In the early 2000s, Hyundai’s premium Azera sedan began as the XG300 and then the XG350, and it became the Azera for the 2006 model year, available in SE and Limited trims.
This upscale vehicle was offered at a lower price than similarly equipped competitors, with the Limited model featuring leather upholstery, power sunshades and a 500 watt, 10-speaker Infinity audio system. Both 2006 models were powered by a 263-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 engine.
Model year 2007 brought a smaller, more fuel efficient 3.3-liter engine in a new GLS trim. GLS received more features for 2008 and replaced the SE. Satellite radio, navigation and surround-sound audio became standard in 2008.
Redesigning for 2009 changed the front end and interior lighting, added 17-inch wheels and a new grille, and an iPod/USB audio jack. Enhanced engine performance came in 2011 with dual continually variable valve timing, along with a six speed transmission and improved fuel economy.
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Over time, changes have included increased horsepower for all engines, a six-speed automatic transmission, an all-new Azera (2012) with a more attractive, sloped exterior, more air bags, LED accented headlights, front and rear heated seating, and Blue Link telematics platform (also 2012).
Model year 2014 brought a six-inch LCD audio display with rearview camera and a lower starting price. Changes for 2015 included a hands-free trunk opener, optional LED fog lights, new navigation and multimedia system with 8-inch color LCD screen, redesigned center stack, standard blind spot detection, and standard lane departure and forward collision warning on Limited models.
Now, Azera updates for 2016 bring convenience driving technologies including Smart Cruise Control, Stop/Start technology, and Electronic Parking Brake with automatic vehicle hold for Limited models.
The Azera is based on the Sonata sedan, and is to the Hyundai lineup what the Avalon is to the Toyota lineup.
Two models are available: the Base for $34,100, and Limited for $39,300, both powered by a 293 horsepower 3.3-liter GDI V-6, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic, with power delivered to the front wheels.
An Active Eco System modifies engine operation and transmission control, smoothing throttle response, thereby improving fuel economy by up to 7 percent. The system can be deactivated when more power is needed.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the Base model are 20 mpg city/29 highway/23 combined, and for the Limited, 19/28/22.
Azera is offered in six exterior colors, with two interior choices. The Base model has 18-inch alloy wheels, while the Limited comes with 19-inch hyper-silver-alloy wheels.
Hyundai’s signature Fluidic Sculpture design language, introduced in 2010 to unify the brand’s models, inspired by nature’s curves and the dynamic of flight, is evident in the powerful, winged chrome grille (three sculpted chrome-trimmed bars) and the flowing crease running from front to rear. The long, low design also improves aerodynamics.
My Azera was a 2016 Diamond White Pearl Limited model, with Camel interior, accented by 3-D Carbon Fiber trim on the doors, dash, and center console/stack. The undulating beltline was accented by chrome, which extended from the front of the hood, across the top of the headlight housing and along the edge of the hood, continuing along the window openings all the way to the third window and back around to the top of the windows.
Wrap-around energy-efficient LED taillights, with a chrome strip trimming the top edge, picked up the side crease, which started at the rear chrome-trimmed door handle, continuing across the entire rear fascia. The effect with the large-diameter multi-spoke alloy wheels was striking, to say the least.
Five LED foglights were captured in a paddle-shaped chrome housing at the outside edge of the bumper, and the HID bi-xenon headlights (with automatic high beam assist) were accented by jewel-like LEDs.
Azera’s interior continued the elegance with more flowing surfaces on the instrument panel and minimalistic center stack, which wrapped around the driver and passenger areas to form a dual-cockpit front passenger space. A revision of the center stack for 2015 added some buttons and knobs, eliminating the need to search through touch-screen menus, a pet peeve of mine, although touch-screen functions were still possible.
My tester had a standard Blue Link Telematics System with Blue Link Connected Care (1-year trial, enrollment required), providing emergency communications including Automatic Collision Notification and SOS Emergency Assistance (24/7/365). Service Link allows scheduling of a Car Care appointment with a preferred dealer from the vehicle and a Monthly Vehicle Health Report delivers an email or message in the mobile app with an evaluation of key performance systems to help simplify maintenance.
Basic Blue Link features Remote Start including cabin temperature via mobile app downloaded to a smartphone; Remote Lock/Unlock (oops, I locked my keys in my car; unlock it using your smartphone), and Stolen Vehicle Recovery.
Destination Search powered by Google allows the user to search for an address, point of interest or category, while POI Web Search and Download allows the user to search and send directions to the vehicle via web or mobile app. Some features are also becoming available for Apple Watch and Android Wear.
Comfort and safety were addressed by solar-control glass, a 12-way driver seat with seat cushion extension and memory (including steering column and power-folding, heated side mirrors), dual automatic temperature control (with floor console-mounted rear vents), a power rear sunshade and manual rear side sunshades, an energy absorbing steering column, passenger detecting front air bag, driver’s knee air bag (nine air bags in all), LATCH system for child safety seats, front and rear crumple zones, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, electronic parking brake with auto hold, and power window pinch protection.
My Azera Limited had a panoramic sunroof, 60/40 folding rear seatback, universal gate/garage opener and compass on the rearview mirror, Sirius Travel Link, and a 14-speaker/550-watt Infinity Logic 7 surround sound audio system.
Due to the panoramic sunroof, the Limited has two inches less headroom in the front than the Base model, at 38.3 inches. Front legroom was 45.5 inches. Rear headroom was 37.3 and legroom was 36.8. The trunk would hold 16.3 cubic feet of cargo with the seatbacks in place.
With only one option – Carpeted Floor Mats, $125 – added to the base price of $39,300 and destination charges of $895, the final delivered price for my Azera was $40,320.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.