Hyundai Azera gets sophisticated treatment
BY JOHN STEIN ToDrive Editor June 18, 2012 6:24PM
When Hyundai decided it was time to update the Azera with its incredibly successful “Fluidic Sculpture” design approach, it was not just making a bold design statement for the exterior — but making a commitment to customers on the interior.
There’s little doubt that the exterior of the all-new Azera, with its distinctive beltline and long, sleek roofline, will get lots of attention on the road. Featuring a signature Hyundai chrome grille, 19-inch rims and wraparound LED taillights, this new Azera is sophisticated and pronounced at every curve.
Azera is the seventh vehicle to get Hyundai’s 24/7 product initiative treatment, which is roughly seven new models launched in 24 months. The 2012 Azera starts at $32,875, maybe a bit high you may think at first, until you see the huge list of standard features that are optional for other brands.
From a size standpoint, Azera rests easily between the Sonata and Genesis sedans. Like both of it brethren sedans, Azera delivers outstanding value for the dollar by offering upscale standard features and high-quality materials inside the cabin.
The elegant exterior look continues inside where a quiet cabin awaits with standard leather seating and wonderful fit and finish. The first thing I noticed was the prominence of the flow-through center fascia and instrument panel.
The Azera has room for five adults. I found the seating to be quite comfortable. The 10-way power driver and eight-way front passenger’s seats and seat temperature controls created a perfect driving experience.
The Azera is a sedan you won’t mind taking on long road trips. The driver’s seat has an optional cushion extension and an integrated memory system for the seat, steering wheel and side mirrors. Active front head restraints have been replaced with optimized seat back structures to further absorb impacts.
Sightlines inside the cabin are excellent and the road noise is but a minimal drone barely audible with the audio system completely off. Speaking of the audio system, the standard offering is a seven-speaker Dimension AM/FM/Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 system with iPod/USB/auxiliary input jacks. I had the pleasure of experiencing the Infinity 550-watt, Logic 7 audio system with 12 speakers. It makes music an absolute part of the fabric that so comfortably envelopes all who sit in it.
Upscale appointments include ambient lighting, cooled glove box, electro-chromic auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink, power rear sunshade and manual rear side window shades.
Under the hood, Hyundai delivers more value and more sophistication with its Lambda II 3.3-liter GDI V-6 (293 horsepower and 255 lb.-ft. of torque). This system provides high-pressure direct injection that increases power and torque while reducing fuel consumption and emissions. The EPA fuel economy, 20 miles per gallon city, 29 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined, are respectable for such a roomy sedan.
The V-6 engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual control. I found the shifts to be quite smooth throughout the range of test speeds and acceleration I put it through. There is an Eco Mode that modifies engine and transmission control for more than a 5 percent improvement in fuel economy. Depending on your tolerance for being passed in the left lane, you may (or may not) care for this feature.
Azera combines a MacPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link independent rear to optimize both ride and handling dynamics. Standard tires are 245/45R18 wrapped on 18-inch Hyper silver alloy wheels. My tester featured the optional 19-inch Hyper silver alloy wheel with a 245/40R19 tire.
Inside, Azera creates a safety zone by delivering nine airbags, including dual front, front and rear seat-mounted side-impact, front and rear side curtain airbags and a driver’s knee airbag.
An additional standard worth noting is the Blue Link telematics, safety, service and infotainment package, which delivers connectivity to the car with voice text messaging, POI web search download, turn-by-turn navigation, and monthly vehicle reporting.
The 2012 Azera can be equipped with touch-screen navigation, XM Satellite digital HD Radio Technology Radio, Real-time XM NavTraffic, XM NAV Weather, XM Sports Ticker, XM Stock Ticker, Bluetooth hands-free phone system and auxiliary iPod/USB inputs.
This Azera, like the previous all-new launches for Hyundai combine an amazing array of standard features, safety, economy and value into a great looking sedan.
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