For years, we have expounded about how each new Hyundai product has not only leap frogged the previous models, but usually the competition, too. They’ve done this each time with impressive designs, quality and innovation.
Well, it looks like they’ve done it again!
First arriving at Hyundai dealerships in late 2005 as a 2006 model, the Azera became the ex officio flagship of the Hyundai brand. Even though it was a very nice car, it wasn’t overly exciting, and sales numbers were modest.
Since the all-new Azera launched earlier this year sales have made a dramatic increase and it has become the hottest selling nameplate in this segment, which includes cars like the Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon, Buick LaCrosse and Ford Taurus. According to J.D. Power PIN data, the new Azera spends only 15 days on a dealer’s lot. That compares with 28 days for the Avalon, 63 days for LaCrosse, 65 days for Maxima and 70 days for the Taurus. The other interesting statistic is that 61 percent of the Azera sales are coming out of competing brands.
There was nothing evolutionary about the new Azera styling, it’s a totally new fresh design fashioned in Hyundai’s flight inspired Fluidic Sculpture design. The flowing lines accented with sharp-edge sculpted accents makes the Azera look almost capable of flight. It’s the kind of car that turns heads.
The interior is equally dramatic, more like a piece of art than a normal car’s cockpit. Sweeping lines draw attention to the instrument cluster and center stack with innovative placement of controls. At night, ambient lighting and back lit controls make everything easy to locate.
The spacious interior is outfitted with standard features like navigation, plush leather heated seats in front and rear, rear backup camera, and a long list of comfort and convenience equipment that are options on most other cars.
A 293-hp, 3.3-liter direct injection V-6 engine is under the hood, driving the front wheels through a Hyundai designed and manufactured six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic®, which means the driver still has the ability to manually shift to take advantage of engine braking for better control. The drivetrain is rated at 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway or 23 mpg combined. We actually averaged 25.7 mpg during the week we drove the Azera. Zero to 60 mph acceleration is estimated by the buff magazines at 6.2 seconds and it feels that fast.
The Azera is not only comfortable to ride in, it’s entertaining to drive. It’s quick, it goes where you aim it and in the process gives the driver good feedback so you know what the car is doing. This is a car we’d enjoy driving on a daily basis.
Where the Azera story gets even more interesting is the pricing. Azera looks rich in the same league with upscale models like the Lexus ES 350 and Acura TL, but with a base price of $32,875, including the destination charge, it’s a major bargain and easily one of the lowest priced premium large sedans on the market.
Azera shopping is easy, too. Choose one of the eight available colors and decide on an interior color (each exterior color is offered with one to three interior colors). Then it’s a matter of, do you want the technology package, or not? Even at $4,000, the technology package is a bargain, adding 19-inch wheels, panoramic sunroof, HID headlights, rear-parking sensors, Infinity audio, ventilated front seats, rear and side sunshades and a few other things.
Another useful feature being added to Hyundai models is the BlueLink telematics system, which is activated by pushing buttons on the rearview mirror in the Azera or on the Internet or from a smart phone.
“Blue Link combines safety, service and infotainment into a complete package that works to both help simplify Hyundai owners’ lives and reduce distracted driving,” said Barry Ratzlaff, director of customer satisfaction and service business development, Hyundai Motor America. “We’ve carefully studied how drivers rely on smart phones and navigation systems as an innovative link to the outside world. Blue Link brings that seamless connectivity directly into the car with technology like voice text messaging, POI web search download, turn-by-turn navigation, and monthly vehicle reporting. Our agent-assisted advanced voice recognition system offers a 21st century solution to performing POI searches in the vehicle.”
Hyundai engineers have also included a high level of safety technologies in the new Azera, including features like Vehicle Stability Management, which includes stability control and an innovative motor-driven electric power steering, which helps keep the car from pulling to the side during acceleration and braking. It also has nine airbags and a state-of-the-art braking system.
The Azera is good looking, comfortable and a great driving car. It’s a “must drive” car for anyone considering a large premium sedan.