Hyundai Azera, 2013: Strong entry in tight full sedan field

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One year after its complete redesign, the 2013 Hyundai Azera remains much the same as its year-older sibling. It’s the South Korean manufacturer’s entry level full-size sedan and it’s positioned between the Sonata and Genesis.

Unlike many manufacturers who sometimes make it difficult to chose from an overload of available trims, the 2013 Hyundai Azera is available in only one trim. It’s offered as a 3.3-liter V6 with 293 horsepower, a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.

The Weekly Drive

It’s uncommon for two different cars from the same manufacturer to be considered competitors. But the Genesis is Hyundai’s entry point in its luxury lineup, followed by the top-line Equus. Yet the Azera could easily make the carmaker’s luxury car ranks.

The 2013 Hyundai Azera is a near-luxury sedan.
The 2013 Hyundai Azera is a near-luxury sedan. Images © James Raia/2013

Its sleek, Euro-look exterior is matched with an elegant interior that boasts a lot of space, provides a quiet, luxury-like ride and has an exhausting list of standard features.

The full-size market is flush with fine cars — Ford Taurus, Dodge Charger, Chevrolet Impala, Buick LaCrosse, Acura TL, Lexus ES350, Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon and Chrysler 300. That’s a hefty load of competitors for the Azera, and it just doesn’t have the same reputation or expected resale value of some more enduring full-size offerings.

But it’s hard not to like the Hyundai Azera. Consider the standard features list: 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats (with driver lumbar adjustment), 60/40-split-folding rear seats, heated front and rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a chilled glovebox, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a navigation system, a touchscreen interface, BlueLink emergency communications and a 10-speaker audio system with a CD player, an iPod/USB audio interface and HD radio.

The only option for the Azera is the Technology Package (around $6,000), which was included in my test vehicle. It added 19-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, a power rear sunshade, manual side window sunshades, a power-adjustable steering wheel, driver seat memory functions, power-adjustable driver thigh support, ventilated front seats, interior ambient lighting and a premium Infinity 14-speaker sound system.

Part of my week with the Azera was a 200-mile round-trip weekend trek from Sacramento to the Lake Tahoe region. My wife and I left during commuter traffic around 5 p.m on a Friday night and the 2 1/2-hour drive each way seemed shorter. The Azera is not only comfortable, its acceleration is commendable for a full-size car. Despite the steady incline and winding mountain roads near the famous lake, the Azera never hesitated.

My only concern with the Azera is the ride quality is compromised by a lack of astute handling. Despite its near-luxury status, the Azera doesn’t grip the road with authority. Rather, there’s a degree of float.

Likes:

Spacious interior with upscale materials.

The V6 engine gets the job done.

Substantial list of standard features.

Efficient, stylish, expansive sunroof.

Above-average acceleration.

Large trunk (16.3 cubic feet).

Ambient lighting (and plenty of it) adds to luxury feel.

Dislikes:

Doesn’t grip the road as well as anticipated.

Combined gas mileage not so good.

Facts & Figures: 2013 Hyundai Azera

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 6.7 seconds.
Airbags (6).
First aid kit: Not available.
Fuel economy: 20 mpg (city), 29 mpg (highway), 23 mpg (combined), six-speed automatic transmission.
Government Safety Ratings: IIHS, Moderate Overlap Front, Good; Small Overlap Front, Not Rated; Side Impact, Good; Rear Crash Protection, Good; Roof Strength, Good.
Horsepower: 293.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $32,250.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.hyundaiusa.com.
Price As tested. Unavailable.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited mileage; Roadside Assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“Inside and out, the all-new-last-year Hyundai Azera is, in 2013, arguably the best-looking car in the large-sedan class.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“Whether you’re carrying family or business colleagues, the Azera has the seating space, smooth ride, and luxury-car feel, overall, to keep everyone comfortable.” — CarConnection.com.

“The Azera is all about comfort and isolation from the elements. Road and wind noise are minimal, and the soft suspension filters out impacts from all but the roughest roads. Less optimally, the steering feels isolated (artificially so) and there’s a bunch of body roll in corners.” — AutoTrader.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“The 2013 Hyundai Azera provides one more reason why anyone who still has doubts about the carmaker shouldn’t. The Azera shines on multiple levels and holds its own in the crowded full-size sedan market.”

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