By Jason Allan - Updated Date: 6/25/2012
Inside and out, the all-new 2012 Hyundai Azera is arguably the best-looking car in the large-sedan class. It's also among the most powerful and most fuel-efficient. It offers the best features (many of them standard) and still qualifies as a terrific value. If only it drove better. Moving Azera toward the sportier side of the category highlights suspension and steering shortcomings not uncommon in the Hyundai lineup – it's neither the most fun nor the softest-riding car in the class – but from a bang-for-the-buck perspective, the 2012 Azera is untouchable.You'll Like This Car If...
It's stylish, powerful and fuel-efficient, but the 2012 Hyundai Azera's clearest competitive advantage is its unique combination of features and value. If you like modern goodies and saving a buck, start your large-sedan search at the Hyundai dealer.You May Not Like This Car If...
The new Azera doesn't have the floaty, uncontrolled ride that afflicted its predecessor, but the suspension remains a weak spot. If you're all about highway ride – or struggle with occasional bouts of sport sedan grandeur, even – you can do better in the segment.What's New for 2012
The Azera needed a total makeover, and Hyundai delivered. The name and the badge are essentially all that remain from the previous model.Driving It Driving Impressions
The least impressive thing about the 2012 Hyundai Azera – at least when fitted with the larger 19-inch wheels – is how it drives. The engine and transmission combination is smooth, responsive and powerful, but the Azera's ride, handling and steering all leave something to be desired. The large sedan manages road imperfections with less poise than its competitors, and the fuel-saving electric power steering system makes for a car/driver relationship with little chemistry. The Azera can leave you feeling exposed where you want cover, and out of touch when you want a direct connection. Do these shortcomings amount to deal breakers? Not for most buyers. Just be sure to take a good test drive, and consider the 18-inch wheels (you'll save some money when the time comes for new tires, too).Favorite Features
One of our favorite features is actually a collection of many: the new Azera's impressive roster of standard features.
Heated front seats are increasingly common across all segments, but the 2012 Hyundai Azera's ventilated, cooling front seats and its even rarer heated rear seats are nice touches.
Especially when upgraded with the Technology Package, the 2012 Hyundai Azera's passenger cabin isn't just the most appealing in the category, it puts some luxury cars to shame. It offers more convenience and infotainment technologies than any of its competitors, good front seats (not a Hyundai trademark) and nine airbags including a driver's knee airbag that helps keep the driver seated upright and properly positioned in case of impact.Exterior
Stylish sheet metal, integrated exhaust outlets and crisp LED lighting all around – daytime running lights, taillights and side-mirror-integrated turn indicators – all contribute to the Azera's sporty, class-above charisma.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2012 Hyundai Azera has one of the category's higher starting sticker prices – $32,875 with destination – but also boasts the most impressive list of standard equipment. Highlights include a navigation system with 7-inch screen and backup camera, keyless entry and push-button start, front and rear heated leather seats, BlueLink telematics with OnStar-like safety and convenience services, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, plus iPod/USB and auxiliary audio ports. If you're not interested in all the high-tech goodness and don't want to pay for it, the 2012 Ford Taurus is available with fewer features starting at $26,350.Notable Optional Equipment
We're fans of simplified pricing setups, and the 2012 Hyundai Azera's is particularly uncomplicated. Either you go with the base model outlined above, or you spend another $4,000 – a grand total of $36,875 – for an appealing group of upgrades that includes a panoramic moonroof, ventilated (cooling) front seats, Infinity premium sound system, Xenon headlights, sunshades for all three rear windows, power driver's seat cushion extension (added thigh support for longer legs), seat position memory with power-adjustable steering wheel, rear parking sensors, and 19-inch wheels.Under the Hood
The 2012 Hyundai Azera features a powerful and efficient 3.3-liter V6 engine that sends power to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. It's among the category's more impressive powertrains.
293 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
255 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg
Even when Hyundai started making good cars, lagging resale values tainted their appeal to financially savvy car shoppers. Those days are almost completely in the rearview mirror, and Hyundai's most recent entries are enjoying above-average resale values. Along with one of the best warranties out there and a long list of appealing features, those improved resale expectations help qualify the 2012 Hyundai Azera – even starting at $32,875 – as an exceptional value.