By KBB.com Editors
Who would have thought the company that brought us the lackluster Excel subcompact two decades ago would now be building a car rivaling 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 one of its newest achievements, the 2010 Azera. Designed to compete with the Buick Lucerne and Toyota Avalon, the Azera offers an impressive array of features, including a huge rear seat and a choice of two strong V6 engines, all at an unbeatable price. One of the most powerful Hyundais ever built, the company takes pride in pointing out the Azera Limited equipped with the 3.8-liter V6 offers more standard horsepower than the BMW 528i.
If getting the biggest bang for your buck is more important than the name affixed to your next car's trunk, the 2010 Hyundai Azera may be your next vehicle. It offers a spacious interior, supple ride and high-end amenities at a value price.
If you believe status symbols are worth the extra cash, the Azera's Hyundai logo won't impress like one from BMW, Mercedes or Cadillac and it's resale value is less than most of its competitor's.
To further differentiate the Limited trim from the base GLS, many of last year's Ultimate package features are now part of the Limited's standard equipment roster. Additions include a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, integrated memory function for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel, as well as a wood-trimmed steering wheel and door pulls.
The 2010 Hyundai Azera equipped with the 3.8-liter engine has the kind of remarkable acceleration that can get you going quickly and easily. When we found ourselves in a sudden traffic jam, 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 somewhat harsh on broken pavement; we also feel that for a near-luxury model the cabin had a bit too much road noise. On the other hand, the visibility is excellent, engine response terrific, and we like the manual-shift mode of the automatic.Favorite Features
The Hyundai Azera has strong lines and a timeless look. We wouldn't be surprised if passer-by din't think this car had a Lexus or Mercedes badge before discovering the Azera's Korean heritage.
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 2010 Hyundai Azera GLS uses a suede-like seat-surface material that could pass for the real deal and is just as soft to the touch. The Limited Edition adds plush leather seating surfaces and just the right aesthetic touches of wood trim. The cabin is comfortably cozy and has a big, open feeling. The beige interior – beige-on-beige with unexciting vinyl – is 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 seatback that pulls down easily for additional storage. 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 LED taillights that spell drama, while the front-end forms a stylish V with all lines flowing smoothly. The form is classic and looks expensive.Notable Standard Equipment
The Azera GLS's impressive list of standard features includes a 3.3-liter DOHC V6 engine with 234 horsepower, five-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC manual control, electronic stability control and traction control. 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 receives a 3.8-liter V6, leather-trimmed seating with heated front seats, a power sunroof, 315-watt Infinity sound system with six-disc in-dash CD changer with 10 speakers and USB/auxiliary audio inputs, power-folding side mirrors with integrated turn signals, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel with wood trim, a power rear sunshade and memory for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel.Notable Optional Equipment
The GLS options list includes the Premium Package, which adds leather seating, heated front seats and a power sunroof. The Azera Limited offers the Navigation Package, which adds an Infinity 605-watt Logic 7 Surround Sound audio system combined with an LG navigation unit.
The standard 3.3-liter V6 may not be as powerful as the available 3.8-liter, but it does offer acceptable levels of performance and smoothness. If you can swing the extra cost, the all-aluminum 3.8-liter DOHC V6 engine, which delivers 263 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque, is the best choice. 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.
234 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
226 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26
263 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
257 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26
The 2010 Hyundai Azera GLS' Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts just under $26,000, while pricing for the Azera Limited starts just over $30,000. Add in the Navigation Package and the price tops out around $32,000. 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 for the Azera in your area. The Azera is expected to hold only average resale values over a five year period, on par with the Chrysler 300, slightly below the Buick Lucerne and well below the Toyota Avalon and Nissan Maxima.