We drive the Hyundai Azera

Hyundai Azera

Every family seems to want a luxury car. Luxury cars are very desirable purchases for older and more affluent buyers. Most buyers have been working and saving money for many years and the purchase of a luxury car is a reward to themselves. Their inside voice tells them that they have earned this purchase and they deserve it. Just like a suit, luxury cars come in all kinds of different price levels. And just like a suit, spending more does not always get you more.

Hyundai has basically specialized in making everything more affordable. A few years ago they introduced the Genesis sedan to compete with mid-level luxury cars. Then, they upped the ante by bringing out the $60,000 Equus to go against $100,000 German sedans. Now comes the other end of the spectrum with the new Azera which is one step down from the Genesis sedan.

Nice Interior

The 2012 Azera offers luxurious appointments that rival the finest premium competitor brands. It offers a roomy cabin with more than 45 inches of legroom and 40 inches of headroom for front-seat passengers. Special attention has been paid to other interior details, such as an optional panoramic sunroof, which allows more natural light into the cabin and carbon interior accents. There are great other touches such as the LED ambient lighting that really looks modern to unexpected luxury appointments such as power rear sunshade and manual rear side window shades. The side shades can be inconspicuously tucked away when not in use and no other car in the segment offers them.

Seats are extremely important in this segment. The 2012 Azera offers first class seating assignments for all passengers. Leather seating surfaces are standard. A ten-way power driver and eight-way front passenger’s seats are standard equipment. The driver’s seat has an optional cushion extension and an integrated memory system for the seat, steering wheel and side mirrors.

Other standard features include heated front and rear seats, second row air vents, and cooled glove box. But the best part of the luxury experience has to be the quiet and smooth ride that the Azera provides. It is exactly the kind of place that you want to retreat to after a long day at the office. Standard audio system is an AM/ FM/ Satellite Radio/ CD/ MP3 system with seven-speakers and iPod/USB/ auxiliary input jacks.

An Infinity 550-watt, Logic 7 audio system with 12 speakers, including an eight-inch subwoofer is optional and feels fantastic to listen to on that drive home. An XM Satellite Radio interface is also integrated into the head unit and features XM Data services such as weather, XM Stock Ticker and XM Sports Ticker. Azera also offers standard HD Radio technology and of course a Bluetooth hands-free phone system with voice recognition, address book download and audio streaming is standard.

Rear view

Under the hood of the Azera resides a 3.3 liter direct injected V6. Using a very high 11.5:1 compression ratio, the Azera V6 puts out 293 hp while still returning 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

The Lambda II engine features all-aluminum construction, four valves per cylinder, piston cooling jets, roller timing chain, and Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT) for a broad power spread.

A three-stage Variable Intake System further broadens its power curve to improve the vehicle’s off-the-line acceleration and passing performance. The engine is mated to a Hyundai six speed automatic transmission that really suits the engine. The combination results in a very powerful feeling engine that has lots of power at lower revs and in the mid-range. Keep in mind that this is not a sports car and it is not intended to act like one either.

The Azera handling will also remind you that this is not a sports car. The Azera drives very well but the steering feels over boosted with very little feel and the car feels under damped. While that may be bad to a sports car person, as a luxury car it feels just right. It may not be a great choice for hanging turns on canyon roads but in the real world of driving around town and on the freeway, it is fantastic.

The Azera is fitted with a MacPherson strut front suspension, coil springs and a 24 mm diameter front stabilizer bar. The rear suspension is a multi-link independent design that is tuned for a comfortable ride. The capabilities of the advanced front and rear-suspension are maximized through Sachs Amplitude Selective Dampers (ASD), allowing tuning flexibility at smaller damper displacements. The very advanced ASD suspension provides improved ride comfort and handling. Standard tires are 245/45R18 all season tires on 18-inch alloy wheels.

Perhaps what is the best part of the Azera experience is the price. You get almost everything that you can think of for only $32,000. That is about the same price as a top of the line Camry. In fact, driving this car gets you thinking about what a waste of money it would be to buy anything that costs more.

Yes, you can buy other sedans that have more power or more room but the Azera is perfect for most people and if they want more they can spend $4000 more and get the Technology package which gives you a few more goodies such as HID lights and panoramic sunroof. The Azera is typical Hyundai, a great bargain.

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