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October 2006
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2006 Hyundai Azera

The Good :)  Sleek and stylish exterior. Clean flowing interior with high quality materials and deep glossy wood trim.  Silent engine. 0-60mph in 6.2 seconds.

The Bad :(  Steering is very light without much road feel.  Front wheel drive does not feel as good as a rear wheel drive vehicle.

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            Hyundai offers a total of four sedans with the all new 2006 Azera being the largest and most luxurious of them all.  Since its establishment in 1967, Hyundai Motor Company has grown to become Korea's largest automobile manufacturer with a sales network extending to 193 countries.  In 2004, Hyundai passed a major milestone with the export of its 10 millionth car.  Furthermore, Hyundai has recently invested over $1 billion in their first assembly plant on U.S. soil.  The new plant in Montgomery, Alabama, will initially produce the new 2007 Sonata and Santa Fe models.

In the US, Hyundai is strongly gaining in popularity as reflected in various surveys.  Hyundai's August sales were up 24.6% to 224,537 units.  This is in a time when many domestic automobile manufacturers are seeing large declines in their year-over-year sales.  Hyundai is the highest ranked non-premium nameplate in the 2006 Initial Quality Study and is ranked third among all nameplates.  Hyundai owners had fewer problems with their vehicles than any other non-premium car or truck brand, more reason to test drive a Hyundai.

"Outperforming incredibly outstanding competitors at their own game for the first time is a major milestone for Hyundai," said Owen Koh, Hyundai's President and CEO. "This ranking demonstrates what tremendous strides we have made in quality, especially with an almost entirely new model lineup."

            The all new Azera is perhaps Hyundai's crown jewel. It's the most luxurious sedan they have ever produced and it aims to propel Hyundai into the larger full-size category that is dominated by the Toyota Avalon and various US brands.  Hyundai established themselves in the US market with small and mid-size cars.  The Azera puts the more lucrative full size car market in Hyundai's crosshairs.  Costing about $3,000 less than a Avalon and providing more airbags as well as stability control, not to mention the soft leather and beautiful interior style, the Azera shows us what free competition can deliver in the automotive market.

            Exterior design is elegant and polished with good use of chrome providing a high end feeling.  The front end is sharpened and unique with triple beamed headlamps, a smoothly flowing bumper, and a bulging hood with recessed fenders.  A more muscular look is achieved by having stylish rear fenders, reminding us of Italian sports cars.  Hyundai designers have made a tall cabin to provide more interior room as well.  Large 17-inch wheels and P235/55VR tires are noticeable as you walk up to the Azera.  Chrome trim is also used nicely from the front bumper and grille to window trim and doors.  The rear end is especially stylish as Hyundai has given the Azera a unique look.  A BMW-like rear trunk lid with multi beam LED tail lamps and dual exhaust tips on a very clean and rounded bumper looks just great.  The exterior styling is very well done and we commend Hyundai on this. 

            A fine job was done designing the interior of the Azera, giving drivers an elegant, comfortable, and spacious feeling.  We liked the flowing wood encircling you in the driver's seat.  A dash board that slopes away from you gives you a sense of peace and relaxation.  We also liked the use of leather on the door panels and the soft leather look trim used throughout the cabin instead of hard plastic.  The feeling inside is one you get in a premium sedan from Lexus or Mercedes.

            When comfort is the driving force, making a driver's seat that is power adjustable in many ways is something you just cannot live without.  In the Azera you are able to sit in a optimum cradle position and have some lower back support as well.  Front seats are also heated with dual five position heat switches.  A downward slanting armrest up front looks very appealing to the eye and holds buttons for windows and mirrors as well as door locks.  The two front windows are one-touch up and down, a useful feature, while the rear window switches must be held down.  The elegant glossy wood and leather trimmed shift lever is surrounded by a plastic material made to look like aluminum which is probably the only cheap feeling part in the Azera.  A rear window shade switch is also located here to block sun for rear seat passengers and it automatically lowers when the driver moves in reverse gear and then again rises up when you shift to drive. 

An Infinity audio system with 10 speakers and 315 watts of power gives excellent rich sound.  Volume control is speed sensitive and a 6-disc in dash CD/MP3 changer as well as a tape deck is included.  Lacking is an easy to use input jack for an Ipod.  The speaker quality is good with most of the sound coming from the front zone of the car and we would have liked a system with DSP for better surround sound experience.

The simple and easy to use dual zone climate control system sits just below the stereo.  The fully electronic system is intuitive, there is no dial to turn, and it features automatic air recirculation.  All buttons feel good and are stylish in a stereo system fashion.  In our test the system was quiet and noise free. 

