2014 Hyundai Azera Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
June 10, 2014

The 2014 Hyundai Azera is a big, comfortable sedan that offers serious design appeal and a luxury-car ambiance.

The Hyundai Azera was completely redesigned just a couple of model years ago; yet over that time, nearly all of the comfort-oriented, full-size, front-wheel-drive sedans that compete with it have been redesigned. And despite the introduction of showy new versions of the Chevrolet Impala and Toyota Avalon, most notably, the 2014 Hyundai Azera still stands up well for those who want a lot of comfort and features for the money.

Overall, the Azera remains one of the better efforts in this class—a half step down from luxury brand, but a solid step up from mass-market mid-size sedans—don't need to be so floaty and motion-sickness-inducing. Hyundai has positioned it toward 'design-minded consumers,' and Azera definitely hits an aesthetic high water mark for the brand. 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. 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.

Shoppers looking for style and comfort generally want good, confident straight-line performance, and the Azera has that and more. 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 a 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. In previous drives we've noted that the electric power steering is confidence inspiring (although Hyundai notes that it's been retuned for this year), and special Sachs amplitude-selective campers not only help filter out minor bumps.

The Azera has the seating space, smooth ride, and luxury-car feel, overall, whether your passengers are fussy family you need to soothe or business contacts you'd like to impress. 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 carved-out headliner recesses. Getting in and our of the back seat isn't as easy as some might hope, though.

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So far, based on Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, the 2014 Hyundai Azera offers great safety and security. It earned top 'good' scores in frontal, side, and rear impact testing, plus roof strength, and in all frontal and side testing; and in the roof-strength test it withstood 4.76 times its weight. A rearview camera system is included, as are blind-spot mirrors this year, and dual rear side-impact bags are among the nine standard airbags.

The Azera is now offered in two models: Azera and Azera Limited. The base 2014 Azera includes push-button start, proximity-key entry, Bluetooth connectivity, power front seats, full leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated side mirrors, heated front and rear seats, and a six-inch audio display system with six Mobis speakers. 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, along with a navigation system, eight-inch touch-screen display, rear reading lights, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a power sunroof, rear parking assistance, and power-folding side mirrors. A Premium Package adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, rear parking assistance, a power rear sunshade, and manual rear side-window sunshades.

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2014 Hyundai Azera

Styling

The Azera has a dynamic, nicely detailed look that fits in with traditional expectations and contemporary tastes.

The Hyundai Azera, in its previous iteration up to 2012, was a bland, conservative sedan that sold because of its value for money and comfort. But that all changed with the introduction of this current model, which is curvy and contemporary, and decidedly upscale. According to Hyundai it's positioned toward "design minded consumers," and we won't argue with that; it remains one of the best-looking sedans in its class.

Like many of Hyundai's current 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.

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.

The Azera's interior feels more like that of a luxury car in that it has a very distinctive, cockpit-like 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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2014 Hyundai Azera

Performance

The 2014 Azera is a confident enough performer to satisfy most -- although it's clear the comfort is the priority. .

The 2014 Hyundai Azera isn't all that mush larger than the mid-size Sonata sedan, but it does have one potentially important powertrain difference: There's a V-6 under the hood; and with it and the six-speed automatic transmission, the front-wheel-drive Azera has a refined, quick attitude. As for ride and handling, it's responsive enough, although it's clear that comfort is the priority.

On regular gasoline, the 3.3-liter V-6 makes 293 horsepower and 255 pound feet, and has a roller timing chain for durability and lower maintenance cost. It's an all-alloy engine, with direct injection, and incorporates dual continuously variable valve timing, four valves per cylinder, and double overhead cams, plus a three-stage variable intake system.

The V-6 has a dual personality of sorts, revving 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. Yet it already makes 200 pound-feet at 1,500 rpm, whixch it's also quite torquey at low revs--at least compared to Hyundai's former V-6 engines.

