2013 Hyundai Azera Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
October 2, 2012

The 2013 Hyundai Azera is still a good value, but now it offers real design appeal, confident performance, and a true luxury-car ambiance.

Comfort and luxury don't have to go hand-in-hand with the Novocaine school of design. This past year Hyundai rolled out an all-new 2012 Azera and showed that it is possible to have a premium sedan that's stylish but also practical, well-equipped, and spacious.

Hyundai has positioned the Azera toward 'design-minded consumers,' and based on what we see outside and in, the Azera definitely hits an aesthetic high water mark. Like many of Hyundai's recent models, designers looked to build on the 'fluidic sculpture' theme, but there's been a lot of attention paid to the details, with nicely sculpted LED taillamps, side mirrors with build-in turn-signal indicators, and HID xenon headlamps. Inside, the layout is definitely more cockpit-like than in most other large sedans, but the dash pushes outward at the corners to help free up a little more space than you might expect. And there's a very distinctive two-tier layout, with some combinations pairing a lighter-tone lower tier with a darker upper tier that matches the upholstery. Brightwork is kept to a minimum, and cool-blue accent lighting keeps with the ambiance.

For what shoppers looking for style and comfort want, the Azera should have offer plenty of performance. The 3.3-liter 'Lambda' V-6 makes 293 horsepower, as well as 255 pound feet—on regular gasoline—and is smooth and responsive, thanks in part to the six-speed automatic transmission, which includes a Shiftronic manual mode. The transmission has a wide range of gear ratios to allow quick takeoffs, strong passing ability, and relaxed cruising. The well-tuned electric power steering is confidence inspiring, and special Sachs amplitude-selective campers not only help filter out minor bumps without adding floatiness.

Review continues below

Whether you're carrying family or business colleagues, the Azera has the seating space, smooth ride, and luxury-car feel, overall, to keep everyone comfortable. In terms of seating, ride, and interior appointments, it's a luxury car. Front seats are adjustable to a wide range of sizes, and Tech Package models, in addition to heated seats, include heated-and-cooled ventilated functions. In back, there's lots of sprawl-out legroom, as well as just enough headroom for adults—just enough, thanks to two carved-out headliner recesses. Although the middle position isn't quite as spacious, and the roofline makes getting in and out a little too challenging than it should be.

The Azera hasn't been rated by the federal government yet, but from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety it earned top 'good' scores in frontal, side, and rear impact testing, plus roof strength, and in all subcategories of frontal and side testing. In the roof-strength test it withstood 4.76 times its weight. And it comes with nine standard airbags, including separate rear side-impact bags.

There are just two builds: Azera, or Azera with Technology Package. The base Azera includes the navigation system and backup camera system, push-button start, proximity-key entry, Bluetooth connectivity, power front seats, full leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated side mirrors, and heated front and rear seats. And the standard 450-watt Dimension sound system includes XM satellite radio, HD Radio, iPod/USB connectivity, and an auxiliary input jack. Even at the base level, the Azera includes a navigation system, along with a number of other features that are optional on most luxury-brand models.

The Technology Package adds HID headlamps, larger 19-inch wheels, a big panoramic sunroof, a power rear sunshade, manual rear side sunshades, ventilated front seats, 550-watt Infinity premium Logic 7 sound with subwoofer, power steering-wheel adjustment, interior ambient lighting, and a keyfob-integrated memory system for settings.

The only things missing are the ones that are bound to impress any friends who might already drive high-end luxury-brand cars; advanced-tech features like active parking, blind-spot systems, a head-up display, or active cruise control aren't to be found here.

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2013 Hyundai Azera

Styling

The 2013 Hyundai Azera is a little more stylish--with a dynamic, detailed look--than most other large sedans.

Up until last year the Hyundai Azera made very little of a lasting impression; its design was somewhat upscale, but also anonymous. Then last year the automaker repositioned it toward 'design-minded consumers.' And within the constraints of practicality, the new Azera is now one of the best-looking cars in this class.

Like many of Hyundai's recent models—and building on the 'fluidic sculpture' theme that made its debut in the Sonata—the Azera has two distinctive side creases in the sheetmetal, which don't quite meet but together form a strong expression. In the Azera, one of them starts just behind the headlamps, flowing along the top of the fender and upward to the back of the front door; meanwhile, another starts just ahead of the rear door handle, flowing upward, then across and forming the actual decklid crease around the back.

