2010 Hyundai Azera Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
October 21, 2009

The 2010 Hyundai Azera appeals to sedan shoppers on a budget who value comfort and interior space above all else.

The editors at TheCarConnection.com have driven the Hyundai Azera, along with all of its full-size sedan rivals, in a variety of situations so as to bring readers a full assessment of how it measures up. And to bring you the most complete picture of how the 2010 Hyundai Azera fits into the market and who it appeals to, TheCarConnection.com has included excerpts from a wide range of reviews.

The front-wheel-drive Hyundai Azera is a car with a very focused mission, but it takes its reason for being to an extreme. It’s pretty much catered perfectly to those who value ride over handling, and interior space over flashy design; with GM trying to change Buick’s image in the United States to make it more youthful, the Azera seems to be occupying that brand’s geriatric portion of the market—appealing to penny-pinching empty-nesters who want a big, comfortable highway cruiser.

Conservative but tasteful is a good way to sum up the styling of the Azera. Wheel designs have been updated, and last year marked the introduction of a new chrome grille design; on the inside, the wood grain and metal accents have been enhanced a bit.

There are two Azera models, both powered by V-6 engines; a 3.3-liter V-6, making 234 horsepower, moves the base GLS, while the Limited gets a 263-hp, 3.8-liter V-6. Both engines have all-aluminum construction, continuously variable valve timing, and a variable intake system. Compared to the V-6 engines that Kia used just a few years ago, they’re thoroughly modern and refined. Fuel economy is decent for a large sedan, at 18 mpg city, 26 highway for the GLS and 16/26 mpg for the Limited.

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The 2010 Hyundai Azera driving experience is, in a word, numbing. Steering is light, brakes are somewhat overboosted, and there’s no real feel of the road surface yet lots of soft body motion. Because of how softly sprung the Azera is, considering its size and weight you might detect its limitations when angling around a tight low-speed corner. The five-speed automatic transmission comes with Shiftronic manual control, but you probably won’t find yourself inspired to race through canyons and over ridges.

Very ample overall dimensions directly translate to very ample interior space in the 2010 Azera. Fortunately, the large size means that 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. Azera models that TheCarConnection.com has seen in previous years suffered from unimpressive assembly and some trim issues, but the materials are right up there with those of other large non-luxury sedans.

The list of safety features is impressive; eight airbags, plus active head restraints, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist are all included. Yet crash-test protection hasn’t been at the top of the class. The Azera earns four-star front impact crash protection and five-star ratings for driver-side impact protection, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but ratings from the IIHS include a "good" designation only in frontal offset impact and "acceptable" in side and rear tests.

Even base GLS models of the Azera come pretty well equipped, with a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, iPod/USB inputs, 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. For 2010, Hyundai presents the Limited model as an even bigger step up in luxury from the base GLS, with the standard feature set now including a power tilt/telescope wheel, integrated memory system, and wood grain steering wheel and door pulls.

On the Limited, the options are confined to a new 605-watt Infinity Logic 7 sound system, paired in one of two option packages with power-adjustable pedals, rain-sensing wipers, memory seats, and for the costlier package, an LG navigation system. A Bluetooth hands-free interface remains available only as a port-installed option.

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2010 Hyundai Azera

Styling

The 2010 Hyundai Azera is stylistically conservative through and through, but its interior is more visually appealing than its exterior.

Few would disagree that the 2010 Hyundai Azera is conservatively styled and a bit anonymous, but it is what it is and most reviewers recognize that the Azera isn't going for style mavens with finicky tastes. If anything, several reviewers mention its resemblance to the Toyota Avalon.

Cars.com, however, seems to take a liking to the Azera's "graceful four-door lines," while Edmunds says that the Azera leans "ever so slightly on the sporty side of this conservative sector." The Edmunds reviewer adds that "with its...crisp body lines, this sedan looks more like an Acura than a Hyundai." Kelley Blue Book appreciates the 2009 Azera's "classy look." Car and Driver hints at the Azera's downside, its "nondescript, almost generic mid-size sedan look."

Overall, reviewers appreciate the interior of the 2010 Hyundai Azera. For 2009, Hyundai spruced up the interior by upgrading trims with some new wood and metal grain materials. According to Edmunds, "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." Car and Driver finds fault inside with the "econocar-like gauges." One other gripe: The light-colored beige leather of the driver seat is known to become worn and discolor prematurely, so Edmunds advises "sticking with the black interior option, which looks classier anyway."

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2010 Hyundai Azera

Performance

The 2010 Hyundai Azera accelerates smoothly for freeway ramps and suburban stoplights, but it's not built for twists.

The 2010 Hyundai Azera performs much as large American sedans used to: It accelerates nicely, but doesn't handle especially well, due to a very soft, pillowy suspension tuning.

