2008 Hyundai Azera Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 29, 2008

The 2008 Hyundai Azera gives the Korean automaker a legitimate full-size sedan, with plenty of power, features, and room, but not much excitement.

The car enthusiasts on staff at TheCarConnection.com searched the Web for the latest road tests on the 2008 Hyundai Azera. This comprehensive review brings you the conclusive opinions from those stories and the opinions of TheCarConnection.com’s editors, along with all the comparisons and details you need to make a perfect new-car choice.

The 2008 Hyundai Azera is a front-wheel drive sedan with a large interior, somewhat lazy handling, and oodles of features.

The Azera GLS gets its power from a 3.3-liter V-6 that produces 234 horsepower, while the Azera Limited has a 3.8-liter V-6 that makes 263 hp. A five-speed automatic incorporates Shiftronic for manual gear changes. The 3.3-liter engine hits 18/26 mpg, while the 3.8-liter achieves 17/26 mpg.

All 2008 Azera sedans get eight airbags and active head restraints. Even so, the Azera has four-star front impact crash protection and five-star ratings for driver-side impact protection, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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The Azera has an impressive 44 inches of front-seat legroom and more than 38 inches of legroom for rear-seat passengers--as much as (or more than) some traditional-brand luxury cars that can cost twice as much. The big size plays a role in its handling, which is characterized by light steering, lots of wheel motion, and plenty of body roll. It's how big cars used to handle, and while it's not sloppy, it's almost devoid of any sporting feel.

The styling is anonymous but competent. It gets better inside, where the 2008 Hyundai Azera sports features like a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, an electrochromatic mirror with compass, HomeLink garage door opener, and power driver and passenger seats. The Premium package on the GLS includes leather heated seats and a sunroof, while top-of-the-line Limited models get 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, heated front seats, wood trim, a power rear sunshade, a sunroof, and an Infinity audio system. A test car provided to TheCarConnection.com showed some obvious gaps between interior trim pieces, but the materials themselves were of good quality.

Available options include a power-adjustable tilt-and-telescopic steering column, integrated memory system, power-adjustable foot pedals, rain-sensing wipers, and an LG navigation system. Bluetooth connectivity is absent, though.

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2008 Hyundai Azera

Styling

The 2008 Hyundai Azera isn’t breathtaking, but it's clean and neat, with an interior bordering on stylish.

The 2008 Hyundai Azera sports an anonymous appearance that nearly clones its chief rival, the Toyota Avalon. Still, it’s a great leap forward for the brand, and it’s fairly good-looking, too.

The 2008 Hyundai Azera leans “ever so slightly on the sporty side of this conservative sector,” Automedia says, with styling that is particularly striking from the back.” Edmunds concurs: “with its tasteful chrome grille and crisp body lines, this sedan looks more like an Acura than a Hyundai.” Cars.com also refers to the 2008 Hyundai Azera’s “graceful four-door lines.” Car and Driver, however, is not impressed with what it calls “a nondescript, almost generic mid-size sedan look."

TheCarConnection.com found the interior of the 2008 Hyundai Azera to be better received, with Edmunds.com commenting, "Hyundai infuses the Azera's cabin with robust doses of luxury. With good-looking faux wood and metallic piping, materials quality is simply excellent, and those who opt for the Limited will find themselves swaddled in soft, double-stitched leather." Unfortunately, the light-colored beige leather of the driver seat has been known to become worn and discolored prematurely, so Edmunds also said, "we'd suggest sticking with the black interior option, which looks classier anyway." Car and Driver finds fault inside too, with the “econocar-like gauges.”

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2008 Hyundai Azera

Performance

The 2008 Hyundai Azera is a soft-handling sedan, but it’s surprisingly powerful with the larger V-6 engine.

The 2008 Hyundai Azera is available in two different varieties: the GLS and the Limited--both with V-6 power.

As Cars.com indicates, "The Azera GLS has a 3.3-liter V-6 that produces 234 hp and 226 pounds-feet of torque. The Azera Limited has a 3.8-liter V-6 that makes 263 hp and 257 pounds-feet of torque. With either engine, the standard five-speed automatic transmission incorporates Shiftronic for manually selectable gear changes."

TheCarConnection.com finds the consensus appears to be that "the standard 3.3-liter V6 may not be as powerful as the available 3.8-liter, but it does offer acceptable levels of performance and smoothness," as stated by Kelley Blue Book. However, the consensus also seems to be that, for buyers who can afford it, the 3.8-liter is well worth the $4,000 or so it will cost to buy a Limited (MSRP around $29,000) rather than a GLS (MSRP around $25,000).

Automedia finds much to like about the union of the larger V-6 engine and the automatic: “They make a nice couple. The V-6 flagship sails easily down the highway, with plenty of power on tap for passing and on-ramp merges. The transmission gets from gear to gear smoothly, with a manumatic mode for do-it-yourselfers.” Edmunds adds, “We've timed an Azera Limited at 7.1 seconds for the 0-60-mph run." However, Edmunds also notes, “Although this Hyundai never feels as athletic as cars like the Nissan Maxima and Chrysler 300, acceleration is brisk, and there's always ample power on tap from the V6.”

The EPA rates the 2008 Hyundai Azera with the smaller V-6 at 18/26 mpg, while the 3.8-liter gets 17/26 mpg.

Handling in the 2008 Hyundai Azera is cushy and isolated, according to the majority of reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com. Cars.com describes the suspension’s “double wishbones at the front and a multilink configuration at the rear. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard on both the Limited and GLS, the latter an upgrade from the 16-inchers last year.”