Nicely sculpted LED taillamps, side mirrors with build-in turn-signal indicators, and HID xenon headlamps all serve to round out the impression that all the details have been covered. Transitions that are clear in the grille continue on the hood as subtle extensions, while lower airdams get smooth contours rather than the aggressive look that's so common. In back, the Azera is at it's least distinctive; it's a bit slab-like, but the wrap-around taillamps help save the look.

Hyundai targeted a look that would be authoritative, elegant, and powerful, it says, so the design aims to be dynamic and assertive yet reeled in a bit, with an element of discipline and restraint.

Inside, the layout is definitely more cockpit-like than in most other large sedans, but the dash pushes outward at the corners to help free up a little more space than you might expect. It's a natural extension of the look in the compact Elantra and mid-size Sonata, with its Y-shaped center stack offering a screen top and center, flanked by vents and with audio and climate controls just below. And there's a pinch point that lines up about where you might splay your knees, to offer just a little more space.

Beyond that, the Azera feels more like a luxury car in that it has a very distinctive two-tier layout, with some combinations pairing a lighter-tone lower tier with a darker upper tier that matches the upholstery. With the soft-touch and matte surfaces within reach of the driver and passenger. It's all kept tasteful, with interior brightwork kept to a minimum, and done in a cloudy matte-metallic instead. Blue ambient lighting, in models with the Tech Package, is tucked under that top tier of dash and door trim, as well as in footwells.

Otherwise, the colors and themes inside quite conservative--think more along the lines of true luxury cars. Of the eight exterior hues available, seven of them are hues of white, black, or gray; but we were impressed with the Venetian Red Pearl. And of the three interior schemes Chestnut Brown is in our opinion the best-looking.

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2013 Hyundai Azera

Performance

Comfort is the priority, but the 2013 Azera has enough confident performance to satisfy all but those who want a a true sport sedan.

The 2013 Hyundai Azera offers one thing the somewhat smaller Sonata does not: a V-6. With its 3.3-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission, the front-wheel-drive Azera is quick, responsive, and smooth, and while it handles confidently, its priority is comfort.

The all-alloy 'Lambda' engine has direct injection and incorporates dual continuously variable valve timing, four valves per cylinder, and double overhead cams, plus a three-stage variable intake system. On regular gasoline, it makes 293 horsepower and 255 pound feet, and has a roller timing chain for durability and lower maintenance cost.

With a dual personality of sorts, the V-6 revs high and eagerly, with a higher specific output than other engines in this class, making its peak power at 6,400 rpm, just short of redline; but it's also quite torquey at lower revs compared to Hyundai's former V-6 engines. This one already makes 200 pound-feet at 1,500 rpm.

A Shiftronic manual mode comes standard on the Azera, and the six-speed automatic transmission is responsive yet has a wide range of ratios for relaxed highway cruising or quick takeoffs. Plus, the electric power steering system in the Azera feels relaxed and better-tuned than what's used in other Hyundai front-wheel drive products. It's likely going to be what comfort-oriented buyers expect, with a good sense of center and weighting that builds predictably.

The Azera uses a MacPherson strut-type front system, and a multi-link setup in back, but Sachs amplitude-selective campers not only help filter out minor bumps without leading to less body control. Special attention has been paid to side loading, to help increase confidence on curvy roads, and body motion is better controlled than in other luxury cars with a soft ride.

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2013 Hyundai Azera

Comfort & Quality

The Azera's spacious seating, a smooth ride, and luxury-car ambiance altogether bring something upscale of mere comfort.

If you judge it by seating, ride, or interior appointments, the 2013 Hyundai Azera is a luxury car, not just a large sedan.

Fitting right in between the Sonata and Genesis in the Hyundai lineup, with its wheelbase a couple of inches longer then the Sonata, overall length 3.5 longer than Sonata, and a little added width, the Azera offers nearly as much space as big luxury-brand flagships

Front seats are adjustable to a wide range of sizes, and we like how Hyundai has assembled the power-seat controls, Mercedes-Benz style, along the upper door trim. In addition to heated seats, Tech Package models include heated-and-cooled ventilated functions.

Adults will find plenty of sprawl-out legroom in back, although headroom is the limiting factor—there's just enough for taller adults, thanks to two carved-out headliner recesses. If anyone ends up in the middle, they might not be as happy, as the headliner's lower there and the bench position is notably harder (the back of the center console is there, too).

Ingress and egress is a bit of a disappointment in back. Taller folks will have to lean forward and duck their heads under the curved-down roofline; it's the only real price of the fashionable exterior.

