The Hyundai Azera bridges the gap between the Sonata and Genesis. Does it make a strong enough case when compared to its brethren?
Price-wise, the tested $39,220 Azera Limited bumps up against the $38K entry price for the rear-wheel drive Genesis 3.8.
The Genesis is a class above in road manners and general depth, but the Azera has its own charms. The choice there boils down to a loaded family sedan (Azera) versus something that leans more toward performance (Genesis).
Both the Azera and its platform-mate Cadenza start under $35K, and the Azera tops out just under $40K, while Kia will let you spend another $4K on the flossier Cadenza.
The base Azera is well-equipped, with niceties like power folding exterior mirrors and the 550-watt Infinity Logic 7 sound system.
Standard on all Azeras is the hands-free Smart Trunk. Check that box, and there’s no need to wave your foot under the bumper like Ford’s hands-free trunk; simply stand with the key fob within three feet of the Azera’s rear bumper, and the lid will pop.
It worked well, although sometimes it would lock up when showing it off to friends; you’d have to step out of the three-foot zone for a few seconds so it could reset.
All Azeras also include heated and cooled front seats…
…along with 12-way adjustments and an extendable driver’s cushion. Hyundai calls this trim “3D Carbon”, as in carbon fiber.
Hop up to the Limited, and you get a panoramic roof…
…a Rear Parking Assist System with cross-traffic alerts…
…and enhanced interior illumination, including the sill plates.
The Limited adds manual screens for the side windows…
…and a power sunscreen for the rear. The Azera Limited has plenty to give it a premium feel.
Under the hood of all Azeras is a 3.3-liter V6 that generates 293 fairly eager horses; throttle response is perky.
And despite the Azera Limited’s near-3.900-pound curb weight, it feels remarkably light and nimble.
Handling is aided by a tight 36.5-foot turning radius and a quick 2.9 turns lock-to-lock for the steering.
As with most big front-drivers, the Azera ultimately gives way by simply running wide of your line. But while it is not brimming with enthusiasm, the Azera thankfully never feels asleep.
Inside, the Azera is comfortable. Front seats have decent side support, and the heating and cooling is comprehensive and immediate.
The extendable cushion is an extra boon for tall drivers. We could feel all those ridges that are drawn into the seat facings; maybe they would flatten out over time. It was also notable that the driver’s outer bolsters were showing wear at the test car’s 5,800 miles.
The rear seats were comfortable, but legroom was surprisingly compact-sized, at 36.8 inches. That’s fully three inches fewer than the Chevy Impala. In fact, it’s only 0.7 more inches than the compact Chevy Cruze. The Azera feels roomy back there, but it’s not as stretch-out as some of its competitors.
Rear seat heaters are standard on all Azeras…
…and passengers back there can choose how to direct the air headed their way, though there are no separate temperature controls as there are in the Toyota Avalon.
Trunk room exactly matches the smaller Sonata’s measurement of 16.3 cubic feet.
The instrument panel is functional but looks a little dated, despite the improvements that came for 2015.
Part of it is the center stack; while the larger eight-inch screen is a welcome upgrade, it’s still a bit too far from your fingers to feel like an effortless controller.
The redesigned 2015 Sonata does a better job of making the screen central to the interface, without it perched so far above the hard buttons below it. The Azera’s approach smacks of being of a previous generation.
Another part that feels dated is discordant shaping of the Azera’s trim. Seems like the designers reached for daring but landed on contrived.
Still, the plastic felt sturdy, and the cushy insides of the door pull were a nice touch.
The console has thin trim that mimics metal but reads immediately under you fingers as something less expensive.
The front compartment is big enough to charge a five-inch smartphone, though you can’t close the door when it is plugged in. There’s a second power point behind that compartment, along with another perch for a phone. USB and other connections live in that front compartment as well…
…which leaves the bin under the armrest free to simply be a storage area.
The Azera sells in low numbers; Hyundai sells about 700 of them per month, about the same number Kia sells of the Cadenza. It’s about five percent of the Sonata’s volume.
Azera volume may continue to be low, because frankly, both Hyundai’s own Sonata and Genesis are more compelling choices, with personalities that are more distinct.
Still, a good price on an Azera would find you getting a deal on a cozy car that’s loaded with luxuries. That’s right in line with buyers in the Azera’s class are looking for.
2015 Hyundai Azera Limited
Base Price: $38,200
Carpeted Floor Mats: $125
Destination Charge: $895
Price As Tested: $39,220
Smoothness and quietness
Sharp throttle response
Ridgy seat cushions