2006 Hyundai Azera Road Test
From its BMW 5-Series-styled trunk lid to its cozy, spacious interior, the Hyundai Azera has a lot to offer. This is a very nice car at an extremely attractive price.
A neighbor noted that Hyundai has done its homework with the Azera, which replaces the XG350 as the flagship sedan of the Hyundai line this year.
Azera qualifies as a midsize car and thus competes with the Camry, Accord and Ford Fusion, among others in a crowded field. While the field may be crowded, the interior of the Azera isnt. Its spacious and offers great comfort.
Passengers sit in cloth-covered seats (in the SE; the Limited offers leather-faced seats), with excellent leg, head and shoulder room. Even rear seat passengers have excellent legroom. In fact, only the Chevy Malibu and discontinued Ford Taurus offer more rear legroom. Rear passengers also have separate HVAC controls.
For those of you, like me, who are addicted to caffeine, there are two cup holders up front and a pair in the rear in the pull-down armrest.
Besides comfortable seating, the Azera adds interesting features that make it a pleasure to spend time in. For example, theres a nice shelf below the HVAC system in the center stack that can stow easy-to-reach objects. Theres also a cubby and an ash tray at the bottom of the center stack. Ahead of the shifter is a small cell phone holder thats the right size for, well, cell phones. In the center is a deep console with a 12-volt outlet, with a matching outlet for rear passengers. And there are pockets in the doors with flip-out hard sides.
The console has a nice brushed aluminum finish to hide fingerprints.
Even the sun visors have extensions in case you need extra sun protection.
For entertainment, theres an interesting audio system that works fine once you figure out how the controls work. The HVAC system cooled the car quickly in some hot summer weather. Sorry, but I didnt check the heater, but if its as good as the cooling, then theres nothing to worry about.
Under the hood is a 263-horsepower double overhead cam V6 that delivers more than enough power for the Azera, which weighs just over 3,600 pounds. The engine is mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. We never had to use the shift mode in serious driving, but in practice sessions we were able to shift as easily with this one as we have been with others that use the shifter rather than paddles behind the steering wheel. But, the Azera is not a performance car, its a comfortable sedan, so paddle shifters arent necessary.
We checked under the hood to be sure there wasnt any other kind of engine, and found the dipsticks and fillers to be easy to locate. A single gas strut held the hood up while we were exploring.
The trunk is listed at nearly 17 cubic feet. I thought it was huge, as did my golfing buddies, who were impressed with how easily their golf bags fit in the rear. The rear seat backs fold 60/40 to increase trunk capacity and provide a longer cargo box.
On the road, the Hyundai Azera is as quiet as anything in its class, and maybe one or two classes up from this price point. Wind noise was well subdued and road noise was at a whisper.
At light throttle, the engine felt as quiet as some V8s, though I thought that the throttle was a bit too sensitive when you tap the gas pedal from a stop. This sensitivity will take some getting used to, but once you have driven it for a week, you will hardly notice it and might even like it. At full throttle, there is a strong growl that is coupled with healthy acceleration. Shifting from the 5 speed automatic was smooth and always seemed to pick the right gear for most driving conditions.
The ride was smooth and quite comfortable on most road surfaces. Handling felt safe and secure, but when pressed into a corner at any kind of speed, the tires begin to protest and the car leaned a bit. The Limited has more performance oriented tires on 17 inch wheels and should do quite a bit better then the 16 inch rubber on our SE tester.
The Azera is no sport sedan, but it can easily pass as a luxury sedan, especially if you opt for the Limited with the leather interior.
The Hyundai Azera does do its job well at an attractive price point. For about $25,000, you get a sedan with dual zone climate controls, an 8-way power driver seat and a 4-way power passenger seat, side air bags for both the front seat passengers AND the rear seat passengers, Traction control and Stability control, even a universal remote transmitter to open your garage door. These are features normally found on cars costing thousands more.
To top it all off, the Hyundai Azera comes with a 10 year, 100,000 mile power train warranty as well as a 5 year, 60,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty. The warranty covers roadside assistance for 7 years with unlimited miles as well as rust through for 7 years with unlimited miles. You cant complain about that.
2006 The Auto Page Syndicate