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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.