Vital Stats

Engine:
3.3L V6
Power:
293 HP / 255 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Automatic
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,605 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
16.3 CU-FT
MPG:
20 City / 29 HWY
Finally Focusing On The FWD Luxury Game



Luxury used to be so simple in this country. Life was demarcated by a series of vehicular gradations from Chevrolet to Oldsmobile, Oldsmobile to Buick and finally, when one had clambered up every last rung of the socioeconomic ladder, Buick to Cadillac. But that was generations ago, a time before German automakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz quietly brushed aside makes like Lincoln and Cadillac to establish themselves as the pinnacle of luxury. It was before names like Acura, Infiniti and Lexus elbowed their way up to the luxury buffet as well.

These days, buyers with an eye toward a comfortable, well-equipped vehicle have more options than nearly any other customer thanks to the careful segmentation of the luxury market. Hyundai has long positioned itself as an automaker that knows how to give buyers heaps of content for their dollar, and vehicles like the Genesis and Equus have proven the Korean company can play on the luxury field with the rest of the rear-wheel-drive bruisers out there.

For 2012, the company has sharpened its nearly forgotten Azera to give front-wheel-drive luxury buyers something else to chew on. With its new exterior, gorgeous cabin, V6 power and a host of standard equipment, the sedan is a natural alternative to hardware like the Toyota Avalon, Buick LaCrosse and Ford Taurus.
2012 Hyundai Azera side view2012 Hyundai Azera front view2012 Hyundai Azera rear view

Hyundai is on a new-product war path. The company's plan to unveil seven new or significantly redesigned vehicles in just 24 months has officially come to fruition with the introduction of the 2012 Azera. This model is the last in that ambitious push, and as such, it wears plenty of design elements borrowed from those that came before it. It would be difficult to miss the similarities between the sweeping chrome grille and wrapped headlights of the Azera and those found on company's Sonata. The design is somewhat more toned down in the new application, and the front fascia actually manages to look more menacing than melted.

Details like LED trim work in the headlights and prominent fog lamps also help give the 2012 Azera additional presence up front. Move to the vehicle's side, and it's clear the sedan's contour lines wander less than those found on the Sonata. The rear quarter wears pronounced haunches, and while the chrome strip along the hood line is a bit odd, it doesn't look out of place on the exterior. The sculpted, wing-like side mirrors are a nice touch as well, as are the standard 18-inch wheels. Buyers may also opt for 19-inch rollers if they so desire.

Around back, the Azera has borrowed a page from the Dodge playbook with an LED taillamp display that stretches across the full width of the vehicle. Otherwise, the Azera boasts a fairly subdued rump, though a pair of integrated chrome-bezel exhaust outlets poke through rear valance to help add a bit of substance.

2012 Hyundai Azera headlight2012 Hyundai Azera grille2012 Hyundai Azera wheel2012 Hyundai Azera taillight

Combined, the exterior is a huge improvement over the frankly dated lines of the 2011 model, and the interior keeps up the pace. The dash features a multi-layer design that's attractive and engaging without sacrificing functionality. A standard seven-inch navigation touchscreen dominates the center stack, and brushed accent trim provides a nice contrast to the soft touch cover and gloss trim spread elsewhere across the dash. The driver is treated to a contoured, leather-wrapped steering wheel complete with all of the buttons necessary to control the vehicle's various systems. Attractive gauges have also supplanted the ancient dials found on the 2011 model, and a useful center-mounted LCD screen between the speedometer and tachometer conveys a variety of information, as well.

Hyundai has focused on keeping the Azera as light as possible, and the rakish four-door weighs in at 3,605 pounds. For perspective, bruisers like the Buick LaCrosse and Ford Taurus tip the scales at an extra 200 and 400 pounds, respectively. Typically, that translates into a smaller cabin, and while it's true the Azera is a good deal shorter than both of the American four-doors, engineers have managed to retain an impressive level of interior volume. Despite being over three inches shorter stem-to-stern than the 2012 LaCrosse, the 2012 Azera bests the Buick and the Ford in front leg room by 3.8 and 3.6 inches, respectively. Hyundai even beats out the Toyota Avalon by 4.2 inches in front leg room.

