Category Archives: Azera

Hyundai Azera not only luxurious, but also affordable

(The Brunswick News Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 30–Hyundai is officially on the map as one of the best car companies in America.

The company solidified its spot with the release last year of the highly anticipated Genesis, a hallmark of luxury from an auto maker known for economy cars.

Before the Genesis though, Hyundai was already breaking into the luxury market with the Azera.

To be fair, the Azera is not on the same level as the Genesis, but that is by design. It is a more affordable car, while offering a very similar driving experience.

In its place as a car around $30,000 — putting it right in line with cars like the Maxima, Accord, and Camry, the perennial powerhouses of foreign sedans — the Azera thrives.

Our tester was 2009 Limited model from Carl Gregory Hyundai Chrysler and Dodge.

Its magnificently appointed interior was wrapped in black leather and accented with wood grain door handles and steering wheel.

The beautiful touch screen DVD navigation system fit perfectly into the dash and was very easy to use.

High quality dash components were a far cry from the plastic pieces in the Hyundais of old.

The overall feel of the Azera’s interior was one of sophisticated elegance. It felt more like a Lexus than a Hyundai.

Under the hood lay a silky smooth 3.8 liter V6 that pushes 263 horsepower and 257 pound feet of torque.

It was coupled with a five speed automatic transmission with manumatic stick mode that made driving the peppy sedan a blast.

Off the line, it ran through first gear quickly and pulled hard through second gear. Midrange acceleration from 40 mph was still strong and there was never a jerky moment.

The cold air intake system that comes with the engine is normally an after-market product to add horsepower. It also adds a nice sound to the engine that is subtle but very sporty.

The Azera gets 26 miles per gallon on the highway in both the Limited and GLS models. The GLS is a 3.3 liter V6 with 234 horsepower.

Adding to the sleek package is a set of 17-inch alloy wheels that are stopped by disc brakes on every wheel.

By the end of our test drive, it was safe to say that the Azera is a very attractive and powerful car that is not only luxurious, but also affordable.

Our tester tipped scales at $33,540, which considering the options and quality of the car, is a steal. Couple that with Hyundai’s award winning warranty, and you have an irresistible package.

Engine Specs: 3.3L V6 with 234 hp 3.8L V6 with 263 hp.

Cool Options: Navigation and a great V6.

Why Buy It: It is the perfect car for affordable luxury.

Prices: MSRP starting at $24,970 for the GLS Our price $33,540.

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The Brunswick News, Ga.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

2009 Hyundai Azera and Genesis: Two solid luxury cars from an unlikely source

Though you may have missed it, Hyundai has been trying to sell luxury cars in the United States for eight years now. The Korean automaker best known for its low prices and long warranty started with the 2001 XG300, moved on to the 2006 Azera, and now, for 2009, offered its most ambitious product yet: the Genesis.

The XG and Azera were both front-wheel-drive large V6 family sedans, the approximate equivalent of a Toyota Avalon selling for the price of a smaller Camry. The XG offered a spacious interior and a smooth ride, and moderately upscale if generic styling, but it wasn’t a particularly strong product.

The 2006 Azera was a significant upgrade over that car, and was able to offer more convincing luxury, with much more interior quality and tastefulness and superior driving dynamics that both could now rival the best large family cars.

But neither was a sales success. Nor was the Hyundai Veracruz, the midsize SUV that Motor Trend magazine compared favorably to the Lexus RX350.

After Hyundai spent years trying and failing to sell pricey vehicles, expectations were generally low when it introduced by far its most expensive product yet: the 2009 Genesis, the first Hyundai with a base price above $30,000.

But the Genesis has been a hit so far, easily outselling the far less expensive Azera in its first two months on the market.

Is it because it’s a leaps-and-bounds improvement over the Azera?

In daily use, it’s fairly similar. Both offer very high-quality interiors, comfortable and quiet rides, safe but unexciting handling, and plenty of space. The Azera costs nearly $5,000 less than a comparably equipped Genesis, comparing sticker prices and rebates, according to pricing site Transaction prices are even further apart.

So why did the Genesis outsell the Azera last month more than 2-to-1?

Part of it is the styling. Not only is its look newer, but the sharper front end and the BMW 5-Series style profile is more eye-catching than the pleasantly rounded but unremarkable Azera.

Part of it is the details. Though the two are similar in most ways, the Genesis trumps the Azera incrementally in most ways but interior volume, where the other has the clear advantage.

But most of it is the difference is that the Genesis is unapologetically a luxury car. With rear-wheel-drive, an available V8, lots of high-end features like cooled front seats and a 17-speaker stereo system, and no low-priced base model, it’s clearly not just a really nice mainstream car.

The less-expensive Azera could certainly pass for a nice family car, just a Camry alternative with more space, more refinement, and a more upscale interior. But many people won’t notice much difference in driving the Azera versus the Genesis, despite the effort and expense Hyundai lavished on its new flagship product.

Driving the Genesis:

Hyundai likes to call the Genesis a sports sedan, which it really isn’t. BMW need not worry about losing driving enthusiast customers. But it emulates the tight, controlled feel of a Mercedes-Benz E-Class at least as well as any other vehicle from an Asian automaker, with firm and responsive steering and comfortable and stable ride. This feel is unique to the Genesis among products in Hyundai’s history. Hyundai is more used to achieving a comfortable ride just by softening the suspension at the expense of softer handling. Again, the Genesis isn’t a sports sedan in that it doesn’t seem to encourage you to drive dangerously, but it isn’t a squishy luxury car that outright prevents you from doing so.

Buyers are offered one of two engines. Standard is an upgraded version of the 3.8-liter V6 used in many Hyundai products, and optional is Hyundai’s new first-ever V8. V8 models are just now arriving on dealer lots, but magazine reviews of pre-production models (cars hand-built for evaluation before they become commercially available) have not given the indication the V8 is worth the extra cost — $3,000 between comparably equipped versions. The V6 already delivers very strong power, excellent refinement, and surprisingly good gas mileage.

Inside, passengers find seats that are firmer than the Hyundai norm, also leading to a Germanic feel. But the interior maintains the Hyundai norm of strong interior packaging that’s often missing from luxury cars in offering bountiful space for front and rear passengers. In the rear especially, the well-shaped bench seat is mounted high from the floor to keep occupants from sitting knees-up as they would in a Lexus GS, and still offers plenty of head room. The trunk is also very spacious by the standards of a midsize luxury car.

If you’re also surprised to see excellent build quality inside, don’t be. Fit and finish was one of the first things Hyundai managed to excel at, as it found early on that it was much easier to give a car a nice interior than to make a competitive engine or suspension system. The rest of the engineering has caught up, but Hyundai hasn’t forgotten how to build a good interior. The company’s tastefulness has also improved in recent years, as current Hyundais lack the garish tones of false wood trim slathered throughout the cabin. The Genesis has its helping of the wood-like plastic, but its use is attractive.

