by Roger Biermann
The Hyundai Azera has long been the brand's halo model when it comes to luxury models. That was up until the moment Hyundai launched its Genesis sub-brand, a sub-brand dedicated to, you guessed it, luxury cars. That's left the Azera in quite some predicament – cannibalized for sales by Hyundai's own models. It should come as no surprise then that the 6th generation Hyundai Azera won't be coming to the USA. In fact at the end of 2017, the 5th generation Azera currently on sale will cease to exist anywhere but in used car lots.
The Azera is a large luxury sedan, and it epitomizes everything it's supposed to with copious amounts of space and seating for 4 adult occupants and one child in the middle of the rear bench. The seats are comfortable, with plenty room to stretch out – forwards and upwards.
Trunk space is pretty decent too – with up to 16.3 cubic feet back there. The only packaging faux pas seem to be blind spot and rearward visibility thanks to chunky B- and C-pillars.
Materials are for the most part seriously premium, but they're let down by hard plastics around the cabin, and coarse stitching doesn't lend a premium feel. With only two trims available, one might be worried it's an all or nothing affair in terms of spec, but even the base model features heated and ventilated leather seats, with power operation and memory function. The base model also includes an 8-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
If you're after a full size sedan that you can have some fun with, the Azera isn't for you – move along. It's decidedly comfort orientated, and comes with an automatic handicap of being front-wheel drive; and to that end it suffers from body lean and understeer when pushed. The steering feels oddly weighted and notchy in its movements – no smoothness or directness here, and it's completely numb due to an electronically power-assisted steering setup.
But it soaks up large bumps tremendously well – that soft suspension coming into its own on long cruises. Severely pockmarked roads highlight damping that's a little slow, but on most surfaces it'll be nothing less than ultra smooth. Thanks to superb noise insulation, you'll also be kept in a world of your own – excellent cabin refinement pairing with soft suspension to create a faraday cage of sorts to isolate you from the world..
The Azera derives its urge from a gutsy 3.3-liter gasoline V6 engine that kicks out 293-horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. But it does so through a 6-speed automatic transmission and only front-wheel drive – missing out on the all-wheel drive market entirely. Throttle calibration is a little iffy at times, which results in jerky low-speed traffic driving, but the engine itself is smooth, refined, and offers enough grunt for the Azera's size. EPA economy figures come in at 20/28MPG for city/highway driving thanks to a dedicated Active Eco mode.
This is where the Azera makes up ground compared to competitors. 2 trim levels exist; with the Base giving you heated and ventilated leather seats with power adjustment, full Smartphone integration, dual-zone climate, and power adjustable steering.
Limited trim gives you Xenon headlamps, 19-inch alloys, a sunroof, rear sunshades, and ambient lighting. In the way of safety, a rear view camera is standard, as is blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, and lane change assist. Lane departure and forward collision warnings are Limited-specific. The Azera scored top ratings of Good in IIHS crash tests.
The Hyundai Azera exudes comfort and luxury – at a price point lower than just about any competition when specified comparatively. But sadly it seems value for money and comfort can't save the Azera from Hyundai's own Genesis brand. A good car, but one few will remember when it's gone.