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Edmunds Full Test: Hyundai Azera

37 posts in this topic

pow    106

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drive...cleId=109613#18

Hyundai builds a real luxury car

By Erin Riches Email

Date posted: 03-16-2006

He stared at our 2006 Hyundai Azera Limited a little too long and he knew it.

When we met his glance, he laughed in disbelief and embarrassment. "That's the best Hyundai I've ever seen," he said, almost choking right there in the Best Buy parking lot.

We understood. Other Hyundais are unassuming cars, priced low, packed with features, backed by long warranties. Performance is usually average. Styling is usually a little off. Buying one makes you feel smart, never spoiled.

But the Azera is different. Hyundai's new flagship has all the expected Hyundai virtues, yet it looks, feels and drives like a premium Japanese car. Its XG350 predecessor was faux luxury, but the Azera is the real thing. Peel off the funky "H" badges and you might mistake its spacious, upscale interior for that of a Toyota Avalon.

Until you see the price, that is. Just $30,000 for a loaded Azera Limited like ours. To get an Avalon equipped like that, you'd have to spend over $3,000 more.

Looks surprisingly good

It doesn't matter if you're distrustful of Hyundais. You're going to fall for the Azera just like the guy at Best Buy did.

This almost full-size sedan looks approachable, normal, likable and, from the front, not unlike an '04 Acura RL. Hyundai's designers used plenty of chrome but stayed within the taste barrier.

Inside, the Azera pours on the hospitality with surprising artistry. A crisp character line runs from the dash through to the door panels, encircling the driver and front passenger. It's an elegant ribbon of textured vinyl, really good faux wood and metallic piping. Just a subtle design cue, but along with the cabin's tight construction, it's enough to make this Hyundai feel like a full-on luxury sedan.

Although we weren't as impressed by the plastic used for the window buttons and control stalks, overall materials quality hits a high standard. The leather upholstery is soft and double-stitched. And it's almost impossible to distinguish between the soft vinyl and harder plastic surfaces on the dash, because everything is so smooth and low in gloss.

Mismatched interior lighting is another minor complaint. There's yellow-green illumination for the center stack controls; red, white and blue for the electroluminescent gauges; and orange for the trip computer. It doesn't look horrible, but a single color scheme would better suit the Azera's ambience.

Ergonomics are a mixed bag. The controls are well organized, but many of the buttons are of like shape, size and texture, so using them isn't terribly intuitive. The interior trunk release is also a problem. Although conveniently mounted on the driver door rather than the floor, it's not illuminated at night, so we often popped the fuel door instead of the trunk lid.

Rides and handles surprisingly well

As impressed as we were by the Hyundai Azera's classy digs, the driving experience was even more of a revelation. Granted, this isn't an athletic car like the Nissan Maxima or Chrysler 300. But the Azera is every bit as capable and refined as the Avalon.

You can feel that refinement as soon as you touch the steering wheel. Feedback is minimal, but the Azera's steering has a slick, accurate feel. It's perfect for parking lot maneuvers and reassuring through high-speed turns.

On the highway, the Azera's fully independent double-wishbone front, multilink rear suspension provides a relaxing yet controlled ride. We initially noted slight harshness over expansion joints, but it turned out that our test car's 225/55R17 Michelin Energy tires were significantly overinflated. Resetting them to the correct psi solved the problem.

The Azera's interior is also very quiet at higher speeds. At 70 mph, noise levels are about the same as they are in the Avalon.

On a twisty road, the Azera exhibits moderate body roll but predictable motions, gently transitioning to understeer when pushed beyond its comfort zone. We got a respectable 62 mph out of it through the slalom, which is faster than the Avalon.

Strong engine, strong brakes

This front-wheel-drive Hyundai is also plenty quick. Equipped with variable intake valve timing, the Azera's all-aluminum, DOHC, 3.8-liter V6 provides 263 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 255 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. This translates to more than enough thrust for passing and merging maneuvers, and the five-speed automatic transmission upshifts smoothly under full throttle. Downshifts are prompt, too, though there's slight hesitation if you jump on the accelerator abruptly in traffic.

Our test car posted a swift 7.2-second 0-60-mph time and a 15.5-second quarter-mile, right in line with the numbers we've gotten out of the Avalon, which has a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V6. Interestingly, the Azera is also a half-second quicker to 60 than a V8-equipped Buick Lucerne, which we tested the same day.

In addition, the Azera's brakes are excellent. Pedal feel is progressive during normal driving. Although effort levels increase markedly during full ABS stops and the car's front end droops, it's hard to argue with the results: 60 to zero in 118 feet.