Other Hyundai strong points that have carried over into the Genesis — and which are often absent from luxury cars — are the basic ergonomics of a simple control layout and excellent outward visibility. Both are often compromised in the interest of style in luxury products, and many automakers have also run into trouble making a luxury car’s many gadgets easy to use. Hyundai avoided problems in both areas, without making the Genesis boring to look at inside or out.

But while the Genesis is highly capable, nothing about it is likely to blow away someone used to a Mercedes-Benz E350 or Audi A6. It matches those cars in most areas at a much lower price, and it’s easier to tune the radio, but those don’t tend to be the qualities the average Mercedes buyer is looking for.

So don’t think of the Genesis as a “the same for less” product like most competing Hyundais are. Think of it as a large family sedan that competes against the likes of the Buick Lucerne, Nissan Maxima, or Toyota Avalon in offering more for the same: the feeling of a European luxury car for the price of a mainstream one. In that sense, it’s a Hyundai selling without a price advantage, but it’s a car that doesn’t need one.

Driving the Azera:

If the Genesis is to be considered a large family car, where does that leave the Azera? As a competitor to another Hyundai?

It can and should be. The two cars are about the same size and both try and succeed to deliver a premium feel. Hyundai originally considered the scenario (which has not panned out) that the Genesis would draw people into Hyundai showrooms but that they would leave with the less-expensive Azera.

If the Azera were more noticeable and better-advertised, perhaps they would. Some might even prefer it to the Genesis for its roomier interior — made possible by the greater space-efficiency of front-wheel-drive — and softer, plusher seats. And although it delivers a different sort of luxury feel than the Genesis, that of a nicer Toyota Camry rather than a cheaper Mercedes-Benz, many people do love the feel of a Camry, and both offer the feel of an expensive car.

Hyundai certainly didn’t do a bad job making the Azera feel nice inside. The leather is high-quality, the interior design is attractive, and no moving parts feel clunky. The use of false wood trim is even more restrained than in the Genesis. The crisp gauges are modeled after Lexuses, and look no less slick than in those pricier cars. A myriad of features keeps the Azera from losing the luxury gadget war; it offers rain-sensing wipers, an in-dash navigation system, and a retractable rear sunshade, among others. And taillights made up of hundreds of LEDs give its rear end a sharp look at night.

But there is less sophistication in its drive than in the Genesis, with lighter, looser steering and a bit less ride control. And though it’s hardly slow by any reasonable standard, its acceleration isn’t as strong as in the Genesis either. The Azera holds its own against like-priced competitors and some that cost a bit more, but it doesn’t follow the Genesis in matching big-name luxury in those areas. But it has no trouble in its quietness; the Azera stifles unwanted noise very well to provide a hushed driving experience.

There are a few other incremental differences between the Genesis and the Azera. The Genesis’s crash test results have, so far, been outstanding; the Azera’s merely very good. The V6 Genesis gets slightly better gas mileage than the Azera, up one mile per gallon in the city and on the highway, thanks to refinements made to the engine and an extra speed in the transmission. And the Azera is missing a few of the Genesis’s available features, like cooled front seats and a “proximity key” hands-free entry and starting system.

If you’re shopping for a luxury car or luxurious family car and aren’t afraid to be seen stopping by your local Hyundai dealer, give both of these cars a try. They do slightly different things — the Azera being a bit more of a very nice family car — but they do them very well. Don’t forget to shop the competition, of course, particularly for the pricey Genesis, but both of these Hyundais are leaders at their price point for comfort-focused luxury cars.

Vehicles tested: 2009 Hyundai Azera Limited / 2009 Hyundai Genesis 3.8
Vehicle base prices: $24,770 / $32,250
Vehicle prices as tested: $30,420 / $33,000
Test vehicles provided by: College Park Hyundai of College Park, Md. (Home of the lifetime warranty!)

Azera tries to escape the shadows

With the faster, more luxurious Genesis grabbing headlines at Hyundai these days, some have openly wondered about the future of the brand’s erstwhile flagship. That’s a shame: The Azera delivers the sort of comfort and quality a large sedan ought to offer – and, in typical Hyundai fashion, its price is hard to beat.

Introduced two years ago to replace the XG 350, the Azera comes in GLS and Limited trims for 2008. Hyundai has discontinued the midlevel Azera SE.

Stately but forgettable, the Azera’s styling may be its biggest limiter. It follows Hyundai lineage – I parked next to a newish Sonata, and the Azera seemed, appropriately enough, like a gussied-up version of its midsize sibling. I just question if that’s a good thing: Hyundai’s styling legacy smacks of bulbous takes on whatever Toyota and Honda are churning out. The Genesis shows signs of breaking that mold. The Azera, with its conservative 10-spoke wheels and old-school taillight bar, does not.

Conservative styling translates well in the cabin, whose mild contours and high beltline should find few detractors. The dash tries nothing new – it’s the same dome-and-shelf routine that’s been around since the early 1990s – but it’s agreeable in a way the Toyota Avalon’s airport-hangar dash isn’t.

Overall quality rivals an Avalon or Buick Lucerne, which is to say it’s premium but not quite at luxury-car levels. Dashboard panels fit tightly and feel soft to the touch, and most controls – save the navigation system’s, which I’ll get to later – click and turn with solid precision. I’m still a sucker for electroluminescent gauges, and the blue and white ones in the Limited look Lexus-sharp. (Conventional gauges go in the Azera GLS. Bah.)

The faux wood and imitation metal trim are sparing enough to provide an appropriate touch, though I’d like to see chrome door handles instead of the Azera’s silver plastic ones. I’d also like to see Hyundai swap the Elantra-grade window switches for some of the well-tailored ones in the Genesis. On par with such luxury ilk is the 605-watt, 12-speaker Infinity stereo. It’s optional on the Limited, and in my test car it cranked out rich, high-fidelity audio. Alas, it doesn’t have an auxiliary input jack for portable MP3 players, something most cars these days have. Hyundai spokesman Miles Johnson told me the ’09 Azera will offer a full USB hookup for iPods and the like.

New for 2008 is an optional navigation system supplied by electronics maker LG. It’s the same one offered in the Santa Fe and Veracruz SUVs; the one in the ’09 Sonata is a separate system. The LG unit doesn’t feel as slick: Its buttons flex and wriggle in a way the climate controls don’t, and usability is so-so. The zoom-in/zoom-out controls are physical buttons rather than onscreen ones, and there are clever functions like a route preview screen with turn-by-turn directions. I’d trade both for some other features that are lacking, such as an intersection finder that lets you input the city, more street names on the map, and a screen that’s angled steeper so sunlight doesn’t wash it out so easily. I can’t argue with the price, however. The LG unit comes packaged with the 605-watt stereo for a very reasonable $1,750; navigation alone costs around $2,000 on the Lucerne, Avalon, and Taurus.

