Car Review: 2013 Hyundai Azera

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One of the hottest selling sedans on the road today is the 2013 Hyundai Azera, and we had the opportunity to drive one for a week to see what all the buzz is about. We learned that Hyundai continues to take on segments of the auto industry that probably didn’t see products like the Azera approaching in their rearview mirror!

EXTERIOR

The Azera is a modern and sophisticated interpretation of Hyundai’s signature Fluidic Sculpture design language, which looks very attractive when parked or being driven. With the new Azera, Hyundai continues to offer customers the highest levels of luxury, performance and efficiency, all brought together in the praised design. Azera’s Fluidic Sculpture design takes inspiration from the mechanics of flight. The exterior of the Azera is long, light and low with a very upscale appearance. The unique, undulating beltline allows for a long, sleek roofline accented by the third window and wraparound LED taillights. A monoform side profile includes flowing lines in the rear quarter panel. The face is masculine with a powerful, winged chrome grille and HID headlamps that integrate precise details. The stance is completed by available 19-inch multi-spoke wheels that we sported on our test model. The venetian red paint looked amazingly shiny without a mar to be found.

INTERIOR

The elegant look of the 2013 Azera continues inside where Hyundai has created an upscale ambiance, thanks to a flow-through center fascia and instrument panel that creates a dual-cockpit front passenger space. These flowing surfaces complement the exterior design and wrap around the driver and passengers. The 2013 Azera offers luxurious appointments that rival the finest premium competitor brands. It offers a roomy cabin with more than 45 inches of legroom and 40 inches of headroom for front-seat passengers. Hyundai focuses heavily on other interior details, such as an optional panoramic sunroof, which allows more natural light into the cabin and 3D Carbon interior accents. Ambient lighting compliments the vehicle’s modern appearance. Other standard luxury equipment includes power front seats, power rear sunshade and manual rear side window shades. The side shades, not found on any other car in the Azera’s segment, can be inconspicuously tucked away when not in use.

Given the functionality and design of the Azera, seat quality and comfort is of extreme importance to the feel of the car. The 2013 Azera offers first-class seating for all passengers, with leather seating as standard equipment. A ten-way power driver and eight-way front passenger seat are also included. The driver’s seat has an optional cushion extension and an integrated memory system for the seat, steering wheel and side mirrors, while the Azera’s climate and seat temperature controls keep occupants in total comfort. Our 2013 Hyundai Azera also boasted ventilated front seats, heated front and rear seats standard, dual automatic climate control standard, second row air vents standard and cooled glove box standard.

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First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Azera – The Return of the Full-Size Sedan

Before crossovers, minivans, SUVs, and “lifestyle utility vehicles” entered the marketplace, U.S. roads were full of full-size sedans. These cars offered average American families size, comfort and presence that no one else in the world could experience. But like dinosaurs, fedoras and cheap coffee, this segment went extinct as gas prices rose, the products became worse and different segments replaced them. But now, this uniquely American segment is seeing a revival, with the Hyundai Azera leading the charge.

The Azera is not new to our shores, but until now has always occupied an odd spot in the lineup. In fact, with a revised Sonata, it was on the verge of extinction. But for 2012, the Azera is all new. New looks, more power and all for around 30k. What you’re witnessing is not only a new car, but also one of the first entries in a revitalized category.

Exterior

Big cars need to be distinctive on the outside. You should be able to see them coming from two miles away on the highway because of their presence and size. The Azera is certainly an attractive car, but not in the traditional big car way. The Azera continues Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” design theme seen in the Sonata and Elantra, but has been toned down compared with its smaller siblings.

Gone are the deep creases along its flank, like the Sonata, and the overly stylized headlights. In turn, the Azera is more subdued, refined and upscale. This can be seen in its arching rear taillights that span the entire rear, or the slightly upraised haunches. But presence is added by chrome detailing and upscale design cues, such as the jeweled headlamps.

The car looks expensive, but so do many in its segment. Cars such as the Taurus and LaCrosse, and especially the 300C, have also brought styling into the full-size segment. With this in mind, the Azera loses a bit of that full-size presence on the road. That being said, it brings Hyundai’s design language into a new class segment and looks good doing it.

Interior

Interior space and design is the killer app of full-size sedans. They must not only provide space and comfort for occupants, but also a sense of design that takes advantage of the size these cars offer. The interior of the Azera lives up to this tradition. The Y-shaped dash welcomes occupants much like that in the Sonata, but immediately apparent is the new found shoulder, head and legroom. It’s not much larger than the Sonata, but the overall result is comforting – just enough to be accommodating, but not so big to make you feel like you are wearing an ill-fitting suit.

The car is also well equipped with a host of standard features that are optional in much more expensive vehicles. For instance, niceties such as navigation, heated front and rear seats, and a navigation system are all standard. And for $4,000, you can add an Infinity sound system, HIDs, panoramic sunroof and a few other premium touches.

The fit and finish is snug and upscale, with soft touch plastics where most of the touch points are and small panel gaps all around. Detailing, though, is one downside. For example: the fake carbon fiber trim that spans the length of the dashboard. This trim piece undersells the air of luxury that this car has and looks gimmicky. Wood would be a much better fit for the image that this car exudes. Some people enjoy the look of carbon fiber, but wood should at least be an option. Styling niggles aside, the interior showcases the value that Hyundai continues to offer by bringing a dearth of technology and convenience pieces to the table standard, and raising the bar that much higher for not much more money.

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