Mediocre fuel economy is the only real shortcoming of the Hyundai's performance. The car's 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway rating is certainly respectable, but our 17.7-mpg average wasn't encouraging.

Most of the features you'll want

Rest assured that the Azera's fine furnishings and polished driving dynamics don't come at the expense of the generous features list expected on a Hyundai. All Azeras come with stability control, a complete menu of side airbags, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel.

Upgrading to an Azera Limited gives you leather upholstery and front-seat heaters, and our tester also had the Ultimate Package, which provides a 10-speaker Infinity sound system with an in-dash CD changer, a sunroof, driver memory, a power tilt-telescoping steering wheel, adjustable pedals and rain-sensing wipers. Our total bill was $29,995.

It's a very livable setup, so long as you're not one of those people who fiends for the latest technology. If you must have a navigation system, Bluetooth or adaptive cruise control, you'll have to get the Toyota.

Full-size comfort

Although the Azera's wheelbase is a couple inches shorter than the Avalon's, carrying five people in Hyundai's flagship is still a humane proposition.

Four out of five editors found the driving position too high, but the front seats themselves are nicely shaped and cushioned. Active front head restraints promise additional protection in a rear-end crash, yet are plush enough to cradle your head during a long commute.

Based on the specs, the Azera has the highest measured front legroom in the class, but one 6-foot-2 driver said he needed more seat-track travel.

There's also plenty of legroom in back, and the liberally cushioned seat-bottom and back cushions are perfectly angled to support adult occupants. The Limited's standard power rear sunshade is another plus, but the Azera does give up about an inch of shoulder room and hiproom to the Avalon. Besides that, the Toyota's near flat rear floor makes it a slightly more practical choice for carpoolers.

Around back you'll find the trunk opening a little high for hoisting overstuffed luggage, but the cargo hold measures a spacious 16.6 cubic feet. Plus, the rear seats fold down in 60/40 sections. For smaller items, the Azera's sturdy, pop-out front door bins proved handy.

A treat, not a trade-off

Unlike its XG350 predecessor, the Azera is more than a bundle of features with a low price. This full-size sedan is a complete package. It feels like a luxury car on the inside and delivers on that promise when you actually drive it.

Given the choice between a 2006 Hyundai Azera Limited and a Toyota Avalon XLS, we'd take the Azera. And not just because we're the cheapskates who grabbed the discounted floor-model TV from Best Buy.

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Flybrian    0

The interior simply looks functions poorly. I don't care how low-gloss everything else, the technicolor dreamcoat of color schemes is very irritating and cheap and the ergos suck in traditional Korean fashion.

To me, this isn't as much about how great the Azera is (its okay), but how lousy the 2006 Avalon is. Of course, we generally knew that.

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Intrepidation    846

I've yet to see an Azera, but my neighbor bought a Sonata a couple weeks ago and let me take a look. I have to wonder what people complain about so much in the interior. Cheap plastics? The dash, top of the door, and armrest were soft, the looked nice, and the car has a whole looked nice inside and out. If the Azera is the flagship, I'm sure it's as nice as they say.

Edited by Dodgefan

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regfootball    234

Let me just echo what i said in the other forum.

The AZERA looks like hell on the outside and is subpar on the inside. The interior is a hodgepodge of lame design (did students or interns work on this car?) and mismatched materials and poor materials and unappealing design. The cloth on the seats are horrible and don't match the mediocre plastic at all. And I am being nice. If you sit in it for a long time like I did, you clearly begin to see how this car is really a generation or two behind in design. The Sonata is just as bad. Again, we are talking discount third world product here. The hardware has improved, but the design says to everyone 'I bought a cheap ass car!'.

Fly, I liked your post here, but I would even get a LAVALON before one of these dungpiles.

Like I said in the other forum, if you want a Camry or Accord, JUST GET A FRICKIN CAMRY OR ACCORD! The new Camry is a yawner but its light years more appealing than this THING.

in 6 months when more new iron is out, the press will be panning this like everything else.

Edmunds is a bunch of idiots.

This car on the outside is one of the ugliest sedans available.

Jesus, Mr. Lutz. PLEASE put the 3.6 in the base Lucerne (and improve the cheap cloth seats too) and set it off to compete against this horrid Hyundai. PLEASE!