Otherwise it's a very thoughtful interior. Underneath the audio and climate controls, there's a large hinged bin (felted), with auxiliary and USB ports, and a hinged compartment next to the shift knob, containing a couple of cupholders. The space behind the center stack has also been used—a la Volvo—with a tray at the bottom of that, and the center console itself has the capacity to hide a camera or small purse. Cupholders and bottle recesses, along with map pockets, are included along all doors, too.

The Avalon also has the lowest coefficient of drag (tied with the Avalon, at 0.28) of any large sedan, which helps keep wind noise at bay (and helps efficiency). Ride quality is superb, with only the most jarring bumps heard heard and felt in the cabin. And inside, it's quiet—very quiet—with nearly all road noise filtered out; likewise, you hear engine noise only when accelerating hard.

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2013 Hyundai Azera

Safety

A standout rear-camera system is part of an excellent safety-feature set in the 2013 Azera.

The 2013 Hyundai Azera is a big secure sedan and borrows some of its building blocks from the acclaimed Sonata mid-size sedan.

The Azera hasn't been rated by the federal government yet, but from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety it earned top 'good' scores in frontal, side, and rear impact testing, plus roof strength, and in all subcategories of frontal and side testing. In the roof-strength test it withstood 4.76 times its weight.

Nine airbags—including a driver's knee airbag and separate rear side-impact bags—are standard on the Azera, plus electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, and an impact-reducing front-seat design.

Outward visibility isn't quite as good as upright sedan designs, but the standard rearview camera system mostly makes up for that.

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2013 Hyundai Azera

Features

There's a lot of value in the 2013 Hyundai Azera--especially if luxury features matter.

The 2013 Hyundai Azera went up significantly in price with last year's redesign; but for those who want a lot of luxury and convenience features for the money, it's still one of the better values on the market.

Prior to last year, the Azera has been offered in GLS and Limited models, with the Limited model offering 'the works' and the GLS having a more limited set of features and (what used to be) and a weaker engine. But last year, Hyundai essentially dropped the GLS and made the former Limited the only trim.

As such, the Azera is offered in just two builds: Azera, or Azera with Technology Package. The base Azera includes the navigation system and backup camera system, push-button start, proximity-key entry, Bluetooth connectivity, power front seats, full leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated side mirrors, and heated front and rear seats. And the standard 450-watt Dimension sound system includes XM satellite radio, HD Radio, iPod/USB connectivity, and an auxiliary input jack.

Even at the base level, the Azera includes a navigation system, along with a number of other features that are optional on most luxury-brand models. The nav system has a seven-inch screen and runs on a full WVGA resolution, including a 90-day trial of XM NavTraffic, as well as 8GB of built-in memory for map data. It also includes information screens for audio and climate control, though all important controls for those have redundant, traditional buttons and dials below.

All Azera models do get Hyundai's subscription-based Blue Link system, which offers a suite of services like vehicle location; remote vehicle access; emergency and roadside assistance; turn-by-turn navigation; and traffic and weather updates.

The Technology Package adds HID headlamps, larger 19-inch wheels, a big panoramic sunroof, a power rear sunshade, manual rear side sunshades, ventilated front seats, 550-watt Infinity premium Logic 7 sound with subwoofer, power steering-wheel adjustment, interior ambient lighting, and a keyfob-integrated memory system for settings.

While the Azera clearly aims to impress, it's not quite offering up true luxury-brand tech features; things like active parking, blind-spot systems, a head-up display, or active cruise control aren't to be found here.

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2013 Hyundai Azera

Fuel Economy

Relative to most other luxury sedans, the 2013 Hyundai Azera gets good gas mileage.

Thanks to a modern direct-injection 3.3-liter V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission, the Azera achieves pretty impressive EPA ratings--of 20 mpg city, 29 highway, for a Combined figure of 23 mpg. And there's no need to worry about premium fuel.

Like in other Hyundai models, an Active Eco button smooths out accelerator inputs, changes transmission shifts, and runs accessories more conservatively, saving seven percent in real-world fuel economy, according to Hyundai.

What Hyundai doesn't offer in the Azera that other models in this class do is a hybrid version. The Lexus ES and Toyota Avalon both offer a fuel-saving hybrid system, while the Buick LaCrosse comes with an eAssist mild-hybrid system that achieves a highway rating of 37 mpg.

NOTE: The 2013 Azera is one of a set of vehicles found to have overstated fuel-economy numbers. Hyundai initially submitted figures of 20/30 mpg to the EPA. The agency has since found the actual tested fuel economy to be 20/29 mpg. Owners can register with Hyundai to receive reimbursement for the gas consumed above and beyond expected levels; more details are found at HyundaiMPGInfo.com.

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Styling 9.0
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Comfort & Quality 9.0
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