Leather upholstery is optional on the GLS and standard on the Limited. Its concentric stitching looks like it was designed sometime during the Dole campaign, but the cushioning does provide excellent long-haul comfort. Power front seats are standard; I found limited rearward travel, and anyone taller than 6 feet will probably sit all the way back.

The backseat’s backrest sits at a snooze-inducing angle. I prefer something more upright, but if you frequently chauffeur kids or in-laws, it might be a godsend. Legroom is a few inches short of the Avalon and most Detroit competitors, but it should be more than enough for most adults. Headroom is competitive and downright roomy. Worth note: The footwells are crowded by a sizeable center hump – odd, given this is a front-wheel-drive car with no hump-requiring driveshaft.

Cabin and trunk volume are competitive with the segment, and a 60/40-split folding backseat augments cargo space. With the seat folded, the opening has some significant obstructions.

Depending on trim, the Azera gets a 3.3-liter or 3.8-liter V-6. My test car had the latter, whose whisper-silent startup belied its punch around town and on the highway. Passing power is fluid, and acceleration from low speeds can be sprightly.

I say “can be” because it isn’t always. Like many automatics in this class, the Azera’s standard five-speed auto is lazy as all getout. The gated shifter comes with a manual-shift function, but a Sport mode with more aggressive shift patterns would be more helpful. Many automatics offer this. Left to its own devices, the Azera’s transmission stubbornly resists downshifting for more power until long after you need it. It’s a frustrating tendency in a number of situations, from accelerating around a bend to passing on the highway. Third gear offers potent 40-to-60 miles per hour power, but inducing such a shift takes a concerted prod on the gas. The saving grace is midrange torque – the 3.8-liter engine offers plenty – and it means there’s at least adequate power even as the transmission camps out in fourth or fifth gear.

The 3.8-liter drivetrain returns 17/26 miles per gallon city/highway, which is midway between the Avalon and V-6 Impala and V-8 competitors like the 300C, V-8 Impala and V-8 Lucerne. The 3.3-liter engine earns just 1 mpg more in city driving, so apart from being paired with the cheaper Azera GLS, it doesn’t give much reason not to upgrade.

Ride quality is expectedly smooth, if a bit floaty, and there is plenty of body roll in the corners. I found the cabin suitably quiet at highway speeds.

Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard, but like many in this class – the Nissan Maxima is one exception – the pedal feels spongy, and hard braking induces lots of nosedive. Likewise, overall handling puts comfort ahead of sportiness. The steering wheel turns with a light touch yet avoids the over-assisted feel of the Lucerne or 300. On the highway it has a secure on-center feel, and in close quarters it returns a 37.4-foot turning circle, which bests all competitors but the Avalon.

Eight standard airbags include side-curtain and seat-mounted side-impact airbags for both rows. Despite this panoply, the Azera earned merely “acceptable” side-impact scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. IIHS awarded “good” scores, the highest rating possible, for head and chest protection but lower ratings for pelvis and leg protection, as well as for the car’s structural integrity. Frontal-impact IIHS scores are “good.”

Other standard features include antilock brakes, traction control, and an electronic stability system. All five seats employ head restraints, and the front ones are active. The outboard rear seats have latch child-seat anchors, but they’re buried deep in the cushion fold and difficult to access. All three rear positions have top-tether anchors.

Without the destination charge, the Azera GLS starts at $24,600, undercutting all but the Taurus and Impala. It comes better equipped than either one’s base trim, with power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-speaker CD stereo, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Heated leather seats and a sunroof are optional. Both are standard on the Limited ($28,550), which also has the larger V-6, a power sunshade for rear-seat passengers and a 315-watt Infinity stereo. Beyond that, a slew of options emulates the stuff of genuine luxury cars – among them a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a navigation system, power-folding side mirrors, a 605-watt audio system, and rain-sensing wipers. Fully loaded, the Azera tops out around $31,500.

Full-size cars are in a tough spot these days. The segment has dropped some 30 percent in sales so far this year, according to J.D. Power data, as buyers flock toward cheaper midsize cars with better mileage. Caught between the Sonata and Genesis, the Azera seems in a particular bind: The prospect of low-30s mileage may send some buyers toward the Sonata, while leather-trimmed dashboards and rear-wheel-drive performance could send others toward the Genesis.

It’s a shame, because in between is a fine sedan that’s more refined than the Sonata and more comfortable – if less engaging – than the Genesis. The Azera has a distinct flavor that makes it worth keeping in Hyundai’s lineup. I just hope buyers are willing to give it a try.

2009 Hyundai Azera
EPA fuel economy 17-18 mpg city; 26 mpg highway
Engines 234-hp, 3.3-liter V-6; 263-hp, 3.8-liter V-6
Transmission 5-speed automatic with overdrive and auto-manual

New or notable
3.3-liter or 3.8-liter V-6
Available navigation system
Standard stability control
Full-size dimensions
SE trim level eliminated

What we like
Cabin quality
Acceleration with 3.8-liter V-6
Seat comfort
Highway ride
Value for the money
Turning circle

What we don’t
Lazy automatic transmission
Limited opening w/folding backseat
So-so navigation interface
No MP3 jack
No parking sensors
Mediocre gas mileage

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.
By Kelsey Mays
Cars.Com / August 31, 2008

2009 Azera Packs More Perks Into Premium Sedan Segment

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Hyundai Azera’s long list of features has been expanded and upgraded once again for the 2009 model year, adding to its outstanding reputation for luxury and value in the premium sedan segment. Updates to the 2009 Azera include improved steering and suspension for better ride and handling on all models, new blue interior lighting, chrome interior accents, more distinctive chrome grille, redesigned alloy wheels and first-ever standard iPod®/USB and auxiliary inputs. Mid-year model changes carried over into the 2009 Azera include an LG in-dash navigation system. This more competitive Azera features no price increase for the GLS or Limited base models.

* Redesigned 17-inch alloy wheels
* More distinctive chrome grille
* Signature blue interior lighting
* Electroluminescent cluster display standard on GLS
* Chrome interior accents
* Dark brown woodgrain accents
* Ion-plated metalgrain accents
* More contrasting interior trim panels
* Brown interior color choice
* Audio head unit with larger display screen
* Standard iPod®/USB auxiliary inputs
* New exterior color options – Ivory Pearl, Black Onyx Pearl, Mystic Blue Pearl, Crimson Red Pearl, Smoky Gray Pearl, Silver Frost Metallic, Silk Beige Metallic

More and more customers are discovering how well Azera stacks up against the competition. Enhanced design and convenience features, together with comprehensive standard active and passive safety technology packages, make the 2009 Azera a strong competitor to vehicles like the Lexus ES350, Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima and Buick Lucerne. Spacious and luxurious, the Azera even features more interior volume than expensive luxury sedans such as the Mercedes Benz E-Class and BMW 7-Series. There’s no question that Azera is one of the smartest premium large-sedan choices available in the American market today.


