2014 Hyundai Azera LimitedPosted on August 15th, 2014
Premium sedan travels to the front of the pack
By Nina Russin
Since the economic downtick of 2008, car buyers have been veering on the side of caution, with those who formerly shopped luxury considering premium cars instead. The full-sized Hyundai Azera addresses this audience with a stylish exterior, powerful engine and segment-leading connectivity features.
Buyers can choose between the base car priced from $31,000 and upscale Limited with a $34,750 MSRP. The Limited adds navigation, electroluminescent gauge cluster and power folding side mirrors to the list of standard convenience features.
Power comes from a 3.3-liter direct injection V-6 engine rated at 293-horsepower and six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy isn’t quite as good as the Toyota Avalon the Azera competes against, but the Azera engine develops 25 more horsepower and seven more foot-pounds of peak torque.
Options on the test car include a premium package that adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, power rear sunshade, side sunshades and rear park assist as well as carpeted floor mats. Final MSRP including the $895 destination charge is $37,905.
Test drive in Arizona
This past week, I had the opportunity to drive the Azera through sections of Scottsdale, Chandler and Gilbert, Arizona as well as a two-lane road through the foothills of the Superstition Mountains. Temperatures ranged from a sultry 110 degrees down to 80. During the test drive through the Superstitions, I passed through the southern tip of one of our seasonal rainstorms.
Hyundai has built its reputation on offering customers a tremendous value for the dollar. While the Azera is one of the more expensive models in Hyundai’s lineup, it’s strategic positioning is quite similar.
Basically, the Azera is an entry luxury car at a premium price, with more standard content than any of its competitors. Convenience features on the test car include leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats, keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, bi-xenon headlamps, premium audio system with HD and satellite radio and Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system with automatic collision notification, maintenance reminders, remote vehicle unlock, roadside assistance and more.
But the biggest reason for buying an Azera is its powertrain that is a force of nature. Once I heard the exhaust note during hard acceleration, I had to goose the throttle at least once during each day of the test drive.
The trip through the foothills of the Superstitions included about 1000 feet of elevation change that the Azera handled with aplomb. When I needed to pass two slower vehicles on the two-lane road, the car accelerated from 50 to 80 miles-per-hour in the blink of an eye.
The six-speed automatic transmission is well mated to the engine, progressing smoothly through the gears. On the two-lane road I used manual gear selection to dial up the performance, keeping the engine in its sweet spot of about 3500 rpm. Average fuel economy for the test drive, despite my lead foot, was about 25 miles-per-gallon.
The Azera is a heavy car with a curb weight of 3800 pounds, but it never feels clunky. The four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup in the back. Both axles have stabilizer bars to keep the chassis flat while cornering.
The rack-and-pinion steering system offers solid on-center response at speed with plenty of assist on the low end. A 36.5-foot turning circle is quite good for a car with a 112-inch wheelbase, making it possible to perform U-turns on wider suburban roads.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. I was able to adjust the driver’s seat for a clear forward view. I had no problems monitoring vehicles in adjacent lanes on the highway. A convex insert in the driver’s side mirror eliminates blind spots to the back and makes it possible to monitor traffic two lanes to the left.
The standard rearview camera projects a wide-angle image on the center stack screen. Lines superimposed over the camera image show the car’s trajectory according to steering inputs.
I feel compelled to mention how good the center stack screen on the Azera is, since hard-to-read screens have been a problem for Hyundai in the past. This time designers added a hood that effectively blocks bright sunlight so the image on the screen never washes out.
Ventilated seats don’t make a car faster or more nimble but on a hot summer day in Arizona, they’re a godsend. When temperatures outside get to 110 the car interior can reach 140 and leather seats get very, very hot.
The Azera comes so completely equipped with convenience features that I can’t think of anything a buyer could possibly add, with the exception of the few items in the premium option package. Redundant steering wheel controls enable the driver to program the audio or scroll through the driver information display on the gauge cluster with minimal distraction. The Infinity surround-sound audio system has excellent quality.
The automatic climate control system quickly cooled the sedan interior down to a comfortable 74 degrees during the test drive and kept it there, no matter how hot it was outside. Both climate and infotainment controls are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate.
The spacious interior has seating for up to five passengers. The trunk has plenty of room for luggage, groceries, golf bags and some smaller camping equipment. Cyclists will be better served with Hyundai’s Tucson and Santa Fe crossover vehicles.
The Hyundai Azera comes with nine airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, traction control, tire pressure monitoring, rearview camera and daytime running lamps. Standard Hyundai Blue Link includes automatic collision notification.
The 2014 Azera is on display at Hyundai dealerships nationwide.
Like: A stylish, powerful premium sedan with high levels of standard safety and convenience features that make it a great value.
Model: Azera Limited
Base price: $34,750
As tested: $37,905
Horsepower: 293 Hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 255 lbs.-ft. @ 5200 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 19/29 mpg city/highway
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