2016 Azera New Car Test Drive
Hyundai Azera offers dramatic styling and full-size comfort to distinguish it from the typical family car. Azera comes surprisingly close in terms of features and refinement to premium sedans like the Toyota Avalon and Buick LaCrosse.
The Azera is just a half-step larger than Hyundia's midsize Sonata, but receives a V6 engine, loads of standard equipment, and a comfort-tuned suspension that makes travel a pleasure. It's topped off with expressive bodywork and interior detailing on par with more expensive sedans.
Although it's thoroughly contemporary, the Azera delivers all the traditional luxury car virtues. It's exceptionally smooth and quiet. Interior appointments are pleasant but tasteful. Passenger room is generous. The trunk can swallow several sets of golf clubs.
The Azera balances these attributes with responsive handling and performance. The 3.3-liter V6 produces a healthy 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels. The Azera is EPA-rated at 20/29 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined.
The current Azera debuted in 2012 and was updated for 2015 for a more prestigious appearance. For 2016, the Limited model gets adaptive cruise control and an electronic parking brakes as standard.
Azera ($34,100) comes standard with premium features, including leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, navigation, keyless ignition, a chilled glovebox, blind spot monitoring, and a 14-speaker Infiniti sound system.
Azera Limited ($39,300) adds a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, front collision alert, audio upgrades, and more.
The Azera has a highly sculptured appearance that gets more interesting the closer you look. Almost every surface is subtly curved or creased for a sense of movement. Linear chrome trim on the lower doors and window frames provides definition and a formal touch.
The front end features a wide, angular grille and xenon headlamps that wrap around the corners. LED foglamps are set in the lower portion of the bumper. Around back are full-width LED lights and dual exhaust outlets with metallic trim. The overall effect is upscale and dynamic. We think the Azera is among the most attractive full-size sedans on the road.
With its sweeping two-tier dashboard and blue accent lighting, the Azera looks sportier on the inside than most sedans of this size. The lower portion matches the upholstery color and recedes at the ends for extra legroom. The climate-controlled seats provide all-day comfort and a multitude of power adjustments. Controls are arrayed in a pictographic style on the door panel. There's plenty of space for small items in the center console and a covered bin below the climate controls. A driver knee airbag and rear side airbags come standard, along with sunshades on the Limited.
Materials are soft to the touch and pleasantly textured. Low-gloss metallic trim is deployed in all the right places. While the interior may lack the fine finishes of the best luxury sedans, its quality and layout are top-notch.
Rear passengers enjoy an abundance of legroom and an array cupholders and storage pockets. The sloping roofline limits headroom somewhat, especially in the middle position. Taller passengers are advised to take the outboard positions, which have cutouts in the headliner for more space at the top. They'll still have to duck while climbing in and out.
At 16.3 cubic feet, trunk space is above average, even for this class, and Limited models are equipped with a hands-free opener. The split-folding rear seat provides additional cargo-carrying possibilities.
The V6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission provide smooth and confident performance. Takeoffs are brisk, and there's more than enough power for passing and merging at highway speeds. The transmission features a manual mode, but shifts are quick enough without it.
The Azera hustles from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, a good showing for a sedan of this size. Once you're ready to cruise, the engine settles down to a barely perceptible state.
Without a four-cylinder or hybrid in the lineup, the Azera isn't the most efficient choice in this class. It aims for a balance of power and economy that's likely to satisfy the majority of buyers. There is, however, an Active Eco driving mode that reduces fuel consumption by 7 percent, albeit at some loss of performance.
The suspension does an excellent job filtering out road imperfections without compromising handling. The Azera feels connected to the road at the times, whether you're negotiating curves or crossing harsh pavement. The electric power steering system provides satisfying feel and quick response you need it. Although this Azera is foremost a comfy cruiser, it's in full control of its motions.
Ride quality ranks among the best you can get without springing for a high-dollar sedan. Passengers are effectively isolated from noise and vibrations of all kinds, leaving just a relaxing sense of motion and the occasional engine purr. This level of rolling smoothness is what clearly separates the Azera from a mass-market sedan like Sonata.
The Azera's catchy styling does limit rear visibility to a degree. The rearview camera really comes in handy when parking, and the blind spot monitors take the guesswork out of changing lanes.
Hyundai Azera blurs the lines between a luxury sedan and one that's merely nice. It scores well enough in style, comfort, and amenities to compete with cars costing thousands more. The difference may only be a matter of details and perception. Aside from that, the Azera can properly be called a luxury car.