Azera’s proportions are elegant, purposeful and aerodynamically efficient, reducing wind noise while adding maximum stability on the highway. Inside, its spacious cabin provides not only roomy comfort, but a luxurious look and attention to detail that makes both driver and passengers alike feel that they are riding in a much more expensive sedan.


Maintaining Hyundai’s emphasis on class-leading safety technology, the 2009 Azera boasts impressive active and passive safety features to protect its occupants in the event of a collision, earning the vehicle the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) top crash test ratings for frontal offset impacts. The Azera continues to set standards by making key life-saving active safety technology standard, such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with a Traction Control System (TCS).

Also standard are independent double-wishbone front- and multi-link rear suspension, large four-wheel disc brakes and an Antilock Braking System (ABS) that includes Brake Assist, which provides maximum braking force when a panic stop is detected, and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), which automatically adjusts the amount of force applied to each of a vehicle’s brakes for optimal performance under poor road conditions, speeding, loading and other potentially hazardous situations.

Additionally, Azera offers impressive passive safety features including eight standard airbags, active front head restraints to help prevent whiplash, a Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system for children’s seats and three-point seatbelts for all positions while shingle-style rear-seat head restraints provide drivers with improved visibility. Security is further advanced with an anti-theft engine immobilizer and remote keyless entry with alarm.


The 2009 Azera offers luxurious appointments and spaciousness that rivals the finest premium competitor brands. It offers a roomy cabin, with nearly 44 inches of legroom up front and more than 38 inches of legroom for rear-seat passengers. Hyundai engineers have created efficient packaging to maximize interior volume, with the 2009 Azera offering more interior volume (123.5 cu.-ft.) than the Toyota Avalon, Mercedes Benz E-Class sedans and the BMW 7-Series.

Special attention has been paid to other interior details, such as the enhanced electroluminescent cluster display and steering wheel audio control functions. The new blue backlighting for interior gauges, switches and buttons along with ion-plated accents highlight the vehicle’s modern appearance. Other unexpected luxury appointments include rain-sensing wipers, power adjustable foot pedals and power folding side mirrors with turn signal indicators on the Limited version.

The Azera comes standard with dual front automatic climate controls, electrochromic auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink®, power seats for driver and front passenger, as well as woodgrain and new metalgrain interior accents. More contrast has also been added to the interior trim panels, and for the first time ever, a brown interior color choice is available.

An AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system that includes a four-channel, 172-watt internal amplifier and six speakers comes standard in the Azera GLS. Audiophiles with even more demanding tastes will be impressed by the available Infinity audio system that includes a seven-channel, 315-watt amplifier with an in-dash six-disc CD changer and 10 speakers, standard in Limited trim levels.

Music lovers will also welcome the 2009 Azera’s inclusion of standard auxiliary input jacks (3.5 mm mini-jack and USB input) to accommodate and charge audio devices such as iPods®. When an iPod or flash drive is connected through the USB port, which is located in the center storage compartment, not only does it play music through the vehicle’s speakers, but it also charges the iPod and allows the driver to access tracks with the steering wheel audio controls. This system also allows both driver and passengers to easily view song/artist/title information and control the music from the audio head unit rather than just the iPod itself.


LG, the South Korean-based international manufacturer of consumer electronics has developed an exclusive navigation system for the Hyundai Azera, Santa Fe and Veracruz models. Using touch screen functions, the navigation system comes equipped with a premium 605-watt Infinity Logic 7® surround sound system with 12 speakers, 11-channel digital amplifier and AM/FM/XM Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 reception capability which replaces the six-disc CD changer and auxiliary input jacks. It also includes mapping software for the continental United States and has available POI’s (Points of Interest) for entertainment, shopping and dining. Route guidance is provided by audio and visual prompts.


The Azera GLS is equipped with a 3.3-liter, DOHC V6 engine that produces 234-horsepower and 226 lbs.-ft. of torque. As the first member of Hyundai’s “Lambda” engine family, this engine has all-aluminum construction, four valves per cylinder and Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT), all for a broad power spread. It also features a Variable Intake System (VIS) that further broadens its power curve to improve the vehicle’s off-the-line acceleration and passing performance. EPA fuel economy estimates for the Azera GLS are 18 mpg city / 26 mpg highway.

The Azera Limited delivers a powerful performance, due to its clean and efficient all-aluminum 3.8-liter, DOHC V6 engine, which delivers 263-horsepower and 257 lbs.-ft. of torque. To maximize the power spread, this engine also uses CVVT and a Variable Intake System (VIS) to help cylinders breathe efficiently at both low and high rpms. The Azera offers more standard horsepower than the Buick LaCrosse and even the BMW 528i, yet still remains environmentally friendly with an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) certification rating. EPA mileage figures for the Azera Limited are 17 mpg city / 26 mpg highway.

Both V6 engines are matched with Hyundai’s five-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC® manual control. This transmission offers smooth shifts and a wide ratio spread that ideally suits the engine’s characteristics.


Hyundai engineers benchmarked the best cars in the category before designing the Azera’s double-wishbone front and multi-link rear four-wheel independent suspension system. By using high-tensile steel in critical unibody areas, the Azera features increased stiffness and rigidity, which ensures formidable resistance to flexing, enhanced ride and handling tuning, while at the same time lowering interior noise levels. Attached to the Azera’s rigid structure is improved suspension and steering hardware to keep the vehicle even flatter through turns and more compliant over bumps. The enhanced suspension features four revalved twin-tube, gas-charged dampers, softer bushings and a quicker steering rack. The Azera also has front and rear stabilizer bars and rides on 17-inch wheels and 235/55VR17 tires.


From the well-equipped GLS, to the downright luxurious Limited, the 2009 Azera lineup addresses the needs and desires of premium sedan customers with a highly competitive mix of features and benefits. Each model delivers a level of standard equipment that is a cut above competing models.


The GLS now includes a more impressive range of standard features that give it a competitive edge, including a powerful and efficient 3.3-liter, DOHC V6 engine with 234-horsepower, a smooth-shifting, five-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC manual control, standard ESC with TCS, eight airbags, active front head restraints, electroluminescent gauge cluster and a six-speaker AM/FM/XM/CD audio system with iPod®/USB and auxiliary inputs. The vehicle achieves 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway fuel economy ratings.

Further enhancing the GLS’s first-class appearance are new 17-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels and 235/55VR17 tires. Upscale features include LED tail and brake lights, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror with HomeLink®, power seats for both driver and front passenger, dual front automatic climate controls and automatic headlight control.


