The Hyundai Azera is a large, near-luxury sedan that serves as a more shapely, less costly alternative to better-known four-doors, among them the Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon, Chevrolet Impala, and Ford Taurus.
The 2017 Azera carried over unchanged from 2016, except for some revised body-color choices. Azera was introduced as a 2012 model, so it is due for an update. Two trim levels are available, Azera and Azera Limited, the latter equipped with a panoramic sunroof and other features.
Azera relies on a strong V6 and refined ride comfort to attract buyers. Also helpful is a full-size back seat, which promises more stretch-out space than some other large sedans.
All models come with front-wheel drive and a 3.3-liter V6 engine that produces 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Hyundai’s 6-speed automatic transmission incorporates a Shiftronic manual mode to change gears at will, by hand. Fuel economy is about right for a sedan of this size, estimated by the EPA at 28 mpg Highway, using regular-grade gasoline.
Every Azera includes the latest version of Hyundai’s Blue Link connectivity system. When used in conjunction with a smartphone app, the system can provide parental control of the car’s limits when it’s to be driven by a teenager (or a parking valet).
Azeras score better than average in engine capability and ride comfort. A button-activated Active Eco feature helps a bit with gas mileage. When engaged, throttle and transmission responses are drawn out, and accessories function in a more conservative manner.
Crash-test scores are lacking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has never tested an Azera. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given it top Good scores in moderate frontal, side, and rear-impact crash-testing, but the more rigorous small frontal-overlap test has not been performed.
Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is standard, along with lane-change assist. Otherwise, Hyundai trails a bit in the area of leading-edge technical features, though a rearview camera is standard. That’s prudent, as outward visibility isn’t quite up to par, compared to some rival sedans. Nine airbags include a driver’s knee airbag and rear side-impact airbags.
Larger than the midsize Sonata, Azera is the Hyundai brand’s only sedan with a six-cylinder engine, apart from Genesis, the company’s luxury brand. Azera’s robust powertrain, coupled with a refined presence, make the bigger four-door feel more substantial than a Sonata. Azera comes well equipped.
Azera ($34,100) comes standard with navigation with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, leather seating surfaces, power front seats with ventilation, heated front/rear seats, pushbutton start, power steering column, rearview camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Audio is provided by a 550-watt Infinity Logic 7 system with 14 speakers. Hands-free trunk opening, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-change assist also are standard. Alloy wheels hold 18-inch tires. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $895 destination charge.)
Azera Limited ($39,300) upgrades with a panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control with stop/start capability, HID headlights, automatic high-beams, power rear sunshade, and 19-inch alloy wheels. Lane-departure and forward-collision warnings also are included.
The Azera presents a carefully sculpted collection of curves. The front end, in particular, links the Azera more closely with the recently added Genesis luxury-car brand.
Even though the Azera’s expressive design has been around for a while, it continues to look appealing. Bodysides are highlighted by twin creases, positioned apart from each other, but forming a cohesive entity. Overall, the Azera is 2.6 inches longer than the Sonata, Hyundai’s midsize family sedan, built on a slightly longer wheelbase.
Azera contains one of the best-looking interiors made by Hyundai, apart from its Genesis luxury-brand vehicles. In fact, the Azera feels quite tastefully luxurious, led by its cockpit-style, twin-tier configuration, augmented by soft-touch and matte-metallic surfaces. Bright interior trim is minimal. Two-tone layouts are available, with a darker upper tier to match the Azera’s upholstery.
Because an Azera is nearly as wide as some full-luxury models, passenger and cargo space excel. Unlike some mid- and full-size sedans, an Azera can seat five adults in reasonable comfort. Space is bountiful in both front and rear, with ample stretch-out room.
As is typical, the exception is the center rear spot, which is snug and harder-cushioned. Adults in outboard rear positions should have adequate head clearance, helped by recesses cut into the headliner.
Getting in and out of the back seat isn’t so easy, impaired by the Azera’s tapered roofline. Taller passengers must lean forward and duck heads while entering.
Front seats adjust to satisfy a broad range of passenger body types. Power-seat controls are mounted on each door.
Quietness is a virtue. Practically all road and wind sounds are subdued, and engine noise is evident only when pushing hard on the gas pedal.
Performance from Hyundai’s 3.3-liter V6 ranks above adequate. The V6 revs enthusiastically, reaching peak output at high engine speed. Helped by the 6-speed automatic transmission, an Azera responds quite smoothly and effectively. The range of gear ratios provided by the transmission permits swift startoffs from a standstill and energetic passing response, along with relaxed highway cruising.
Passenger comfort and confident control get the nod in both ride and handling qualities. Ride quality approaches the sublime. Only the most troublesome bumps and potholes are likely to be felt, or heard, within the Azera cabin.
Hyundai’s carefully-tuned suspension irons out minor pavement flaws without inducing any sense of floatiness, while yielding comparatively responsive handling capabilities. Electric power steering combines predictable weighting with effective centering. The sense of calm confidence is particularly reminiscent of lavish domestic cars from an earlier age.
Gas mileage falls into the average range for cars in the Azera’s class. The base sedan is EPA-rated at 20/28 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined. The Limited is EPA-rated slightly lower: 19/28 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined.
Hyundai Azera occupies a position between the family-oriented midsize Sonata and the Genesis G80. An impressive standard-equipment list, heavy on technology and luxury, includes a welcome number of current active-safety features, with others optional. Hyundai’s warranty also ranks among the best. A replacement is expected soon, however, so look for bargains on 2017 models.
Driving impressions by Marty Padgett, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.