2012 Hyundai Azera interior2012 Hyundai Azera front seats2012 Hyundai Azera gauges2012 Hyundai Azera seat controls

Rear passengers will find the Azera a bit more cramped than other alternatives in the segment, however. The Korean sedan delivers 36.8 inches of rear leg room, which is easily bested by the competitors mentioned above. That's despite the fact that the vehicle's 107 cubic feet of passenger volume is larger than the Lacrosse, Taurus and Avalon. Blame the aggressive, four-door coupe like shape for pushing the rear seats forward.

While the 2012 Azera comes loaded with a pile of standard equipment, including a cooled glove box, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, navigation and rearview camera, buyers may also choose a few interesting options. A power sun shade for the rear glass is available, and manual shades can also be had for both rear windows. Of course, our favorite option is the perfectly huge panoramic sunroof. Check it out in the Short Cut below.


Hyundai has graced the 2012 Azera with more horsepower and better fuel economy than the vehicle's predecessor, and it has done so with a smaller-displacement V6 engine. While the 2011 Azera made use of a 3.8-liter V6, the 2012 model gets along with just 3.3 liters. The addition of a direct-injection fuel system helps bump final output to 293 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 255 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm thanks to a higher compression ratio of 11.5:1. The old mill did account for more torque, though we think drivers will hardly miss it. When it comes to power, the 3.3-liter engine is a dynamo, putting out more horsepower per liter than the V6 options found in everything from the Nissan Maxima to the Acura TL. In fact, only the 3.6-liter V6 found in the Buick Lacrosse boasts more grunt with 303 ponies.

The engine is bolted to a six-speed automatic transmission that funnels power to the front wheels and helps account for the Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy rating of 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. Those numbers mark improvements of 1 mpg city and two mpg highway over the previous generation.

2012 Hyundai Azera engine

We typically turn shy any time an automaker begins putting impressive horsepower to the front wheels, but Hyundai has managed to keep torque steer drama at bay in the 2012 Azera. That's partly thanks to clever gearing. Go for broke with the accelerator and the vehicle simply pulls forward confidently, dispatching slower traffic with glee. As impressive as the acceleration can be, the six-speed automatic is the real star of the driveline. Shifts are imperceptibly smooth and well timed. The gearbox is perfect for a vehicle designed to lure older, more affluent buyers out of their Lexus and onto the Hyundai floor.

We found the steering a bit numb and overly light, though this isn't a segment particularly renowned for its driver engagement. The 2012 Azera is blessed with a confident enough brake pedal, however, and a ride that's soft enough to be comfortable without straying too far into marshmallow territory.

If you're getting the impression that we like the Azera, you haven't been led astray. The car feels good to drive, looks stylish enough to hold its head high among some of the segment's more anonymous contenders and delivers an attractive interior loaded with content. It will also set you back $32,000 plus an $875 destination and handling fee. That's an ambitious markup over the outgoing Azera, which started at around $25,500, but this is a whole lot more car.

2012 Hyundai Azera rear 3/4 view

That pricing, lest one forget, is also a good spot higher than the $25,555 Ford asks for the Taurus and the $30,170 Buick commands for the LaCrosse, but below the $33,195 MSRP on the aging Toyota Avalon. If we're honest, the 2012 Azera easily outclasses those vehicles in terms of interior quality, putting it squarely in contention with the likes of the questionably styled 2012 Acura TL at $35,605, not to mention the $36,725 Lexus ES.