The Azera with Premium Package adds leather seating surfaces, heated front seats and a power sunroof to an already-loaded standard equipment package.


A truly impressive array of standard features and amenities define the prestigious Azera Limited. Additional standard features on the Limited include leather-trimmed seating, heated front seats, power glass sunroof with tilt and slide, power folding side mirrors with turn signal indicators, power rear sunshade and a powerful 315-watt Infinity AM/FM/XM/MP3 audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer. The Limited now adds new hyper silver alloy wheels and iPod® /USB and auxiliary inputs.


The Ultimate Package defines Hyundai’s flagship Azera, offering a 605-watt Infinity Logic 7® Surround Sound AM/FM/XM/MP3 audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer, 12 speakers (including subwoofer and external amplifier), and iPod®/USB and auxiliary inputs. The Ultimate Package also offers, power adjustable tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, integrated memory system (power driver seat, exterior mirrors, and power tilt and telescopic steering wheel), woodgrain steering wheel and door pulls, and rain-sensing wipers.


The Ultimate Navigation Package includes all of the Ultimate Package items plus the LG navigation system, which replaces the six-disc CD changer and auxiliary input jacks.


The Azera, like all 2009 models, is protected by the Hyundai Advantage, America’s Best Warranty. Coverage includes five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection, 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, five-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance and seven-year/unlimited mileage anti-perforation coverage. In addition, Azera buyers receive 24-hour roadside assistance coverage at no extra charge for five years (no mileage limit), a service that includes emergency towing, lockout service and limited coverage for trip-interruption expenses. There is no deductible on any of this coverage.


Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced by almost 800 Hyundai dealerships nationwide.

Value, warranty give Azera high marks in class

The Azera is a full-size sedan that continues to elevate the rising consumer confidence in Hyundai vehicles. The Korean manufacturer has rebuilt itself from a rather auspicious beginning in the early eighties into a real competitor in the American market.

Where it was once fraught with quality issues, it is no longer a brand precariously teetering on extinction — but rather a brand excelling at offering value with some of the most far-reaching warranties in the market.

Clearly, the Azera garnishes its overall high marks for value. You get a lot of good, reliable vehicle with Hyundai Azera. Add to that the newer, better options available to enrich the driving experience as well as the highest frontal offset impact safety rating in the class and it is not hard to see why the Azera should be on consumers’ radars.

On the outside, I would put Azera in the middle of the road for looks. There is very little going on here that is establishing an attitude or inspiring enthusiasm. Having said that, it is amazing what good value will do to temper acceptable, and even likable, exterior style. Azera does nothing to make itself look bad, but there is little that is really memorable about its exterior style.

As Hyundai’s flagship sedan, the Azera does offer more roomy interior spaces than a typical midsize family sedan. This extra cabin room is where the most obvious value in Azera comes through.

Inside the cabin, Azera is roomy and quiet. I found there to be very little road noise inside, with the exception of some pavement under construction, the cabin setting is pleasingly calm.

Drivers will find a refined dash design that is easy to see. I found controls and switches to be easily accessible and the new steering wheel controls offer additional convenience. Seating in my Limited trim level tester was for five with plenty of room for front and rear passengers. The rear seat 60/40 split offers extended storage from the huge trunk.

Refinement in the cabin can be found in the optional leather upholstery that added an appreciated level of sophistication to this Hyundai. Seats in front were heated and power adjustments for the driver made getting comfortable a breeze.

All Azeras come standard with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine. Delivering 263 horsepower to the front wheels, I thought the five-speed automatic transmission did a nice job of handling quick accelerations very smoothly. For most people, acceleration from this V-6 is going to be plenty to keep them happy. Hyundai says Azera will reach 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, while my tests were not scientific, I’d have to agree with them. It has some surprising pop given the price tag on the Azera is thousands less than cars the same size.

The Azera’s powerful V-6 is another part of that touted ‘value’ equation I mentioned. If you can deliver solid performance and reliability and big interior spaces, most consumers will, and should, dismiss a few shortcomings on the exterior styling. I was willing to overlook plenty given the price.

Fuel economy is less than impressive at 15 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

Base priced at $24,235 to $27,335, the Azera delivers a big bang for the buck with outstanding safety and the class’ best long-term warranty.

BY JOHN STEIN SouthtownStar Auto Editor
Source: Chicago Sun Times

Hyundai Azera Named A Consumers’ Top Rated Sedan by

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, CALIF., 05/29/2008 The 2008 Hyundai Azera was awarded the “Consumers’ Top Rated Vehicle Award” in the $15,000 – $25,000 sedan category by’s visitors. The 2008 Azera received the average highest rating from the site’s audience as of April 30, 2008.

“This recognition further reinforces our brand philosophy on how smart consumers think about premium sedans,” said Scott Margason, national manager, Product Development at Hyundai Motor America. “Clearly, the Azera raises the bar by combining safety, luxury and value like no other vehicle in its segment. Consumers who want full-size sedan features, a smooth and powerful engine and a comfortable ride will be pleased with the Azera.” tabulated the results for 21 award categories by evaluating the feedback of thousands of site visitors. Awards were given for coupes, convertibles, sedans, wagons, SUVs, trucks, minivan/vans and hybrids.’s editors agree that Azera is a great choice for consumers looking for a family sedan with luxurious touches at an affordable price.

More and more customers are discovering the Hyundai Azera’s advantages. Enhanced design and convenience features, together with a comprehensive standard active and passive safety technology package, render the 2008 Azera a solid alternative to vehicles like the Lexus ES350, Toyota Avalon and Nissan Maxima. Spacious and luxurious, the Azera features more interior volume than more expensive luxury sedans, such as the Mercedes Benz E-Class and BMW 7-Series. Couple this with its continued accolades from independent automotive studies across the board and there’s no question that Azera is one of the smartest premium large sedan choices available in the American marketplace today.

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced by more than 790 Hyundai dealerships nationwide.

Azera Stuns with Finesse

Azera stuns with finesse

Usually when someone comments on the car I’m driving, it’s a high-end luxury car or some kind of sporty roadster. But last week, the guy who was helping me out with my groceries said: “You have a nice car, ma’am.”

I was driving a Hyundai Azera.

He was stunned it was a Hyundai, I was stunned he called me ma’am. Really? Me? Ma’am? Hmmm. But I digress.

Whenever I mentioned the “H” word during the test week, the stunned reaction was common. People would take a second look at the Hyundai badging with a perplexed expression, then they would turn to me and ask: “When did that happen?”

My answer: While no one was paying attention.

If you haven’t looked at Hyundai lately, now would be a good time. With a luxurious crossover like the Veracruz and a nice midsize sedan like the Sonata, Hyundai is a brand on the move with incredibly affordable pricing.