Edited by regfootball

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ponchoman49    23

I looked very closely at an Azera and was for the most part impressed. It was light years nicer looking than the dull/bland odd duck Avalon with it's naked decontented doors and hideous way too light fake wood and silly silver door coverings. The 2 examples I checked out even had better interior fit and finish than the Toyota which had larger gaps in a few spots and one even had a crooked seam on the door. The Azera has a much nicer/flashier look to the side of the vehicle because they weren't cheap like Toyota in decontenting the moldings and chrome trim and I much prefer the look of the front and rear instead of Toyotas droopy/dopey look. It even has a bigger trunk than the Avalon. This car would be my second choice to the magnificent looking Lucerne.

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ponchoman49    23

Let me just echo what i said in the other forum.

The AZERA looks like hell on the outside and is subpar on the inside.  The interior is a hodgepodge of lame design (did students or interns work on this car?) and mismatched materials and poor materials and unappealing design.  The cloth on the seats are horrible and don't match the mediocre plastic at all.  And I am being nice.  If you sit in it for a long time like I did, you clearly begin to see how this car is really a generation or two behind in design.  The Sonata is just as bad.  Again, we are talking discount third world product here.  The hardware has improved, but the design says to everyone 'I bought a cheap ass car!'.

Fly, I liked your post here, but I would even get a LAVALON before one of these dungpiles.

Like I said in the other forum, if you want a Camry or Accord, JUST GET  A FRICKIN CAMRY OR ACCORD!  The new Camry is a yawner but its light years more appealing than this THING.

in 6 months when more new iron is out, the press will be panning this like everything else.

Edmunds is a bunch of idiots.

This car on the outside is one of the ugliest sedans available.

Jesus, Mr. Lutz.  PLEASE put the 3.6 in the base Lucerne (and improve the cheap cloth seats too) and set it off to compete against this horrid Hyundai.  PLEASE!

Reg, what is wrong with the Lucerne's seats. They are some of the best I have ever sat in and the cloth is very luxurious and high quality. I agree with the engine though. The sooner they toss out the 3800 the better in this car.

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regfootball    234

Reg, what is wrong with the Lucerne's seats. They are some of the best I have ever sat in and the cloth is very luxurious and high quality. I agree with the engine though. The sooner they toss out the 3800 the better in this car.

Lucerne's cloth is ratty looking and not nice enough for a premium car, but at least its not really bad like the AZera's.

Edited by regfootball

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caddycruiser    50

I must say, I had an "odd" experience with the Azera too.

After going to the auto show, I have tons and tons of those bags with different cars and brands on them. Needed one that I could put my car cover in when not in use, and found the Hyundai one with a big Azera picture on it to fit best...with my father standing right next to me. This ensued, totally unprovoked:

Him: "What kind of car is that?"

Me: "The new Hyundai Azera--sort of competes with the Avalon or Lucerne. Really nice car, and cheap for what you get."

Him: "Now why doesn't GM or someone come out with a design like that? It doesn't really stand out, but it isn't over the top either."

Me: "YOU, of all people, like it?"

Him: "Well, yeah. It's not ugly and not boring either--just clean and uncluttered, and has that whole low price, long warranty thing."

Me: "Wow."

I'll admit, I never thought it was all that great looking either, and it really does look like a blend of a few different Hondas and Toyotas, as usual, but the reaction to it seems very good. I was also very impressed with the interior and general feel of quality at the auto show (always am with the Hyundais and Kias), and think it's terrific for the price.

Not the boldest or most daring, or even all that exciting, but should attain a pretty strong sales base and make a lot of buyers very happy.

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caddycruiser    50

Lucerne's cloth is ratty looking and not nice enough for a premium car, but at least its not really bad like the AZera's.

I agree. I like softer, thicker cloths...but there's just something odd and "eww" feeling about the Lucerne's cloth. Especially like it would just be disgusting after a few years of use, even with proper care. Odd, but true.

Just didn't seem like it would wear well, and a reason why I still like the harder/thinner stuff used in some cars...or at least soft stuff that feels high quality, like that in our Suburban.

Edited by caddycruiser

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boblutzfan    0

Let me just echo what i said in the other forum.

The AZERA looks like hell on the outside and is subpar on the inside.  The interior is a hodgepodge of lame design (did students or interns work on this car?) and mismatched materials and poor materials and unappealing design.  The cloth on the seats are horrible and don't match the mediocre plastic at all.  And I am being nice.  If you sit in it for a long time like I did, you clearly begin to see how this car is really a generation or two behind in design.  The Sonata is just as bad.  Again, we are talking discount third world product here.  The hardware has improved, but the design says to everyone 'I bought a cheap ass car!'.

Fly, I liked your post here, but I would even get a LAVALON before one of these dungpiles.

