2007 Azera New Car Test Drive
Remarkable for both its ambition and its achievement, Azera is Hyundai's entry into the full-size, near-luxury segment. Azera is a worthy alternative to the Toyota Avalon and Nissan Maxima. Introduced just last year as a 2006 model, Azera has already out-scored the highly regarded Toyota Avalon to earn second place in the segment in J.D. Power and Associate's 2006 Initial Quality Study. It was also rated the Most Appealing Large Car in J.D. Power's Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, and has received the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety's (IIHS) top crash test rating for frontal offset impacts. That's an impressive combination of accolades.
In design and styling, in creature comforts, powertrain and in safety features, Azera offers as much or more than anything else in the class, and at a lower price.
Azera's powertrain is the state of the art. The 3.8-liter V6 engine features variable valve timing for low emissions and a broad power curve, while the five-speed automatic gives the driver the option of shifting semi-manually, competitive features with Lexus, Infiniti and Acura. While there's nothing especially striking in Azera's design or styling, take off the Hyundai badge, and it could pass as family among any of the top-rated Japanese nameplates.
Inside, fit and finish set a new standard for the marque, with quality materials and assembly. There's a quiet elegance in the simplicity of the instruments, usability of the controls and sleekness of design. What isn't readily visible received the same attention as what is, with hardware studiously hidden away and storage bins fully finished. All is not perfection. Some of the faux leather feels more like vinyl than bovine. But the overall presentation is upscale.
At a more practical level, the Azera equals or betters the competition in standard equipment, with special emphasis on safety. Eight airbags are standard, as are electronic stability control, traction control, antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and active front seat head restraints. Rain-sensing windshield wipers, more commonly found only on high-end cars, are available.
Changes for 2007 are minimal. Steering wheel audio controls with seek up/down are now standard on all models. Azera Limited models now come with an enhanced electroluminescent instrument cluster. Sideview mirrors with integral turn-signal indicators are now included in the Ultimate Package. And black leather interiors are now accented with light gray stitching.
The 2007 Hyundai Azera comes in two models: the SE ($24,535) and the Limited ($27,135). Both are powered by a 3.8-liter V6 rated at 263 horsepower. The Azera is front-wheel drive and comes with a five-speed automatic transmission with a Shiftronic feature.
The SE comes with cloth upholstery; dual-zone climate control; four-way driver and two-way passenger power front seats; power windows, mirrors and central locking with keyless remote; leather-trimmed, tilt-and-telescope steering wheel and shift knob; cruise control; AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with steering wheel-mounted controls; bi-level front center console; and 16-inch wheels. The SE Premium Package ($1,800) adds a power tilt-and-slide sunroof; premium stereo with in-dash, 6CD changer; and heated front seats. Dealer-installed accessories include floor mats ($85); wheel locks ($40); sunroof wind deflector ($85); trunk floor mat ($90); and composite cargo tray ($90).
The Limited steps up with leather-trimmed seats (heated in front), woodgrain and leather-wrapped steering wheel, powered rear sunshade, 17-inch wheels and Michelin tires. The Limited Premium Package ($1550) adds the power sunroof and premium stereo. The Ultimate Package ($2550) includes the sunroof and stereo plus power adjustable pedals and tilt-and-telescope steering wheel; memory for the driver's seat, mirrors, and steering column; rain-sensing wipers; and power folding outside mirrors with new-for-2007 integrated turn signal indicators.
Safety features are comprehensive, including state-of-the-art frontal airbags, full-coverage side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, active head restraints for the front seats, and LATCH child safety seat anchors. All five seating positions have adjustable head restraints and three-point belts; the front seatbelts have pre-tensioners and height-adjustable shoulder loops. Active safety features for crash avoidance include antilock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic stability control and traction control.