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MAYNARD'S GARAGE- The 2012 Hyundai Azera Is A Potential Predator to Entry-Level Luxury Sedans PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Maynard Creative Syndicate   
Thursday, 28 June 2012 01:47

The elegant styling communicates a position of privilege. The interior is full-bodied with standard leather-trimmed upholstery that has that spicy, peppery smell of success. The lines are flowing and emphasize space and comfort. Entry and exit from all doors is gracious, and there is room to stretch out. Front headroom is tall, 40.3 inches, and rear legroom is more than three feet with a low center tunnel for improved center-seat footroom.

The horsepower is appropriate for the fuel economy — 23 mpg combined city/highway — and the engineering is the latest with user-friendly technology. And all this for $32,875 — from a manufacturer known for its long warranty and dependable, mainstream vehicles.

Loaded, the car goes for $36,875, including the freight charge, which adds the only factory option, the $4,000 Technology package. For resale value alone, it would be shortsighted not to have the tech package — and for its pure pleasure it would never be regretted. It includes:

• Panoramic sunroof

• HID xenon headlights

• Power rear sunshade

• Side window sunshades

• Infinity speakers with amplifier

• Power tilt and telescopic steering column

• Driver's seat cushion extension

• Ventilated front seats

• Rear parking sensors

The Azera is in the large-car segment with such nameplates as the Nissan Maxima, Buick LaCrosse, Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus and the upcoming Chevy Impala. The latest versions of these cars also have ramped up the level of near-luxury, but Hyundai seems to be the agitator — or the inspiration.

The new Azera has more standard equipment than before to help support the higher starting prices. Among the features are a navigation system with backup camera, power front seats, heated front and rear seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlight accents, proximity key to lock/unlock with push-button starting and a Blue Link telematics system for on-call assistance.

Driver controls are smartly arranged and quick to decipher. The audio volume knob is large and center stage and will never be confused with the smaller fanspeed dial. There are buttons to access all features rather than a "media interface" with a joystick or mouse to navigate through pages of minutae for climate control, audio and other functions and preferences.

The front-wheel-drive Azera, the second generation, has the same length as the outgoing model, but it is a little wider (0.4 inch) and the roofline is 0.8 inch lower. It all adds up to a little more interior volume, 107 cubic feet versus 106.9. Even with a wheelbase that is 2.6 inches longer, the turning circle was tightened to 36.5 feet from 37.4, which allows the driver to have no concern in tight parking situations. It is as if the car pivots into position. Trunk space is wide and deep with a low liftover, but at 16.6 cubic feet, it is slightly smaller than before (by 0.3 cubic feet).

The new powertrain is a 293- hp, Lambda II 3.3-liter directinjection V-6 and six-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission. The car moves out sharply and quietly. Fuel economy ratings on the recommended regular unleaded are 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway.

The suspension is comfortable and capable but definitely not set up as a "sport" sedan. There is some wind noise at interstate speeds, but that's because the cabin is so well sealed and soundproofed that ambient noise seems more prominent.

Safety features include nine air bags and impact-absorbing front seats. Large four-wheel disc brakes (12.6 inch front and 11.2 inch rear) are linked with electronic stability and traction controls, brake-force distribution and brake assist.

Pricing for the 2011 Azera ranged from about $26,000 to $31,000. And as good as the last model was — and quite under-recognized for what it was — the new model is an exponential evolution.

Mark Maynard is driving in cyberspace at mark.maynard@ Find photo galleries and more news at

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 01:50

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