The instrument cluster is elegant with a high end electroluminescent gauge cluster.  A look at our nighttime photo should show you how it appears.  A large screen inside shows the trip computer and average miles per gallon.  We liked the small felt lined storage spaces in the console and the dash which are good to store a cell phone and other gadgets.  Also nice is that all items open slowly giving a more luxurious feeling.  Paneling for the roof material is high quality textured fabric, something not found in most cars below $30,000.  With the Azera you also get thick carpeted floor mats of better quality than most. Automatic headlights make for one less thing you have to remember to do. 

The sunroof is a one touch open and close unit which is also rare these days in this price range.  The sunroof did not make too much noise in normal city driving and thus was very useful.  The use of solar glass all around is also very appealing because we live in a high UV area and inside the Azera you can feel the difference in strong sunlight immediately.  As the ozone layer depletes, we should all have this sun blocking glass.  A simple digital clock at the top of the dash should be changed to be more elegant inside and large letters stating that a passenger airbag is off is not necessary all the time.

            In the rear cabin the seats are the first thing you notice.  They are comfortable and soft.  The use of wood trim on the interior door grab handles is elegant and beautiful as is the leather armrest and leather trim.  The leather is soft as in a Lexus giving a luxurious feel.  The bottom seat cushion in the seats could be lengthened for more thigh support.  Rear seats fold in a 60/40 fashion when you need to carry long items.  The trunk is spacious and deep making for lots of room for all your goodies.  The small third quarter windows add a nice touch for good visibility all around for rear seat passengers.  Also noticeable here is the suede like wrapping around the door edge trim and the fact that all four seating positions have the Azera logo on the entry plate of each door.

            The Azera features a powerful 263 horsepower 3.8-liter all-aluminum DOHC V6 engine.  In addition, the Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) uses a cold air-intake system producing responsive, efficient power.  This is mated to a manually shiftable 5-speed automatic transmission which is also driver adaptive and changes over time to your driving habits.  Good steering response is provided by a power-assisted, speed-sensing, rack-and-pinion steering system.  We were extremely pleased with the level of refinement in the Azera.

Turn the key and you will be impressed at the silent engine when starting.  The car is so silent that you might mistake it for a hybrid.  Power delivery is great with the high horsepower V6.  The amount of power is controlled nicely with the pedal, not being too jerky.  The driving experience is further enhanced by the thick leather and wood steering wheel which many automakers forget.  The tactile response to a good steering wheel is amazing.  The ride overall is luxurious and supple, not at all sporty.  The quiet ride and low noise levels inside also adds to the feeling of luxury.

Having loads of power in a front wheel drive vehicle, it is important to have features like Electronic Stability Control, and Traction Control along with Antilock Brakes.  On hard acceleration the Azera did not exhibit any wheel spin or understeer.  Gear changes are slow but very smooth.  At full throttle, gear shifts occur at 6000 rpm giving you full use of the powerband.  Body lean is evident with a soft suspension, and moderate bounce lessens the confidence while driving.  A stiffer suspension with less body sway would solve this problem.  Brakes are linear with a solid feeling when pushed hard thanks to the 4-wheel disc brakes.  Even with this smooth V6 we found gas mileage to be mediocre.  The window sticker shows 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on highways however we averaged 21 mpg in mixed driving.

            Safety features include a very high number of airbags.  There are a total of eight airbags that give you superb protection all around.  Stability control, traction control, antilock brakes and active head restraints give you just about everything you need and are features that are rarely offered in a car in this price category. 

            The exceptional warranty of all Hyundai's is another reason to buy the Azera.  A 5-year or 60,000 mile new vehicle warranty covers everything.  It is rare to find such a warranty, even from cars costing thousands more.  Furthermore, there's a 10 year or 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.  A 7-year and unlimited mileage anti-perforation warranty along with 5-years of roadside assistance makes this America's best warranty. 

            Our Limited edition Azera costs $26,835.  A premium package includes sunroof and the Infinity Audio system with 6-disc in dash CD changer for $1,500.  A sunroof wind deflector adds $80.  This brings our total to $28,415.  Our test car has 5% of its parts coming from the US and Canada and 93% of its parts coming from Korea.  The final assembly point is Asan, Korea, and both engine and transmission parts come from Korea. 

The 2006 Azera is the finest car in Hyundai's lineup.  It offers a high level of luxury combined with a strong engine and responsive handling.  The Azera makes you feel as if you are driving a $50,000 sedan.  The Azera will put a smile on your face whenever you pull up next to a Mercedes or Lexus.  You will know that you purchased a car that is comparable in luxury, performance and refinement for much less.  This is an outstanding car by Hyundai and it should be a huge hit with American buyers.  Combine this with Hyundai's quality ranking and extra long warranty and you have a compelling reason to go straight to the Hyundai dealer next time you think about buying a new car.  Visit Hyundaiusa.com for more information.

