Second-generation model makes a luxury statement.
Hyundai offers four medium to large sedans, more than any other brand. The Korean manufacturer has steadily expanded its product line to provide incrementally larger and more luxurious vehicles beginning with the midsize Sonata and extending to the larger Azera, the still larger Genesis, and by topping the brand off with the ultra-luxury Equus.
Introduced in 2006, the Azera operated briefly as the flagship for Hyundai before the Genesis sedan arrived in 2009 followed by the Equus in 2011. The first generation model was sold through 2011; the current generation model is now in its third year.
With its 2012 redesign, the front-wheel-drive Hyundai Azera assumed the brand’s fluidic sculpture design language marked by a bold grille, flowing lines and form, including distinct profile characteristics. Jewel-like headlamps, front accent lights and LED tail light treatments add to this sedan’s high-end look.
Under the hood is a 3.3-liter V-6 engine, making 295 horsepower and paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. That transmission also has manual shift control. No other engines or transmissions are offered.
Priced from $31,000, the Azera Limited retails from $34,750. As tested, the total price of our weekly driver came in at $37,905. Hyundai names the Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima and the Buick LaCrosse as the Azera’s chief competitors. Other models to compare include the Toyota Avalon and Chevrolet’s Impala.
Azera Cabin Amenities
Inside, the Hyundai Azera has a look and feel that points to a more expensive model. The Azera’s cabin is roomy with excellent legroom up front and back.
The Limited edition is equipped with a very comfortable 12-way power adjustable drivers seat with a driver seat cushion extension the front passenger gets an 8-way power seat. Both front seats can be heated or ventilated; the rear seat offers heating for the two outboard positions. Leather seating is standard.
The Azera Limited offers a power tilt and telescopic steering wheel column; cruise, audio and phone controls on the steering wheel; analog tachometer and odometer read outs flanking a digital color display; front map lights and three rear reading lights; four in-door beverage holders and four cup holders; metal grain and simulated leather trim; power accessories; a cooled glovebox compartment; two 12-volt outlets; and assist grips.
The premium package ($2,150) brought in a panoramic tilt and slide sunroof, a power rear sunshade, manual rear side window sunshades, rear parking assist, and 19-inch hyper silver allows wheels. An 8-inch display screen in the center stack does double duty as a navigation system and rearview camera.
The Limited edition upgrades the standard 6-speaker Mobis audio system to a 550-watt, 14-speaker Infinity system with surround sound. HD Radio is added with the limited; Blue Link telematics is standard across the model line.
Hyundai outfits the Azera with nine airbags including a driver’s knee airbag. You also get an anti-lock braking system, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, traction control, and rear parking assist, the latter available only with the Limited edition.
The Limited also includes HID Xenon headlights, automatic headlights, daytime running lights, and LED tail lights as standard equipment.
On the Road
The Hyundai Azera comes with keyless entry and push-button start, the latter firing up the engine and all its potential. That potential was realized on the open road when pressing the pedal to the metal, with the engine responding with rapid acceleration and the transmission shifting with ease.
The sedans largeness notwithstanding, the Azera’s suspension is tuned to deliver a comfortable ride, but not to the extent where feedback is eliminated. Torque understeer, the bane of many larger front-wheel-drive models, was happily kept to a minimum.
Steering, however, is not the Azera’s strong suit, what seemed uneven at times, requiring correction from time to time. Perhaps it was the 19-inch tires, high performance rubber at that. Some vehicles just aren’t suited for anything beyond standard radials.
The Azera’s overall ride was quite good, soft but not pillowy. The cabin was quiet at highway speeds and driver seat comfort was consistent across shorter and longer trips.
More than once my family remarked that the Hyundai was comfortable, receiving props for the heated rear seats, reading lights, and the sunshades. The panoramic sunroof was admired as well especially for its center parting screens.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The 2014 Hyundai Azera delivers on all fronts and does so at a price point that comes in below its competitors. Richly appointed vehicles priced slightly below competing models has long been a Hyundai strong suit the Azera being just one example.
If there is any weakness with the Azera it would be its lack of an all-wheel-drive system, available with both the Ford Taurus and the Buick LaCrosse. In fact, the only Hyundai sedan that offers all-wheel drive is the Genesis sedan and that feature rolls out with the all-new 2015 model, arriving in showrooms later this year.
My personal inclination would be to make the half step up to the Genesis sedan to enjoy its rear-wheel-drive architecture and low starting price of $35,200. Indeed, with its own premium package included the Genesis can be had for $39,600, offering a price differential of less than $2,000 for a similarly equipped Azera.
2014 Hyundai Azera photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.