The latest version of Hyundai's front-wheel-drive, full-size Azera sedan slots between the brand's Sonata and Genesis offerings and includes upgraded power and technology along with a dose of the automaker's "Fluidic Sculpture" design language.
Whether you love or hate it, the Azera's new look is far more likely to catch your attention than the rather snooze-worthy appearance of the outgoing model. Up front, the car benefits from more shapely headlamps, while the prominent chrome grille incorporates a central indentation that continues along the hood, a cue also seen on the Sonata. The rear features a more flowing interpretation of the wrap-around tail lamps of the outgoing car (now with LED lights), but the Azera's most arresting stylistic touches are seen in profile: upswept hips (which resemble a more organic version of the Dodge Charger 's "coke bottle hips") underscored by crisp character lines and echoed in the side window design.
Inside, the dashboard gets a more cohesive, flowing design that bears more than a passing resemblance to that of the Elantra. Befitting its higher price point, the Azera'a materials are a notch above those employed by its smaller sibling and there's also much more space - Hyundai claims best-in-class head and leg room for front occupants.
Standard features, Hyundai-style
In case you were wondering just what class the Azera plays in, Hyundai counts the Lexus ES350 and Buick LaCrosse as some of the Azera's main rivals, and the big sedan offers far more standard kit than either.
Building on Hyundai's reputation for offering generous levels of equipment, the base model Azera features (deep breath¬Ö) a navigation system, heated front and rear seats, leather upholstery, a backup camera, dual automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, a power rear sunshade, manual side sunshades and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Options include a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, a 550-watt Infinity sound system and 19-inch wheels.
More Power From Less Engine
Hyundai ditched the top-level 3.8-liter V6 of the outgoing model in favor of an updated version of the 3.3-liter V6, which now makes more power than the bigger mill and is the sole engine offered in the Azera. With 293 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque, Hyundai claims best-in-class specific output for the mill (88.8 horsepower/liter), which also returns 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway for (you guessed it) a best-in-class combined average of 23 mpg. Mileage is aided by Azera's 3,605 pound curb weight, which compares favorably with the Buick LaCrosse (3,835 pounds) and Ford Taurus (4,015 pounds)
The only transmission choice is a six-speed automatic with an Active Eco mode that Hyundai claims to deliver a five percent boost in real-world fuel economy.
Besides nine standard airbags, stability control, traction control and Brake assist with electronic brake force distribution, the Azera boasts an impact-reducing seat system, that Hyundai expects to reduce head and neck injuries by 17 percent. The system optimizes the seat back structure to more fully absorb impact energy and eliminates the need for active head restraints.
As previously mentioned, Hyundai sees the latest Azera as competing with a wide range of semi-premium sedans including the Lexus ES350, Buick LaCrosse, Ford Taurus and even the Acura TL.