Had someone challenged us to name 10 mid-sized luxury or near-luxury sedans two months ago, we can't say the Azera would have been at the forefront of our minds. The previous generation found itself saddled with bland styling and an also-ran interior that simply didn't dovetail with the rest of the now-impressive Hyundai product portfolio (especially the less costly Sonata, which had improved to the point that it was a better, more accommodating car). The 2012 Azera has changed all that. With a powerful and fuel-efficient direct-injection V6 engine, smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission and a beautiful interior, the Azera is nothing short of well-executed.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 132 Comments
      postpast
      • 2 Years Ago
      cool sunroof, couple things. I on't think the boy racer center dash works on this type of car, and second, Why does the auto shifter look like a manual
      Trent
      • 2 Years Ago
      I just bought one today right after the test drive. I spent the following day driving all of its competitors and at the end of the day this was easily the best to pick from and the most well rounded car. I looked at the new Lexus ES350, the Maxima, the Ford Taurus, and the TL. I downloaded the free iPhone app that allows you to remote start the car, unlock the doors and it works beautifully. Test drive this car if you get a chance...
      Kvilleredoes
      • 2 Years Ago
      I own this vehicle, it is a wonder driving car...the TECH package has cooled front seats, the large sunroof, memory seats, leather that feels like glove leather, side shades, seat extender and so much more, I strongly suggest IF you can find one, drive it and see why there are NONE at the dealership!!! Just think luxury without the cost of expensive maintenance...think Hyundai has hit the nail on the head with this one!!!
      Bea Binene
      • 2 Years Ago
      York Reyes is so cute - bili kayo ng total girl magazine it is so cool hheeheh i like york reyes she is so cute i love her hahah :). nagkaaberya si York Reyes sa loob ng Hyundai Azera? Posible kayang ilipat muna si York Reyes sila sa Hyundai Azera? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esN7H2HWtys or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ul8eCvJFRo
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        robertlyt
        • 2 Years Ago
        You can "see" that it causes cancer? How does that work? Is it like how I can see how you cause Blog Pollution?
          • 2 Years Ago
          @robertlyt
          [blocked]
        Alex
        • 2 Years Ago
        Whoops, musta been referring to the Civic there
      usa1
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's funny but the overstyled nature of recent Hyundais are looking dated already to me.
        ctsmith1066
        • 2 Years Ago
        @usa1
        This seems to be a fairly consistent maxim--the more aggressive the design, and the more it depends on contemporary design elements, the more quickly it begins to look dated. This is by no means universal, but it is consistent. And I think this applies very well to the new Hyundai design philosophy. They've taken good lengths to make sure their designs are aggressively new or modern, and incorporate pervasive design elements that one would expect to see on much more expensive design-oriented marques. This ambition is admirable, but perhaps doomed. In 10 years or so the current generation of Sonata and Elantra are going to be the sort of cars you roll your eyes at. I think the Azera design is a little more restrained, so it might age better. But the whole aesthetic comes off as gimmicky to me.
          Zoom
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ctsmith1066
          In 10 years Hyundai won't care... they'll be on some other new design.
          ctsmith1066
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ctsmith1066
          That's not entirely the case. Sure, Hyundai will be on to other designs, but the iterations of those future designs will depend on future feedback on the current designs--and how they age will certainly be a consideration. Also, if the designs don't age well, it could negatively impact future resale values.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        • 2 Years Ago
        [blocked]
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      1STH
      • 2 Years Ago
      terrible...as all hyundais have been in the past 2 years.
      g2k
      • 2 Years Ago
      they should call this the Hyundai Camry
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        robertlyt
        • 2 Years Ago
        It means it won't feel like a stripped out Chinese car, like the Civic does now.
        ChriZTraX
        • 2 Years Ago
        "EPA estimates for comparison only. Your actual mileage may vary with options, driving conditions, driving habits, and vehicle's condition. Highway mileage listed." :)
      SYJ
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ok, the review was OK until I got to the part about the Azera "easily" outclassing Lacrosse in interior quality. Come on guys, why must you do this in every review? Why do you suddenly not like a competitor's vehicle after spending time in a newer vehicle at a press launch event. The Lacrosse interior is BETTER than what you get in the more expensive Genesis so I have a hard time believing that the Azera "easily" whips the Buick in terms of quality. The Taurus is already 3 years old and it about to get a new interior for 2013. Even the Avalon's recently updated interior is pretty nice- although not as nice as the Buick. The Lacrosse has beat the ES350 in a couple comparos so suggesting that the Azera is so good that its barely worth comparing to the Buick but is comparable to the Lexus makes no sense.
        Jesus!
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SYJ
        They are owned by AOL. Enough said.
        Bruce Lee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SYJ
        Because they get treated like royalty at Press events meant to make them hype the newest thing.
        froston
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SYJ
        Have u sat in the lacrosse and new azera? Pictures don't do interior quality justice.
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