyundai continues its “fluidic sculpture” design language with this new Azera. They’ve now applied it to just about the entire line of cars and crossovers. Swoopy lines with bold, fluid shapes suggest movement and high style. Haunches thicken like LaCrosse without interfering with the sense of length and litheness. Wraparound LED headlights and squinty fog lights surround a distinctive grill under a sculpted hood to give the Azera that eye-catching style. From the rear view the chrome trimmed dual exhaust outlets nicely integrate in to the fascia.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Under the hood we find a neatly finished orderly engine compartment where everything seems well thought out. Only one powertrain is available, but it’s a good one. This new version of Hyundai’s Lambda 3.3-liter V6 features direct injection, but is normally aspirated. With 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque it is second in its class only to LaCrosse in power, but the horsepower/liter number is best in class at 88.8. Putting that power to good use is a smooth 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy matches the best in the segment at 20-mpg in the city, 29 on the highway and 23-mpg combined using regular fuel. This 3,600-pound Azera is lighter than LaCrosse and Taurus. In our varied driving this week we averaged 27.9 mpg.

Suspension is of conventional design with McPherson struts in front, an independent, multi-link design in the rear and stabilizer bars at both ends. Our experience driving our variety of roads here in mid-Michigan shows the suspension tuning to be well-balanced for both firm control and comfortable cruising. The cabin is exceptionally quiet at speed.

Safety features include nine, count ‘em, nine airbags. That’s more than most congressional committees. Chassis dynamics, like stability control, abs, brake assist and everything else the science guys could come up with, are included to keep the overzealous driver from getting in trouble, and to assist the average driver in bad conditions.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Most impressive is the list of standard features on Azera: leather seats, navigation with 7-inch screen, heated 10-way power driver’s seat and 8-way power passenger seat, cooled glove box, dual climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, and Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system with 90-day subscription. I’m most impressed that the power seat controls are up on the door panel where they are easily reached and managed – so much better than down on the side of the seat. A tasteful, judicious use of chrome trim and nice ambient lighting inside reflects thoughtful design. And, for comfortable night driving the dash lights turn all the way off, a feature I treasure that very few cars provide.

The room inside is amazing. The rear seat space is generous and even with my 6’6” son in the front seat there was adequate room behind him. (SEE: All Sedans Ranked By Rear Headroom) The Azera trunk is cavernous and well designed with 16.3 cubic-feet of volume. (SEE: All Sedans Ranked By Trunk Space) Rear seatbacks only release from inside the trunk making it an increment less convenient.

Price is close to the same as a comparably equipped last generation Azera. Remember, it comes standard with a lot of stuff that was optional on the last gen car. The standard Azera now starts just over $32,000 and with the optional $4,000 Technology Package (19-inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, HID Xenon headlights, power rear sunshade, Infinity audio system, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, ambient lighting, rear parking assist sensors and ventilated front seat) I’m not sure what else we would want or need.

The new car warranty covers the whole car for 5 years or 60,000 miles and the powertrain for 10 years or 100,000 miles.

As we expected the new Azera becomes a value leader in its class, as have the other new Hyundai products of this generation. The full-size sedan class gets more crowed with the all new Impala and Avalon due soon, but I think the Azera will more than hold its own when folks do their due diligence in their car shopping.

ęSteve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved