2006 Hyundai Azera
This 2006 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2010.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The new Hyundai Azera replaces the South Korean automaker's XG350 as its flagship model and is billed as an "attainable" premium sedan.
The midsize Azera promises to rack up higher sales than the XG350, which was a decent car with one of the best warranties in the business.
But the XG350 looked bland and wasn't nearly as much fun to drive as the rival Nissan Altima. It also wasn't as solidly built as competitors such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
However, a boatload of standard equipment and a warranty that included 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain protection were more than enough to make the front-wheel-drive XG350 popular, although few keep a car 100,000 miles.
The front-wheel-drive Azera has sleeker styling than the XG350 and is slightly longer, wider and roomier. It's also considerably more powerful.
The Azera is designed to compete head-on with such cars as the popular Camry and Accord, although it lacks their rock-solid feel—not to mention their higher resale value. And it still isn't as much fun as an Altima.
Hyundai wants the Azera to attract buyers of its lower-line models—and those who own an XG350.
The Azera engine works with a responsive 5-speed automatic transmission and offers at least marginally better fuel economy than the XG350 V6.
The Azera provides an estimated 18 mpg in the city and 27 on highways, compared to 18 and 26 for the XG350. The Azera economy is OK for a fairly large, roomy, powerful gasoline-engine sedan that weighs 3,629 pounds.
Despite its sleek lines, the Azera is no sports sedan—not that it pretends to be such a car. But it steers and handles well during the routine driving it mainly will encounter. The ride is smooth, but a soft suspension allows the car to occasionally become bouncy.
Touchy Brake Pedal
The Azera comes as the base $24,335 SE and $26,835 Limited, which has such upscale features as sumptuous leather upholstery.
Among the many comfort, convenience and safety items for the SE are air conditioning with dual-climate controls, a tilt/telescopic/leather-wrapped wheel with radio and climate controls, cruise control, a power driver's seat and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 player (anybody remember the old AM-only radios?).
There also are a split-folding rear seat to increase cargo space, heated and decent-size power mirrors and power windows and door locks with remote keyless entry.
Besides leather upholstery, the Limited adds heated front seats, a power front passenger seat, a woodgrain/leather-wrapped wheel, a power rear sunshade and wider tires on 17-inch (vs. 16-inch) wheels.
Optional for both trim levels is a sunroof. And the Limited can be had with optional power-adjustable pedals and an integrated memory system for the driver's seat, outside mirrors, steering column and pedals. That memory system option allows two drivers in a family to quickly get their most comfortable driving positions.
The interior is quiet, except for noticeable tire noise on coarse surfaces that detracts from the car's "premium sedan" billing.
Outside doors have large handles and open wide for easy entry. Inside door handles are moderately sized, but all doors have an unusual, helpful feature: thick, attractive interior grab bars that let doors be easily pulled shut.
The large windshield and airy interior do away with the generally cheap, gray look found in many past South Korean sedans. All-around visibility is good, and Lexus-style backlit gauges can be quickly read under various lighting conditions.
Controls are conveniently placed. Although small, audio and climate controls can be used with a minimum of fuss. The Azera provides a front ashtray and cigarette lighter because some people still do smoke.
The dashboard and console have decent storage areas, and front doors have storage pockets with a snap-open feature usually found in more costly cars. A large, fold-down rear center armrest contains generously sized cupholders.
The hood glides up smoothly on a hydraulic strut, and fluid-filler areas are easily reached in the engine compartment.
The XG350 provided lots of value for the money. The sexier looking Azera offers even more value for about the same amount of money. Its popularity seems assured.