Like I said in the other forum, if you want a Camry or Accord, JUST GET  A FRICKIN CAMRY OR ACCORD!  The new Camry is a yawner but its light years more appealing than this THING.

in 6 months when more new iron is out, the press will be panning this like everything else.

Edmunds is a bunch of idiots.

This car on the outside is one of the ugliest sedans available.

Jesus, Mr. Lutz.  PLEASE put the 3.6 in the base Lucerne (and improve the cheap cloth seats too) and set it off to compete against this horrid Hyundai.  PLEASE!

I have sat in the Azera and was impressed. Your post is so bitter that you lose credibility. The Azera may not be for you, but it isn't that bad. It is worlds better than many GM, Ford and Chrysler cars when it comes to features and interior quality.

I am a GM man first and foremost, but I must say, the Azera has a better interior (in terms of material feel and layout) than 75% of GM cars. Only the Lucerne, DTS and STS are better.

GM and every other brand for that matter should be nervous at the quality of cars that the Koreans are turning out these days.

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Cory Wolfe    263

Reg is just... Reg, who is like a wpbharry mini me. :P Ignore him.

Anyways, again, I must say... The Azera? Well... it sure beats any of it's competitors. It looks nice, isn't overly large, performs well, and is a quality piece. The Avalon? Overpriced, overrated, and styled by a blind person... or so I'd hope. The Lucerne? Completely unoriginally styled with mediocre performance and quality... trying to be something it's not.

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Flybrian    0

Anyways, again, I must say... The Azera? Well... it sure beats any of it's competitors. It looks nice, isn't overly large, performs well, and is a quality piece....The Lucerne? Completely unoriginally styled with mediocre performance and quality... trying to be something it's not.

Seriously, you lack any experience with either car to make statements like these. And it just proves you'll pulling it from your :butthead:.

Shades of the BLS thread... :nono:

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Cory Wolfe    263

Seriously, you lack any experience with either car to make statements like these. And it just proves you'll pulling it from your :butthead:.

Shades of the BLS thread... :nono:

Let's see... I can easily compare test data for the the performance aspect and the Lucerne has a cheap interior. Need I say more? It doesn't take much, you know. I have eyes, I can read, I have hands, and I have feel. Ooh... wow... my ass, eh? I guess I like looking at and feeling my ass with my eyes and hands. Mmm... BV likes. :lol::rolleyes:

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pow    106

I completely agree with reg that the exterior of the Azera is still too Korean-domestic-market-from-a-second-tier-manufacturer. It's almost like a Crown Super Delux, but at least Toyota isn't selling the damn thing over here. The grille looks identical to the Elantra's, which itself is too mid-ninties. Even the Sonata looks fresher and more first-world.

I kinda like the interior, though. I like the design of the door panels and the seats, and in black, it's nice. It's better than the Lucerne's or the Avalon's, but still, I'd rather have those two over the Azera

Posted Image

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regfootball    234

I agree.  I like softer, thicker cloths...but there's just something odd and "eww" feeling about the Lucerne's cloth.  Especially like it would just be disgusting after a few years of use, even with proper care.  Odd, but true.

Just didn't seem like it would wear well, and a reason why I still like the harder/thinner stuff used in some cars...or at least soft stuff that feels high quality, like that in our Suburban.

yup, agree 100% completely on that one.

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regfootball    234

I completely agree with reg that the exterior of the Azera is still too Korean-domestic-market-from-a-second-tier-manufacturer. It's almost like a Crown Super Delux, but at least Toyota isn't selling the damn thing over here. The grille looks identical to the Elantra's, which itself is too mid-ninties. Even the Sonata looks fresher and more first-world.

I kinda like the interior, though. I like the design of the door panels and the seats, and in black, it's nice. It's better than the Lucerne's or the Avalon's, but still, I'd rather have those two over the Azera

Posted Image

I SO LOVE THE WAY THE CONSOLE FLOWS NICELY INTO THE CENTER STACK.

not! its like the two are not even connected! The only worse offenders in that regard are

Posted Image

I do agree that the steering wheel is nice and thick and has nice wood trim but the airbag cover design is left over from my 95 Thunderbird.

Posted Image

the seats we know are leftovers from early Catera production.

Edited by regfootball

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pow    106

I SO LOVE THE WAY THE CONSOLE FLOWS NICELY INTO THE CENTER STACK.

not!  its like the two are not even connected!  The only worse offenders in that regard are

Posted Image

I do agree that the steering wheel is nice and thick and has nice wood trim but the airbag cover design is left over from my 95 Thunderbird.

I so don't mind... if anything, I like the way the two pieces of wood attach.. like it goes on deeper.