The best way to summarize how the Azera drives is that it's easygoing first and foremost, yet responsive enough for most drivers' expectations. The transmission includes a Shiftronic manual mode, although it's responsive in 'Drive' and has a wide range of ratios for relaxed highway cruising or quick takeoffs. And the electric power steering system in the Azera feels relaxed and better-tuned (with a good sense of center and predictable weighting) than what's used in other Hyundai front-wheel drive products. Although Hyundai claims to have made improvements in feel and precision for 2014...so we'll have to update you at a later date on exactly what that means.

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. 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.

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2014 Hyundai Azera

Comfort & Quality

A smooth ride, spacious seating, and a luxury-car ambiance add up to more than just a comfort sedan.

The Azera isn't just a large sedan; it's a luxury car in all but pedigree and cachet. And that holds true whether you judge it by interior appointments, seating, or ride.

With a wheelbase just a couple of inches longer than the Sonata, the Azera fits in between the Sonata and Genesis. Its overall length is just 3.5 longer than Sonata, and with some added width, the Azera offers nearly as much space as big luxury-brand flagships.

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. 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 down (and aids efficiency).

Adults will find plenty of sprawl-out legroom in front or in back. 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. As for the back seats, headroom is the limiting factor, although 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 as well). Ingress and egress is disappointing, and it's the only real price of the fashionable exterior. Taller folks will have to lean forward and duck their heads under the curved-down roofline when getting in.

I's a very thoughtful interior otherwise. Under 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. And there's a useful pinch point that lines up about where you might splay your knees.

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2014 Hyundai Azera

Safety

Impressive crash-test ratings and a standout rear-camera system are all part of an impressive safety set in the Azera.

With building blocks borrowed from the Sonata mid-size sedan, which also has a good safety record, the 2014 Hyundai Azera has a good set of credentials for keeping your family safe and sound.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has awarded the Azera top 'good' scores in frontal, side, and rear impact testing, plus roof strength, and in all subcategories of frontal and side testing. And in the roof-strength test it did particularly well--withstanding 4.76 times its weight. The federal government, however, hasn't yet rated the Azera.

In all, the Azera includes nine standard airbags, including a driver's knee airbag and separate rear side-impact bags. Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, and an impact-reducing front-seat design are all part of the standard kit.

As one nitpick in this area: We don't think outward visibility is as good as in some rival models--although the rearview camera system helps make up for it. Hyundai has added a standard blind-spot mirror for 2014 as well.

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2014 Hyundai Azera

Features

Hyundai splits the Azera into two trims for 2014, but the price of entry gets even lower.

For those who want a lot of luxury and convenience items for the money, the Hyundai Azera has always been a good pick. And for 2014, Hyundai has rejiggered the formula a bit, adding a base model while also adding a few features to the upscale Limited model. 

The Azera is now offered in two models: Azera and Azera Limited. The base Azera includes push-button start, proximity-key entry, Bluetooth connectivity, power front seats, full leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated side mirrors, heated front and rear seats, and a six-inch audio display system with six Mobis speakers. 

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, along with a navigation system, eight-inch touch-screen display, rear reading lights, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a power sunroof, rear parking assistance, and power-folding side mirrors.

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 Premium Package adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, rear parking assistance, a power rear sunshade, and manual rear side-window sunshades.

One side note: While the Azera offers a lot of luxury features, it's missing the heavy-hitting 'wow' features like head-up displays, active parking, blind-spot systems, or active cruise control.

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2014 Hyundai Azera

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage for the Azera isn't at the head of the pack, but it's respectable.

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.

That's right on par with other V-6 models its size, or perhaps a bit better.

As with 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.

However there's still no hybrid version, which both the Lexus ES and Toyota Avalon both offer, for ratings of up to 40 mpg. And even the Buick LaCrosse comes with an eAssist mild-hybrid system that achieves a highway rating of 37 mpg.

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Styling 8
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 9
Features 8
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