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Old 03-16-2006, 11:21 AM
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Hyundai Azera Review-Interesting

Read this today in the Detroit News, may be of interest as it takes on the Buicks and Toyata Avalon and kills them on PRICE! Guess who's NEXT?


2006 Hyundai Azera
This Week in Drive

Hitting on every cylinder

Hyundai Azera will tighten competition in the near-luxury market

Anita Lienert / Special to The Detroit News



2006 Hyundai Azera's plush interior is beautifully accented. See full image

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2006 Buick LaCrosse See full image

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2006 Toyota Avalon See full image

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NOVI -- To passers-by, it must have looked like we were having one rip-roaring fight last August with Hyundai Motor America executive John Krafcik, after an elegant dinner at Shiro, a popular Japanese restaurant.

Krafcik walked up to the brand-new 2006 Hyundai Azera, the Korean brand's biggest and most expensive sedan in North America, and slammed the door. Then he did it again. And again.

But there was no anger involved. Krafcik was just trying to prove a point -- that Hyundai paid so much attention to detail on the Azera that its engineers even got the "door slam" right. That is, rock-solid, not tinny and cheap.

My introduction last summer to the Azera, which replaces the XG 350 as Hyundai's U.S. flagship, held a lot of promise. But it wasn't until I spent a week in a $29,415 Azera Limited in early March that I was sold on the merits of this impressive five-passenger, near-luxury competitor to the Toyota Avalon and Buick LaCrosse.

The Korean manufacturer laced the Azera Limited with such top-of-the-line features as a power rear sunshade, power adjustable pedals and a power tilt/telescope steering wheel. The assembly quality is top drawer -- on par with expensive German sedans that I've recently tested. And the standard safety features are world-class, including electronic stability and traction control, antilock brakes, side air bags and side curtains, plus active front head restraints.

Add to that the fact that the Azera, like all Hyundais, comes with a five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, plus a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and the under-$30,000 price tag looks even more remarkable.

The Azera is on sale now, with prices starting at $24,995, including shipping.

My complaints about the Azera are noteworthy because they are minor and few. The thick rear pillars impede peripheral vision somewhat when changing lanes and parking. The digital display in the center console lights up in a queasy green at night. And I'm not convinced that Azera is a great name for the American market (the car is called Grandeur at home). It sounds too much like the actor Hank Azaria, and I won't be surprised if some consumers actually mispronounce it like that.

The Azera is a critical vehicle for the company and confirms the growing impression that Hyundai diligently has worked its way into respectability. Ten years ago, I enjoyed test-driving Korean vehicles because they provided me with lots of ammunition for hyper-critical reviews. Now, the company and its products are a force to be reckoned with -- and admired for the tremendous strides its made.

Much of my time in the Azera was spent on long commutes on I-94 and I-275, as well as city driving, and the car performed well in all kinds of weather and driving conditions.

The Azera is derived from the mid-size Sonata, building on that vehicle's solid foundation.

The Azera is equipped with all-independent suspension, including double wishbones in front, a multi-link setup in the rear and gas-pressurized shocks at all four corners. Front and rear stabilizer bars are also fitted.

The Azera exhibits a pleasing combination of agile handling with a supple, controlled ride. The best thing about the Hyundai sedan's handling is that it is consistent, with no surprises -- a must for the older, upscale audience at which the car is aimed. The cabin is very quiet at highway speeds, as much of a luxury cue as the solid "door slam" sound.

The Azera is outfitted with a lively twin-cam 3.8-liter V-6 that generates 263 horsepower. The engine is comparable to Avalon's 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, and is considerably more potent than the 200-horsepower pushrod 3.8-liter V-6 in the base LaCrosse. Where the Buick comes with a four-speed automatic, the Hyundai -- like the Toyota -- gets a five-speed automatic. Hyundai adds Tiptronic-style manual shift capability for good measure.

The powertrain feels just right, with smooth shifts and plenty of muscle on tap for freeway merging and passing. Hyundai says the Azera can sprint from zero-60 in 6.5 seconds.

Fuel economy is not as good as you can expect to get in the Toyota, however. The Azera is rated by the EPA at 19 mpg in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway.

The Azera gets high marks for its exterior styling, which is much more contemporary-looking than its predecessor, the stodgy XG 350. If you stripped off the badges, you could easily mistake the Azera for a Japanese offering. It is conservative without being boring. Exterior design cues on the Azera Limited include striking 17-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels and chrome-tipped dual exhaust.