The Azera was new for the 2006 model year, and, in fact, much of Hyundai’s lineup was refreshed that same year. The design got a little sleeker. Fit-and-finish has been a constant improvement. Not to mention “America’s Best Warranty” that comes with every vehicle. And while no one was looking, Hyundai became a contender.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the 2008 Azera. Standard features include power adjustable front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, electronic stability control, side-curtain airbags, automatic climate controls and a 3.3-liter V-6 engine that delivers 234 horsepower. This large, elegant sedan that looks like it should compete in the BMW 5-Series, Lexus ES, Audi A6 range has a base price of …wait for it … $25,295.

The test vehicle was a Limited model with standard leather seats, XM Satellite Radio, premium Infinity sound system, sun roof, heated front seats and an up-level 3.8-liter V-6 engine that delivers 263 horsepower. Without looking at the sticker sheet, I would have placed it in the $40K range including options like navigation, adjustable foot pedals and rain sensing wipers. I was stunned (there’s that word again) that the base price of the test vehicle was a mere $29,245. With the Ultimate Navigation Package ($2,750) and carpeted floor mats ($100), the final MSRP was $32,095. Absolutely, well, stunning.

Really, look at a photo that includes the grille on the Azera. Take your pinky and cover up the circle H emblem. Now, imagine a circle L in its place. It’s not a huge stretch.

The outside of the Azera speaks for itself. With long lean lines, a dual exhaust and sparkling taillights, the exterior has a high-end look and feel that gives people pause when they see the word Hyundai.

The interior of the Limited test vehicle was just as nice. I liked the buff-colored leather seats that were soft but not squishy. The wood accents were rich, and the touch points within the Azera were solid. The test vehicle had the optional navigation system, which was well integrated within the center stack. If you have the extra money to spend for this option, I’d definitely recommend it as the system works well, and I’m not a fan of the base level audio and HVAC controls.

Even though this is a large sedan with a length of 192.7 inches, I felt very comfortable in the driver’s seat. With the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and the power adjustable seats, I was able to find a great driving position that afforded an excellent view of the road. I didn’t even need to use the adjustable pedals that came with the Ultimate Navigation Package.

Front legroom is a generous 43.7 inches, and rear legroom is 38.2 inches. So, behind my driving position an NBA player could probably fit in the back seat comfortably. Behind an average adult, you’re looking at a couple of average-sized adults in the backseat.

The ride and handling of the test vehicle was more luxurious and less sporty. It was a soft and comfortable ride that didn’t jar too much over the Chicago potholes. The 263 horsepower in the Limited test vehicle was quite nice with great bursts of speed in passing mode and quick off-the-start acceleration when leaving a stop. I thought the Azera moved very well through traffic, and it was highly maneuverable in traffic. The Azera was easy to parallel park and easy to back into my parking space.

Because of the luxurious ride, the handling in the Azera tended to be a bit soft. So, when I hit the sweeping curve of the Ohio feeder ramp, rather than hunkering down and biting into the carousel, the Azera felt a bit heavy.

I had a few skeptical passengers during the test week because of the very fact that the Azera was in the Hyundai family. However, after a ride in the test vehicle, they were won over by the style and the price.

Through perseverance and a plethora of standard features, Hyundai plods along steadily, moving up the automaker food chain and becoming a brand to be reckoned with. I haven’t driven a Hyundai I didn’t like, and I’m looking forward to the Genesis and Genesis Coupe on the horizon. In the meantime, if you want a lux car with out the lux price, Azera should be on your list to test drive.

May 1, 2008
BY JILL CIMINILLO SearchChicago – Autos Editor

Fool a Few Friends

TEST DRIVE | Azera looks lots more upscale than its price

The precisely built Azera sedan is Hyundai’s flagship model and trumps many rivals with its attractive pricing, standard equipment, safety features, spacious interior and killer warranty.

My jet black test Azera turned heads with its slick, although mostly conservative, styling. Some neighbors couldn’t guess that this South Korean car was a Hyundai, mistaking it for an upscale Japanese or European sedan.

The Azera has received high grades in initial quality and the highest safety rating in a frontal offset impact test. The car is fast — 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds — with the 3.8-liter, 263-horsepower engine in the upscale Limited version.

The Azera has gotten high grades in initial quality and the highest safety rating in a frontal offset impact test. It’s fast (0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds) with the 3.8-liter, 263-horsepower engine in the upscale Limited version, which I tested.

The base GLS model has a 3.3-liter, 234-horsepower V-6, which wasn’t available for testing but should provide lively acceleration. Both engines work with a responsive five-speed automatic transmission with an easily used manual/shift capability.

Estimated fuel economy is nearly identical with both engines: 18 mpg city and 26 highway with the 3.3 and 17 and 26 with the larger V-6. Only regular-grade fuel is needed.

The downside is that, despite its smooth appearance and dual chromed exhaust tips, the front-wheel-drive Azera is no sports sedan that offers driving kicks. Rather, Hyundai aims the car at conservative buyers who want a stylish, comfortable, feature-packed and safe sedan for fairly low prices.

The result is an overly soft ride despite an all-independent suspension, with body “float” over uneven surfaces. Former owners of old Buicks will like that, but sporty-car-minded buyers will take a pass.

However, the Azera’s handling is OK for average driving, steering is quick, and strong anti-lock brakes with a brake-assist feature are easily modulated for smooth stops, even in harrowing stop-and-go traffic when someone gabbing on a cell phone ahead of you jams on their brakes.

The Azera replaced Hyundai’s XG350 sedan in 2006 and was longer, wider and larger, while riding on a longer wheelbase. It was positioned as a luxury sedan, with a sleeker exterior, many safety items and a roomy interior. It hasn’t hurt that the Azera has Hyundai’s 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain (engine and transmission) warranty — although few original owners keep cars 100,000 miles.

The GLS lists at $24,600 and the Limited costs $28,550. The mid-level SE model has been dropped for 2008, but the GLS adds new features.

The GLS is arguably the best Azera buy for those who can live without the added punch of the Limited’s 3.8-liter V-8 and such standard items as leather upholstery, heated front seats, power sunroof and an amazing Infinity audio system with an in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer. The GLS costs nearly $4,000 less than the Limited.

Standard for the GLS are air conditioning with dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, tilt/telescopic leather-wrapped wheel with radio controls, cruise control, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, heated power mirrors and power windows and door locks with remote keyless entry — besides automatic headlights and a split/folding rear seat.

Both the GLS and Limited have fairly large 17-inch alloy wheels that wear 55-series tires designed more for ride comfort than handling. Newly available is XM satellite radio with a free three-month trial subscription.

Safety features for both Azeras include front/rear side air bags, curtain-side air bags, traction control and an anti-skid system.

The GLS has a $2,200 Premium option group with leather upholstery, heated front seats and a power sunroof, which is offered as a $950 stand-alone option for this model.

