The Hyundai Azera is the forgotten child of the Hyundai brand. It’s great, but it’s overshadowed by the Sonata and Genesis. Shame, really.
Having the Hyundai Genesis V6 and a Hyundai Azera within a couple weeks of one another made me realize something: I like all Hyundais Each one is really good in its own way. The Genesis is a rear-wheel drive master that takes on the likes of the honorable Cadillac CTS V-Sport, while the Azera is a front-wheel drive people hauler with the similar comforts and amenities, but, like I said, it’s not rear-wheel drive.
- The engine is a 3.3-liter V6 293 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque, slightly less than the 311 horsepower and 293 lb-ft of torque in the 3.8-liter Genesis V6. The Azera’s motor is smooth and has good torque coming off a stop light, and the 6-speed automatic is very good in its duties.
- Styling, in my opinion, is nice and subdued in a relaxing way. The car looks long and wide, sporty even, but getting to the rear of the car there’s a weird long-ness to the bumper with the exhaust tips poking out. It’s not my favorite.
- The car handles well for a large front-wheel driver, surprisingly. Turn the wheel and the front tires happily bite and the car can keep good pace through the twisty bits. I started out on one of my usual sporty driving routes to see what kind of disappointment might ensue. I was happy to find out that I enjoyed the abilities of a car that’s meant to cruise but still be lively enough. Brakes are also really good for a car of such size and capabilities. Obviously they’re not meant for a GT-R, but they work really well.
- The most confusing part for me is the price of the Azera Limited. My tester came with only one option package and $110 carpeted floor mats (why aren’t these standard by now?), the $2,150 premium package. That gives the Azera 19-inch wheels with 245/40s at all corners, panoramic sunroof, power rear sunshade, manual side window shades for rear passengers, rear parking assistance (the beeping things). After an $895 destination fee, the Azera Limited goes from $34,750 to $37,905. In other words: only $1,045 shy of a base Genesis 3.8 V6 sedan, or roughly 20-some dollars a month difference (this of course depends on interest rates, incentives, etc.).
- Interior fit and finish is interesting on the Azera. It’s not that it isn’t nice, because it is. But there’s a faux carbon fiber instead of something less sports car-ish. Every seat is comfy and relaxing with seat controls on the doors closest to the side mirrors, which is very Mercedes-esque. Fine by me, because it looks good. There is a lot of plastic for something being close to 40 grand. But with every BMW having loads of plastic inside on cars costing more, I guess it’s tough to complain.
- Space inside is also very good, with rear legroom feeling like you’re in the larger Hyundai Equus. Trunk space is abundant. So much so that one day while at the gym, it was a gorgeous day outside, so the trainer and I decided to do sled pushes out in the front lawn of the shopping area. I loaded up close to 200 pounds in bumper plates, and the 70 pound (give or take) sled in the trunk. It all fit, amazingly. We usually end up carrying the sled back and forth.
- Riding comfort is fantastic. You can cruise in the Hyundai Azera like its a Lexus, but costing less, obviously. Over bumps and holes it goes with the flow without ever letting the passengers know there’s any issue.
- Having the rear sunshades are a plus for some, but I never really find myself using such an option. Now the heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats are great for everyone. Even in the winter I still use the cooled seats.
One thing you have to ask yourself when buying a new Hyundai sedan is how much you can spend. Spending 35,000 will get you a fully loaded Sonata, a couple grand more will get you the Azera Limited, and just a thousand more puts you in a Genesis V6. The compelling case for the Azera is that it’s meant more for luxury and less sport than the Genesis, but it’s larger than the Sonata. Sadly the Azera will probaby go the way of the birds in a few years, but it’ll be hard for me to not recommend it to anyone not looking for a sport sedan under $40,000.