 

 

PRICING INVOICE RETAIL
Base Pricing 24,151 26,835
Destination 660 660
Customer Incentive, Cash (Expires 10-2-06) -1,000 -1,000
Premium Pkg   Limited 1,394 1,500
Ultimate Pkg   Limited 2,334 2,500
Floor Mats 63 85

 

COMPARISONS 2007 Hyundai Azera
Limited 4dr Sedan (3.8L 6cyl 5A)
2006 Chrysler 300
Touring 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
2006 Kia Amanti
4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
2006 Mazda MAZDA6
i Grand Touring 4dr Sedan (2.3L 4cyl 5A)
2006 Mitsubishi Galant
GTS V6 4dr Sedan (3.8L 6cyl 4A)
Pricing Azera 300 Amanti MAZDA6 Galant
MSRP $27,135 $27,825 $27,995 $24,710 $26,999
Invoice $24,692 $25,883 $25,510 $22,812 $25,474
Basic 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi.
Drivetrain 10 yr. / 100000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 10 yr. / 100000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 10 yr. / 100000 mi.
Roadside 5 yr. / Unlimited mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 5 yr. / Unlimited mi.
Rust 7 yr. / Unlimited mi. 5 yr. / 100000 mi. 5 yr. / 100000 mi. 5 yr. / Unlimited mi. 7 yr. / 100000 mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders V6 V6 V6 inline 4 V6
Base Engine Displacement 3.8 liters 3.5 liters 3.5 liters 2.3 liters 3.8 liters
Valvetrain 24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
Horsepower 263 hp @ 6000 rpm 250 hp @ 6400 rpm 200 hp @ 5500 rpm 160 hp @ 6000 rpm 230 hp @ 5250 rpm
Torque 257 ft-lbs. @ 4500 rpm 250 ft-lbs. @ 3800 rpm 220 ft-lbs. @ 3500 rpm 155 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 250 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm
Driven Wheels front wheel drive rear wheel drive front wheel drive front wheel drive front wheel drive
Tires P235/55R17 V
all season
P215/65R17 T
all season
P225/60R16
all season
P215/50R17 V
all season
P215/55R17
all season
Wheels alloy
17 x 7.0 in.
alloy
17 x 7.0 in.
alloy
16 x 6.5 in.
alloy
17 x 7.0 in.
alloy
17 x 7 in.
One-Touch Power Windows 2 1 4 2 1
Premium Steering Wheel Trim leather and wood leather-wrapped leather-wrapped leather-wrapped leather-wrapped
Watts 315 - Optional 276 - Optional 225 - Optional 200 270
Turning Circle 37.4 ft. 38.9 ft. 37.4 ft. 38.7 ft. 40 ft.
City 19 mpg. 19 mpg. 17 mpg. 24 mpg. 18 mpg.
Highway 28 mpg. 27 mpg. 25 mpg. 31 mpg. 27 mpg.
Exterior Azera 300 Amanti MAZDA6 Galant
Length 192.7 in. 196.8 in. 196 in. 186.8 in. 190.4 in.
Width 72.8 in. 74.1 in. 72.8 in. 70.1 in. 72.4 in.
Height 58.7 in. 58.4 in. 58.5 in. 56.7 in. 58.1 in.
Weight 3629 lbs. 3758 lbs. 4021 lbs. 3166 lbs. 3649 lbs.
Wheel Base 109.4 in. 120 in. 110.2 in. 105.3 in. 108.3 in.
Interior Azera 300 Amanti MAZDA6 Galant
Front Headroom 40.2 in. 38.7 in. 40 in. 38 in. 37.7 in.
Rear Headroom 38.2 in. 37 in. 38.4 in. 37.1 in. 37 in.
Front Shoulder Room 57.9 in. 59.4 in. 58.1 in. 55.9 in. 57.3 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 57.1 in. 57.7 in. 57.5 in. 55.2 in. 57.1 in.
Front Hip Room 55.5 in. 55.9 in. 55.2 in. 54.7 in. 54.4 in.
Rear Hip Room 55.1 in. 55.9 in. 54.6 in. 54.1 in. 52.9 in.
Front Leg Room 43.7 in. 41.8 in. 43.7 in. 42.3 in. 42.6 in.
Rear Leg Room 38.2 in. 40.2 in. 37.2 in. 36.5 in. 37 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 16.6 cu.ft. 15.6 cu.ft. 15.5 cu.ft. 15.2 cu.ft. 13.3 cu.ft.

 

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