A $1,250 Ultimate package for the Limited contains power tilt/telescopic woodgrain/leather-wrapped wheel, power adjustable pedals, upgraded Infinity sound system and rain-sensing wipers.

A Navigation package for the Limited costs $1,750 and contains an upgraded Infinity sound system. This model also has a package with such neat items as hefty interior woodgrain door pulls that make it easier to slide out.

Wide-opening doors with large outside/inside handles allow easy entry and exit. And my test Limited had a quiet, nicely trimmed interior with good materials that was almost Lexus-like, with such things as a stylish dashboard with electroluminescent gauges, large and supportive front seats, easily used controls, lots of leather and neatly covered front console cupholders.

There’s plenty of room for five tall adults, although the center of the rear seat is too stiff for long trips and best left to the center fold-down armrest with its twin cupholders.

The steering wheel masks the dashboard ignition switch, and the glove compartment is small. But all doors have storage pockets and there’s a deep, covered console bin. There’s also an ashtray with a cigarette lighter, a feature often no long found in cars and an indication that many South Koreans still are smokers.

Cargo loading is made easier by the large trunk’s wide opening, although it’s somewhat high. The lined trunk lid has manual hinges that are enclosed to prevent cargo damage and a hefty interior handle that makes it easier to close the lid. Rear seatbacks flip forward and sit flat to enlarge the cargo area, although the pass-through opening between the trunk and rear seat area is only moderately large.

The hood raises smoothly on a hydraulic strut, exposing a neatly designed engine compartment with easily reached fluid filler areas.

The Azera is a good blend of value, luxury and safety. Get a jet black one and fool friends, neighbors and lots of nearby motorists.

Jedlicka’s take: Hyndai Azera

* Prices: $24,600-$28,550

* Likes: Very well-equipped. Excellent fit and finish. Roomy. Especially fast with 3.8-liter V-6. Attractive pricing. Terrific warranty.

* Dislikes: Average handling. Overly soft ride for some roads. Steering wheel masks ignition switch.

April 14, 2008
BY DAN JEDLICKA Auto Editor/Chicago Sun Times

G. Chambers Williams III: Hyundai Azera Drives to Top

Paying $32,000 for a Hyundai sedan seems a long stretch from the company that began its U.S. sales in 1986 with a subcompact econobox whose list price was its biggest attraction — $4,995.

But the 2008 Azera Limited that we tested this past week shows just how far this South Korean automaker has come since its humble beginnings in this country.

The Azera arrived for 2006 as an all-new entry in near-premium sedan class that also includes the Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, Buick LaCrosse, Pontiac G8, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger.

With the Azera, Hyundai created its most luxurious model yet, and the great surprise is that this car seems more on par with the entry premium sedans than the competitors above.

It’s so loaded with features and so classy looking that it could well be taken for a Lexus or Acura. If Hyundai had created its own luxury brand like Toyota, Honda and Nissan have done, the Azera could very well serve as the entry model.

It’s not the first near-luxury sedan from Hyundai. The first was the XG350, a very good first effort that was replaced by the Azera.

While our tester, the Limited model, comes with a base price of $28,550 and some options that ran its price to $32,095 (including freight), the base Azera begins at $24,600 (plus $695 freight), and at that price still would outclass some vehicles that cost a lot more.

Aimed mostly at the Avalon, the Azera even has more standard amenities in the base model than consumers will find in the base Avalon, which begins just more than $27,000.

2008 Hyundai Azera
The package: Full-size, four-door, front-drive, V-6 powered, five-passenger premium sedan.

Highlights: The most luxurious Hyundai sedan yet, this is a stretched version of the Sonata that replaced the XG350 model. It’s roomy, comfortable and very well-equipped, with prices thousands of dollars below some of its competitors.

Negatives: Suffers from Hyundai’s poor brand image, which is improving, however.

Engine: 3.3-liter V-6; 3.8-liter V-6.

Transmission: 5-speed automatic with manual-shift feature.

Power/torque: 236 HP/226 foot-pounds (3.3); 263 HP/257 foot-pounds (3.8).

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Length: 192.7 inches.

Curb weight: 3,629-3,740 pounds.

Cargo volume: 16.6 cubic feet.

Fuel capacity/type: 19.8 gallons/unleaded regular.

EPA fuel economy: 18 miles per gallon city/26 highway (3.3); 17/26 (3.8).

Major competitors: Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, Buick LaCrosse, Pontiac G8, Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus, Mercury Sable.

Base price range: $24,600-$28,550 plus $695 freight.

Price as tested: $32,095 including freight and options (Limited model).

On the Road rating: 8.7 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.

The Limited model, though, seems more like a Lexus, and yet is priced about $4,000 less than a comparably equipped Avalon.

This car’s styling makes it look considerably more expensive than it is. It’s not exactly cutting-edge, but it’s not quite as bland as the Avalon and LaCrosse. There are cars in this class with more edgy styling, such as the Maxima (which is all new for 2009), Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger.

While the Azera base model’s 3.3-liter V-6 with 236 horsepower is a bit less than some of its competitors, the 263-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 in the Limited is among the best in the class.

This engine has 69 more horsepower than the XG350 and has more power than the base engines of the LaCrosse, Impala, Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable, Chrysler 300 and Charger.

The Avalon, which was completely redesigned for 2006, has 268 horsepower; but the new Maxima has 290. It will begin at least $3,000 more than the Azera, though.

To get more power than what the Azera, Avalon and Maxima offer, you’d have to choose the Hemi V-8 option in the 300 or Charger, or the GT (V-8) version of the new Pontiac G8.

But with those V-8s, you’ll use more fuel.

The Azera has surprisingly good fuel economy for the amount of power it offers: EPA ratings are 18 miles per gallon in the city and 26 on the highway for the 3.3-liter engine, and 17/26 for the 3.8-liter.

That’s less than the 19 city/28 highway ratings of the Avalon, but Toyota recommends that only premium fuel be used in the car. The Azera is designed for unleaded regular.

Finding anything inferior about the Azera, even in direct comparison with the Avalon, is difficult. Even so, it’s hard for Hyundai to command prices for the Azera that are even close to those of the Avalon, which has become the vehicle of choice among import buyers ages 55 and up.

Toyota’s reputation for quality is one of the reasons, and despite Hyundai’s remarkable improvement in quality and reliability during the past few years, it’s going to take a while longer to convince the buying public that Hyundai vehicles are worth as much as Toyotas. That’s why the Azera costs less, but it’s great for consumers.

The Azera is a stretched version of the redesigned Sonata that arrived for 2005, just as the Avalon is a stretched version of the Camry. The Sonata, just updated for 2009, is a very good car that can hold its own against Camry and Accord models that cost thousands more.

