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Hyundai wants you to think of a few words when you hear Azera, One is "azure" – the color of blue skies because it is an "optimistic color" (their words, not mine). The others are elegant and premium. If the Azera is anything, it is a huge step up from the XG350 that it replaces.

The look is much cleaner than the XG, if not a bit derivative. The saving-grace may very well be the arched rear fender that gives the car a little visual upheaval.

Under the hood is an all-new, all-aluminum 3.8-liter V6 engine that Hyundai is estimating at 265 horsepower, and compares the car to the LaCrosse and Five Hundred in their press kit. The V6 is mated to a five-speed auto with Shiftronic manual control.

2006 Hyundai Azera

The interior is also another huge leap from the XG and features dual-zone climate control, electronic tilt and telescoping steering column, memory driver?s seat, mirrors, steering column and foot pedals, rain-sensing windshield wipers and leather seating surfaces. On the option list is a 7-channel, 315-watt, 10 speaker with subwoofer Infinity audio system.

2006 Hyundai Azera

The Azera out-measures the XG in all directions, increasing the wheelbase by 1.1 inches.

On the safety side, standard features include electronic stability control with traction control, ABS with electronic brake distribution, front dual active headrests and eight airbags.

2006 Hyundai Azera

The Azera will be available at dealers this fall and will be sold in three trims; GLS, LX and Limited. No prices have been set, nor has a mileage estimate been determined yet for the new 3.8-liter engine. Backed by Hyundai?s warranty, the Azera may make some in roads in the near-luxury sedan segment.

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