The two models of the 2010 Azera—the GLS and Limited—come with different V-6 engines. As Cars.com observes, "the Azera GLS has a 3.3-liter V-6 that produces 234 hp and 226 pound-feet of torque." Meanwhile, the Azera Limited has a 3.8-liter V-6 that makes 263 hp and 257 pound-feet of torque. Cars.com reports that either engine comes with a five-speed automatic transmission that "incorporates Shiftronic for manually selectable gear changes."

Based on input from several reviewers, the 3.8-liter is well worth the $4,000 or so it will cost to buy a Limited rather than a GLS. Kelley Blue Book, however, reports that "the standard 3.3-liter V-6 may not be as powerful as the available 3.8-liter, but it does offer acceptable levels of performance and smoothness." Automedia finds much to like about the union of the larger V-6 engine and the automatic in the 2009 Azera: "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 timed an Azera Limited to 60 mph in just 7.1 seconds—very quick for such a sedan—but 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 V-6."

Fuel economy just isn't as good as you might expect in this class of vehicle, however. With the smaller of the two engines, the Azera gets 18 mpg city, 26 highway, while the 3.8-liter Limited hits 17/26 mpg.

There's not much to report about the way the 2010 Hyundai Azera handles. "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." With a very soft suspension that's calibrated for isolation, not responsiveness, it's easy to anticipate that it's no sports sedan; if you want handling performance, you should be looking elsewhere.

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2010 Hyundai Azera

Comfort & Quality

With a very spacious, well-appointed interior, the 2010 Hyundai Azera has all the trappings of a luxury car, but it's missing some of the finer details.

If comfort is your shopping priority, the 2010 Hyundai Azera is one of the better picks. But the Azera is not without its flaws—namely, materials that aren't quite luxury-caliber and a lack of some of the finer details.

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. Most reviewers like the space and seating comfort offered in the 2010 Hyundai Azera. But not all remarks are positive. ConsumerGuide points out that drivers can easily adjust the 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." They also note that there's plenty of headroom despite a rather tall seating position. Edmunds, however, 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."

Most reviewers agree that Hyundai does a good job with interior materials in the Azera. According to ConsumerGuide, the 2010 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." 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."

However, several sources note particular details that interrupt the feeling of refinement and luxury that otherwise prevails. One of those is road and wind noise; ConsumerGuide points out that the Limited's V-6 "emits [a] raspy growl at full throttle"—a bit out of place for a sedate luxury car—and points out the "coarse-surface tire thrum" and how "wind rush rises with speed."
Also, one test car's suspension reportedly made an occasional clunking noise. Edmunds, however, contends, "Road noise is minimal even at high speeds, allowing for quiet conversations in the cabin."

Edmunds confirms TheCarConnection.com's own observations that the 2010 Hyundai Azera's spaciousness extends to cargo as well, citing Azera's "humongous Ikea-friendly trunk."

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2010 Hyundai Azera

Safety

The 2010 Hyundai Azera offers all the features expected in a large luxury car, though its crash-test ratings aren't excellent.

With regard to safety, the 2010 Hyundai Azera meets expectations for features, but its crash-test ratings signal that it's certainly not at the head of the class.

Front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags, electronic stability control, front-seat active head restraints, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes, and brake assist are included with both Azera models. The rear thorax-type bags are an unusual feature typically offered in premium vehicles.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Hyundai Azera was rated "good" for frontal-offset protection, though it earned lower scores of "acceptable" for side and rear tests. In federal (NHTSA) tests, the Azera received five stars for front-seat protection in side impacts and four stars for rear-seat protection, as well as four stars for frontal impact protection.

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2010 Hyundai Azera

Features

The standard-feature list in the 2010 Hyundai Azera is jaw-dropping, but its options list is pretty ordinary. Prices are very attractive, though.

The 2010 Hyundai Azera is designed and equipped to match large, "near luxury" sedans like the Buick LaCrosse, Ford Taurus, and Toyota Avalon; for the money, it exceeds the equipment in those models. Overall, TheCarConnection.com finds that the Azera offers plenty of useful features at a bargain price.

Kelley Blue Book considers the 2009 Azera "a car to rival some of the best near-luxury sedans in America," and 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."

The base GLS trim level's standard equipment includes a very long list of features, including keyless entry, satellite radio, a trip computer, a garage door opener, dual-zone climate control, heated power mirrors, fog lamps, and V-rated 17-inch tires on alloy wheels. Moving up to the Limited trim level brings a more powerful 3.8-liter V-6, as well as features like "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.

On the Limited, the options are confined to a new 605-watt Infinity Logic 7 sound system, paired in one of two option packages with power-adjustable pedals, rain-sensing wipers, memory seats, and for the costlier package, an LG navigation system. A Bluetooth hands-free interface remains available only as a port-installed option.

Cars.com includes plenty of information on the LG navigation system, saying that it uses physical buttons for functions like zoom-in/out and adding that it "doesn't feel as slick: Its buttons flex and wriggle in a way the climate controls don't, and usability is so-so." The reviewer points to "clever functions like a route preview screen with turn-by-turn directions," but asserts that the display washes out easily in bright light.

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Styling 7
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