But the Azera is significantly different from the Sonata, with its own unique exterior sheet metal and a much more refined interior. The floor pan also is different from the Sonata’s, a necessity since the Azera is longer and roomier.

Among standard features even on the entry model are halogen projector-beam headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, self-dimming rearview mirror, Home Link universal garage/gate opener, antilock brakes, power driver and passenger seats, power windows/mirrors/door locks with remote, engine-immobilizer security system, and wood-grain and metal interior accents.

Also included on the base model are electronic stability control; 16-inch, five-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels; traction control; six-speaker AM/FM/compact-disc audio system with MP3 playback; LED taillights; active front head restraints; and cloth seats.

Options include a power sunroof; premium 10-speaker Infinity audio system with an in-dash, six-disc CD changer; and heated front seats.

Moving up to the Limited model brings leather seats; 17-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels; the heated front seats; an electro luminescent gauge cluster; wood trim on the steering wheel; a power rear sunshade; and the power sunroof.

XM satellite radio also is standard, and it includes free activation and three months of service.

Our test vehicle came with the Ultimate Navigation Package ($2,750), which included a great in-dash GPS nav system, along with the Infinity audio system, power tilt/telescopic steering column, power foot pedals, rain-sensing wipers, wood-grain steering wheel and door pulls, and a memory system for the driver’s seat, outside mirrors and steering column. Carpeted floor mats were an additional $100.

Both models come with the same five-speed automatic transmission. As with most upscale automatics these days, it comes with a manual-shift function that lets the driver decide when to change gears, or it can be left in fully automatic mode.

Safety features abound on the Azera. Both models come with eight standard air bags, including dual front, front and rear seat-mounted side, and front and rear overhead side-curtain air bags.

The stability-control system and antilock brakes are designed to help avoid collisions, while the air bags and front headrest pretensioners are among so-called passive safety features intended to protect occupants should a collision occur.

Inside, this car looks nothing like the Hyundais of the past. Fit and finish are excellent, and materials seem to be of much better quality than we’ve seen in the past from South Korea.

The cabin is among the roomiest in the class, giving five adults quite comfortable seating for around-town or cross-country jaunts. The Azera has more interior space than the Avalon and several other competitors.

This vehicle rides more like a luxury car than an affordable sedan, too. It’s also quieter at highway speeds than most of the competition.

Among the best in the industry, the warranty includes powertrain coverage for 10 years/100,000 miles, as well as five years of 24-hour roadside assistance with no mileage limit.

The roadside service includes emergency towing, lockout service and limited coverage for trip-interruption expenses, Hyundai says. There is no deductible on any of the coverages.

G. Chambers Williams III
San Antonio Express-News

Hyundai Cooks Up Quite a Tasty Midsize Morsel

Hyundai cooks up quite a tasty midsize morsel

Question of the day is: Who makes Azera?

If you guessed Bobby Flay on the Food Network, you would be wrong.

Azera is one of the nicer midsize sedans on the market in room, comfort and quiet.

Sadly, it’s also one of the best kept secrets in that segment and beyond.

Azera was created by Hyundai of South Korea as the 2006 model year successor to the XG. Remember, the Mercedes-Benz lookalike?

While Toyota and Honda have gone to great lengths to ensure Camry and Accord set the benchmark for bland, Hyundai has taken pains to make Azera fashionable, from the jewel lamps upfront to eye-catching multi-spoked wheels along the sides to curvy deck lid and upscale interior with soft-touch finishes and tight fits that say quality and luxury.

Azera, in fact, is a step up from Camry and Accord, and competes with the Toyota Avalon and Nissan Maxima, as well.

But Hyundai has to get the word out.

We tested the top-of-the-line Azera Limited, with a host of amenities printed in the standard equipment column, from leather, heated, power seats to air conditioning to power mirrors/locks/windows — with a button in the center console that operates the rear window sunshade.

There’s also automatic headlamps, cruise control, split and folding rear seat backs, an AM/FM stereo radio with in-dash CD player/MP3 player, XM satellite radio and power tilt/slide sunroof set far enough back to keep glare out of the cabin.

For the electronically gifted, a $2,750 navigation system package includes power tilt and telescoping steering column, power adjustable pedals, rain-sensing wipers, woodgrain steering wheel and door-sill scuff plates.

Why, however, does Azera offer a tilt and telescoping steering column so you can sit farther from the dash and power adjustable pedals to reach across that distance, and then limit the travel of the power driver’s seat so you can’t get very far back from the dash? Don’t know how those 6-feet-2-inch drivers handle it.

What makes it odder still is that while leg, head, arm, and hip room are very spacious upfront, it’s even better in back where you could probably do leg lifts and not strike the front seat. So there’s ample room in back to allow the front seat to travel a few more inches without jamming the knees of those in steerage against their sternums.

The other gripe is the seat itself. Soft and cozy with good lateral support but an abbreviated bottom cushion. A few more inches would make for better thigh support. Can’t help but feel the engineer in charge of Azera seats was nicknamed “Shorty.”

The base GLS Azera is powered by a 3.3-liter, 234-horsepower V-6; the Limited we drove by a 3.8-liter, 263-h.p. V-6 teamed with a 5-speed automatic with manual mode shifting.

Azera’s original V-6 needed smoother acceleration without hesitation. The 3.8 has good spirit moving from the light or down the merger lane, but it lets out a little growl if you kick the pedal hard. That is out of character with Azera’s luxury image. The mileage rating is 17 m.p.g. city/26 m.p.g. highway, a couple miles per gallon short of ideal, no matter what the gas price is.

When Azera bowed, we felt it needed a few suspension tweaks to soften the ride. With the 2008 version you’ll feel a bump or two more than in an Avalon or Maxima, but it’s noticeably less harsh than it was.

Handling is decent with minimal lean in corners or wandering the open road. Stability control with traction control is standard, which accounts for the improved road manners. Both also kept footing steady footing when traveling on snow-packed roads. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes also are standard.

The cabin seats four adults in comfort and quiet. Very large front and side glass makes not only for great visibility, it also makes the cabin feel airy and larger than it is. The seats and cabin trim were a light beige, which adds to the feeling of spaciousness, though the light color also shows dirt more easily than dark does.

Cabin amenities include an ashtray, though to be politically correct you can call it a gum holder. There’s also a small stowage hold in the lower dash for cell phone/iPod, a pair of compartments under the center armrest along with a power plug, and fuel-filler and trunk release buttons in the driver’s door.

The trunk is massive and will hold luggage or golf clubs for a foursome. It looks as if, tipped sideways, it may hold one of those Smarts from Mercedes as well.

Base price of the Limited is $28,550. If you take a pass on the navi package with power pedals and door scuff plates, you can drive away for less than $30,000 — and less than most of its better known midsize sedan rivals as well.

February 24, 2008

Read Jim Mateja Sunday in Transportation.