- Strong, smooth powertrain
- Refined ride
- Nicely detailed design
- Good feature list
- Tight center position in back seat
- Tough ingress/egress in back
- Lacks some leading-edge tech features
For those who don't want or need the Genesis' price tag, the 2016 Hyundai Azera satisfies the near-luxury need for style and features.
The Hyundai Azera is the South Korean automaker's full-size sedan, a rival for cars like the Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon, and Chevy Impala. Like those vehicles, it's been restyled and repositioned as a more dramatic-looking companion to less-expensive mainstream sedans. And like those vehicles, the Azera offers a raft of technology and luxury features that wouldn't be out of place in cars with very expensive badgework.
Overall, the Azera remains one of the better efforts in this class—a half step down from luxury brands, but a solid step up from mass-market mid-size sedans.
The Azera is still aimed at the mass market, but also at those car buyers looking for a dashing design. The Azera hits that high-water mark, only exceeded at Hyundai by the new and sleekly styled Genesis. The Azera is heavily sculpted and dynamic-looking, with a lot of attention paid to the details. It wears a lovely set of curves, and caps them with LED taillamps, side mirrors with built-in turn-signal indicators, and HID xenon headlamps. For the 2015 model year, Hyundai updated the grille shape and the front end to come closer to that of the new Genesis.
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. Cool-blue accent lighting keeps with the ambiance, 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.
For performance, the Azera relies on some of the same hardware as the Sonata family sedan, with one big exception. The Azera offers more than adequate straight-line performance from its 3.3-liter V-6, which makes 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque—on regular gasoline. It's smooth and responsive, thanks in part to a 6-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 Azera's ride and handling give priority to comfort, but that doesn't mean they lack control. Its electric power steering is confidence inspiring and special Sachs amplitude-selective dampers not only help filter out minor bumps but provide the comfortable ride that most large-car shoppers are after. Thankfully, automakers have realized that vehicles in this segment don't need to be so floaty and motion-sickness-inducing.
The Azera has the seating space, smooth ride, and luxury-car feel for fussy family members or business meetings alike. It's a luxury car, in terms of seating, ride, and interior appointments. Front seats are adjustable to a wide range of sizes, and you can get heated-and-cooled ventilated functions. In back, there's lots of sprawl-out legroom, as well as just enough headroom for adults—thanks to two recesses carved out of the headliner. Getting in and out of the back seat isn't as easy as some might hope, though.
Based on IIHS testing, the Hyundai Azera offers great safety and security. It earned top "Good" scores in frontal, side, and rear impact testing, and in the roof-strength test it withstood 4.76 times its weight. The IIHS has not yet subjected the Azera to its tougher front small overlap test, so it can't be considered for the current Top Safety Pick status. The federal government has not put an Azera through its test regimen. A rearview camera system is included, as are those improved blind-spot mirrors this year, and dual rear side-impact bags are among the nine standard airbags.
The Azera is offered in two models: Azera and Azera Limited. The base Azera includes keyless ignition, proximity-key entry, Bluetooth connectivity, power front seats, navigation, full leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated side mirrors, heated front and rear seats, and a 6.0-inch audio display system with six Mobis speakers. Hyundai also includes the latest version of its Blue Link system on all Azeras; the system works with a smartphone app and can allow for parental controls to be set for vehicle use.
Limited models upgrade to the 450-watt Dimension sound system, which includes XM satellite radio, HD Radio, iPod/USB connectivity, and an auxiliary input jack, a hands-free trunk opener, rear reading lights, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a power sunroof, rear parking assistance, and power-folding side mirrors. Adaptive cruise control and stop/start are new to the Limited model for the 2016 model year, as is an electronic parking brake.A Premium Package adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, rear parking assistance, a power rear sunshade, and manual rear side-window sunshades.
Fuel economy is decent for the class, with ratings of 20 mpg city, 29 highway, 23 combined. That puts it just behind the Impala and non-hybrid Avalon, but all of them are nowhere near the gas-electric Toyota, which hits a highway rating of 40 mpg.