“The Azera's handling is on the soft side,” Edmunds reports. “However, the car feels predictable and secure around turns and the steering has a slick, accurate feel.” Automobile observes, “the Azera also mimics the [Toyota] Avalon's soft chassis tuning and overassisted steering.” Oddly, Kelley Blue Book finds the suspension to be "a little bouncy and a little harsh."

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2008 Hyundai Azera

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Hyundai Azera matches the room of the Toyota Avalon and comes very close to matching its comfort and quality.

The 2008 Hyundai Azera shows the Korean manufacturer coming of age with its flagship sedan. Quality continues to improve, but a few quibbles remain.

ConsumerGuide observes that headroom in the 2008 Azera "is ample despite a relatively high seating position, which combines with a lowish dashtop and large windows for fine all-around visibility." They go on to note that drivers can easily adjust their seating position "with a standard power seat, tilt and telescopic steering column, and Limited's optional power-adjustable pedals. The seats are nicely contoured for good overall support." Edmunds, though, says “one of our few complaints about the Hyundai's interior concerns the overly high seating position up front, which can be awkward for taller drivers with long torsos.”

Edmunds also approves of the overall feeling of quality, stating, "This Hyundai isn't just a hastily thrown-together collection of features--its high-quality interior materials, luxurious trappings and solid overall construction come together in a cohesive package that feels like the work of a true premium brand."

According to ConsumerGuide, the 2008 Hyundai Azera's "cabin materials are not quite to Lexus levels, but there are enough padded surfaces and carefully executed details present to belie Azera's price"; however, they mark the Azera down for its "coarse-surface tire thrum" and "wind rush [which] rises with speed."

ConsumerGuide also points out that the Limited's V-6 "emits [a] raspy growl at full throttle." Also, one test car's suspension reportedly made an occasional clunking noise. Edmunds disagrees: “Road noise is minimal even at high speeds, allowing for quiet conversations in the cabin,” they write.

Edmunds also refers to the 2008 Hyundai Azera’s "humongous Ikea-friendly trunk."

TheCarConnection.com drove the Hyundai Azera when it was brand-new, and little has changed in the past 18 months with the brand’s flagship (until the 2010 Hyundai Genesis arrives) sedan. The Azera has an impressive 44 inches of front-seat legroom and more than 38 inches of legroom for rear-seat passengers--as much (or more) room than some traditional-brand luxury cars that can cost twice as much. The big size plays a role in its handling, which is characterized by light steering, lots of wheel motion, and plenty of body roll. It's how big cars used to handle, and while it's not sloppy, it's almost devoid of any sporting feel.

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2008 Hyundai Azera

Safety

The 2008 Hyundai Azera comes equipped with the complement of safety equipment one would expect from a modern, semi-luxury sedan.

The safety standards of modern cars have improved greatly since the first Hyundai appeared on U.S. shores more than 20 years ago, and that is duly reflected in the 2008 Hyundai Azera.

TheCarConnection.com finds the 2008 Hyundai Azera received five stars from the NHTSA for front-seat protection in side impacts and four stars for rear-seat protection, as well as four stars for frontal impact protection.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the 2008 Hyundai Azera "earned a top score of 'Good' for its protection of passengers in frontal offset crashes, and a score of 'Acceptable' (the second-highest rating) in side-impact testing," according to Edmunds.

Hyundai equips every Azera with dual front airbags, front and rear side airbags, curtain side airbags, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes, brake assist, antiskid system, front-seat active head restraints, and a tire pressure monitoring system, reports ConsumerGuide.

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2008 Hyundai Azera

Features

The 2008 Hyundai Azera may not be a Lexus, but with its accoutrements, it's doing a better impression of one all the time.

Hyundai had some pretty specific targets in mind when it set about the task of designing and equipping the 2008 Hyundai Azera. Competing with the Ford Taurus, Buick LaCrosse, and especially the Toyota Avalon, Hyundai rises to the occasion where standard features and options are concerned, though some cutting-edge features are unavailable.

The base GLS trim level's standard equipment includes air conditioning with dual-zone automatic climate controls, tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls, cruise control, cloth upholstery, eight-way power driver seat with lumbar adjustment, four-way power passenger seat, split folding rear seat, heated power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, trip computer, compass, universal garage door opener, illuminated visor mirrors, automatic headlights, theft-deterrent system, fog lights, and alloy wheels shod with 235/55VR17 tires, reports ConsumerGuide. Also offered for the GLS is the optional Premium Package, which replaces the cloth upholstery with leather and adds heated front seats and a sunroof. The sunroof is also available separately.

Moving up to the Limited trim level will get a buyer all the features of the GLS, "while adding power-folding outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, power rear sunshade, electroluminescent gauges and a 10-speaker Infinity sound system with in-dash six-CD changer," says Edmunds. TheCarConnection.com notes that the Limited also includes the more powerful 3.8-liter V-6.

The options package offered on the Limited is called the Ultimate Package, which "adds a power tilt-telescoping steering column, power-adjustable pedals, driver memory functions, a wood grain steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers and a 12-speaker Infinity Logic7 surround-sound stereo including subwoofer," according to Edmunds. In discussing the car that they test drove, Edmunds says, "At under $30,000, our Azera Limited came packed with features normally found on luxury-branded vehicles costing thousands of dollars more. It comes as no surprise, then, that the loaded Azera is the volume seller, as consumers can't ignore such obvious value."

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Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 8
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Features 8
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