We just took delivery of a new 2012 Azera, a complete redesign based on the accomplished current Sonata. Positioned above midsized family sedans, the Azera competes most directly with the Toyota Avalon, and both updated cars strive to bring more character to class that aims at baby boomers. Just as Buick has been doing.
Hyundai introduced this Azera at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show. The engine is now a direct-injection 293-hp, 3.3-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic, up 10 horses above the previous Azera Limited and a full 25 horses more than the Avalon. The powertrain's output matches the car's sharper exterior styling, with emphasis placed on a more dynamic stance.
In our tests of the previous generation, we found the ride was superficially compliant, but it could be stiff yet floaty and handling wasn't particularly agile. The new model, which we equipped with the "Technology Package," feels much more planted, with a suspension that seems a lot better sorted out. But will the tauter feel be too alienating for potential customers? We're not sure.
Inside, the Azera is very inviting with a lovely finished cabin that is packed full of content, in keeping with the company's trend. A backup camera and navigation system are standard. The aforementioned Technology Package adds a panoramic sunroof, Infinity audio system, ventilated from seats and other nice odds and ends. However, Hyundai still charges $35 for an iPod cable.
The grand total came to $37,185.
Stylish, powerful, and high-tech, the Azera has become more sophisticated with the redesign, while still aiming to appeal to its target audience. Still, it has its work cut out, as the revised Avalon scored well in our tests. We'll find out how it compares in the weeks ahead as the Azera goes through break-in miles and on to our formal test program. It seems that the traditional "old man's cars" are becoming decidedly more modern, while preserving core attributes and aiming more toward the young at heart, regardless of age.
Check back for more updates on this and other mid-priced luxury sedans.