By KBB.com Editors
Who would have thought the company that brought us the disposable Excel subcompact 25 years ago would now be building a car to rival some of the best near-luxury sedans in America? Hyundai's evolution from an entry-level upstart to a full-line manufacturer of quality automobiles is nothing short of amazing and culminates with its latest achievement, the Azera. Designed to compete with the Buick Lucerne and Toyota Avalon, the Azera offers an impressive array of features (not to mention a huge rear seat) and an unbeatable price. One of the most powerful Hyundais ever built, the company takes pride in pointing out the Azera can dash to 60 miles per hour faster than a BMW 530i or Mercedes Benz S430.You'll Like This Car If...
The Azera offers a spacious ride with high-end amenities at a fair price. It is a family-friendly sedan with performance and style.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you are going to be driving long distances a lot of the time, you may want to shop around. We found the ride quality and cabin noise to be among the lesser of the Azera's many qualities.What's Significant About This Car?
Steering wheel-mounted audio controls are made standard on all models.Driving It Driving Impressions
The Hyundai Azera has the kind of remarkable acceleration that can get you going quickly and easily. When we found ourselves in a sudden traffic jam on a bridge, the brakes were strong, sure and precise. The Azera also handled well in parking situations and was agile to maneuver. We thought the suspension, however, was a little bouncy and a little harsh, and the cabin had a bit too much noise. On the other hand, the visibility was excellent, the engine response terrific and we like the manual shift mode of the automatic.Favorite Features
The Hyundai Azera has lovely lines and a classy look. We like the performance of this vehicle. We know it's not a sports car, but the engine has a sweet sound that perfectly matches its response.
Power Rear Sunshade
One very interesting and thoughtful feature on the Limited Edition is the rear sunshade that automatically rolls up when the car is in reverse gear, so you can see what's behind you.
The SE model uses a suede-like seat surface that could pass for the real deal and is just as soft to the touch. The Limited Edition adds in plush leather seating surfaces and just the right aesthetic touches of wood trim. The cabin is comfortably cozy but has a big, open feeling. The beige SE interiorbeige-on-beige with unexciting vinylis not exactly stimulating, but the soft curved shapes of the dash are easy on the eyes and the controls are simple to understand and operate. The rear seat is roomy enough for three with a 40/60 split that pulls down easily. The trunk is huge, with enough room to accommodate a family's worth of summer vacation luggage or a couple of sets of golf clubs.Exterior
Drawing on the increasingly sophisticated Hyundai design lines, the Azera's profile wouldn't look out of place in a line-up of more expensive Lexus or Mercedes models. The Azera has look-at-me appeal with a squared-off rear end and wraparound bank of LED taillights that spell drama, and a front that forms into a stylish V with all lines flowing smoothly. The form is classic and looks expensive.Notable Standard Equipment
The Azera SE's impressive list of standard features includes a 3.8-liter DOHC V6 engine with 263 horsepower, five-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC manual control, electronic stability control and traction control system. Eight airbags, active front head restraints, LED tail and brake lamps and a six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3 capability add to the mix. The Azera Limited includes 17-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, leather-trimmed seating with heated front seats, wood trim on the steering wheel and a power rear sunshade.Notable Optional Equipment
High-end options such as a power sunroof and 10-speaker Infinity audio system are available on the SE. The Limited Ultimate Package adds in a 10-speaker audio system with subwoofer and six-disc CD changer, a power adjustable tilt/telescoping steering column, rain-sensing wipers, side mirror indicator lights, power adjustable foot pedals and power folding side mirrors.Under the Hood
The all-new, all-aluminum 3.8-liter DOHC V6 engine delivers 263 horsepower and 255 pounds-feet of torque. The engine uses continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) and a variable intake system, which helps the cylinders breathe efficiently at low and high rpm. It has an alloy block and cylinder heads for light weight and overall efficiency, and is coupled with a five-speed automatic transmission, with SHIFTRONIC manual control, that includes a fifth gear for highway cruising.
263 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
257 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28
The Hyundai Azera SE equipped with a 3.8-liter V6 engine has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $25,195. The Azera Limited has an MSRP of $27,795, and with the Ultimate Package upgrade is $30,345. Given its impressive content level, the Azera undercuts comparably-equipped sedans from Ford, Buick and Toyota by hundreds to thousands of dollars. Before you set out to purchase, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price, which shows what consumers are currently paying in your area. The Azera is expected to hold good resale values, on par with the Ford Five-Hundred, but not as high as the Buick Lucerne, Toyota Avalon or Nissan Maxima.