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regfootball    234

THIS IS SO MUCH MORE DESIRABLE

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

AND AS MEDIOCRE THE NEW CAMRY'S interior is in a few spots its much nicer than the AZERA.

the TSX and TL have way nicer interiors. the A3 does. the jetta and passat do.

the silver finish on the azera console matches virtually nothing in the rest of the interior.

i will say i haven't seen it in black, but go check out the tan interior ones, its nasty. especially with cloth, that's where the mismatches really stand out.

another thing....they try so hard to integrate the design of the cabin with that 'wood' strip on the dash and door, but then nothing else at all about the doors relate to the dash at all. Likewise as i previously said, the console has no relation to the center stack or dash either. The style of the seats seems a bit lavish in relation to the sparse and grandpa styled dash. The console just zooms forward and the lone silver surface dies into what? nothing! the cutline on the door panels that separates the plastic from the soft trim is completely arbitrary. look below the center dash vents, there's nothing but bare plastic and a couple of small circular elements, not at all within scale to break up those floating globs of plastic. That's not how you catch someone's eye. The center stack is at a weird angle to the eye; its like its falling away from your eyesight visually. there's no connection. the scale of the whole 'floating dash' mass is not at all heavy enough in visual proportion. At least in the maxima the somewhat similar effect, the visual weight of the floating mass is within proper proportion, even if its shape is not pleasing. Let me also point out the really awkward gap between the upper dash and door panels. Its inconsistent and unresolved. It totally supercedes and breaks up the look of the floating dash which they kind of attemtp to blend into the door, but you can't get your eyes away from the gaping seam to have any attention on the blend.

not even chris bangle could hose it up this much!

Edited by regfootball

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regfootball    234

was Hyundai trying to mimmick this?

Posted Image

i can see then where some of the attemtps at form are in the azera dash. the console becomes somewhat of a knockoff, but at least toyota attemtps to terminate it and not end it lumina style. Also, toyota at least fills the center stack with enough stuff so its not just bare plastic below the vents. note also that the floating mass of the dashboard is much more in proportion. The dash flows into the console some at least, where the AZRA does not at all.

I'm not saying the AZRA's interior is like a 99 century. GOD NO. I just don't think it is a luxury car interior, nor is it as good as its being praised for in the press. Just like the new Civic. The new Civic's interior, aside from being bizarre is also mediocre. The Mazda 3's interior kicks ass all over the new civic in terms of design and interiors.

Camry, Accord, both nicer. Why not get the real thing?

Edited by regfootball

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HUMVEE    0

After going to the auto show, I have tons and tons of those bags with different cars and brands on them.  Needed one that I could put my car cover in when not in use, and found the Hyundai one with a big Azera picture on it to fit best

You mean you could fit a car cover for your Fleetwood in a auto show bag? That Azera bag must be as big as a duffle bag! :duh:

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The O.C.    2

Seriously, you lack any experience with either car to make statements like these. And it just proves you'll pulling it from your :butthead:.

Shades of the BLS thread... :nono:

Well, based upon your BOLD accents......BV could be referring to the performance of the Azera compared to the V8 Lucerne and how the Azera outaccelerates it by quite a bit...at least compared to buff magazine tests.

Also, in terms of quality, many of us on here have the opinion after sitting in both that the Hyundai has higher-quality materials inside than the Lucerne.

I'd say BV is right on track and not speaking out of line.....

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The O.C.    2

I SO LOVE THE WAY THE CONSOLE FLOWS NICELY INTO THE CENTER STACK.

not!  its like the two are not even connected!  The only worse offenders in that regard are

Posted Image

I do agree that the steering wheel is nice and thick and has nice wood trim but the airbag cover design is left over from my 95 Thunderbird.

Posted Image

the seats we know are leftovers from early Catera production.

As far as the Azera's dash-to-console, get inside one and look closely up under the dash where the console actually does attach.....and it's nicely-done and fits well. So, no it doesn't "flow" into the dash (a la Mazda6 for example) but it still looks like it was designed to fit properly. (unlike G6, Malibu for example.)

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regfootball    234

Well, based upon your BOLD accents......BV could be referring to the performance of the Azera compared to the V8 Lucerne and how the Azera outaccelerates it by quite a bit...at least compared to buff magazine tests.

Also, in terms of quality, many of us on here have the opinion after sitting in both that the Hyundai has higher-quality materials inside than the Lucerne.

I'd say BV is right on track and not speaking out of line.....

nope, the lucerne, while not great is a nicer overall presentation, especially with the tan leather. neither car is an audi

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