The two-tone cabin is beautifully finished on the Limited model, with polished dark wood, brushed metal accents and seats swathed in top-stitched, gathered leather. The electroluminescent gauges are lifted right out of the Lexus playbook, and heated front seats are standard. The sedan is equipped with dual-zone climate control, automatic headlamp control and full power accessories.

Unlike the Avalon, the Azera does not have a reclining rear seat, yet there is plenty of head and leg room, front and rear. The rear-seat amenities include a pull-down armrest with built-in cupholders, plus map pockets, air vents, a power outlet and individual reading lights. The trunk is roomy and nicely finished with a cargo net.

My Azera Limited test vehicle, which starts at just over $27,000, came equipped with a $2,500 "ultimate" package that bundled the aforementioned power pedals and tilt/telescope column along with a power sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, power folding side mirrors and a premium Infinity audio system with an in-dash CD changer, 10 speakers and speed-sensing volume control.

One key feature that is not available on the Hyundai is an emergency communications system, like GM's OnStar, which is available on the LaCrosse. That may be a deal-breaker for some potential buyers, especially women.

The Azera also lacks such cutting-edge features as adaptive headlamps and adaptive cruise control, although given the frantic pace of development at Hyundai, one suspects it may be offered in the not-too-distant future.

Buyers who are encountering the Hyundai brand for the first time -- and the Azera in particular -- may be forgiven for thinking they're sitting in a Toyota the first time they slide behind the wheel. And while the Korean manufacturer is still far from a household word, exceptional new products like the Azera should help make American consumers more aware of and confident in the brand and the cars.

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Old 03-16-2006, 01:12 PM
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Here's a link to the article.
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Old 03-16-2006, 01:28 PM
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Location: Madison, Wis.
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it seems to me that many of the gripes coming from MB owners who "enjoy" vehicles made in later model years is that the electronics are a complete nightmare, and are the source of many problms and frustrations.

i'd be interested to hear if azara owners will be plagued by their own electronic issues as it sounds like this vehicle is itself equipped with many electronical wonders. if that doesn't end up being the case, then why can hyundi get it right and MB continues to struggle in this regard?

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Old 03-16-2006, 01:52 PM
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Price is pretty good, I'll be sure to check one out in NY this year.

It would be a good Buick, LS330 competitor. Since it is a fwd V6 doesn't really compete with the Germans. BMW doesn't have anything to worry about thats for sure.
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Old 03-16-2006, 02:35 PM
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My wife got an Elantra three years ago. While not as loaded with elelctronic wizardry as the Azera, it has been absolutely reliable. I steered her toward the Elantra for several reasons. One was the warrary, another was, at that time the Elantra was their newest platform, and I felt it provided the best indication of the direction in which the company was heading.
The ONLY problem is the local dealer who has a poor reputation. The only warraty work performed was a replacement of the black trim around the door windows. It was a simple job, but the dealer botched it with poor scheduling, and abysmal followup.
If I used another dealer, I would not hesitate to buy another of their products. I am glad to see that their upscale vehciles are improving.
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Old 03-16-2006, 04:51 PM
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it looks like a regurlar old hyundai... i just love it on top gear how they call the accent the hyundai accident
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Old 03-16-2006, 04:52 PM
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Very good cars. I agree hindered by their dealerships. We almost bought an Elantra but the dealership messed things up and gave us bad vibes. Ended up with a Suby.
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Old 03-16-2006, 05:30 PM
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Getting a rental car once in NM had the option of a Inrepid or a Hyundai XG350. Have to say I was seriously impressed with the car for the few days I had it.
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Old 03-16-2006, 06:41 PM
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I drove an Azera Limited and absolutely loved it, felt like the lap of luxury compared to my Golf.

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Old 03-17-2006, 08:56 PM
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Elantra and Sonata

I had a 760 Volvo that was in need of shocks so I carried into a Midas dealer to have new shocks put on. As it was rising on the lift it started leaking (pouring) antifreeze. The shock I discovered were only available from Volvo and were over $1,000. I totaled up the cost to repair everything wrong on the vehicle and it came to around $4,600. Called the wife (I was 100 miles from home). She said get rid of it and buy a "Throwaway". Enter the Hyundai.
After filling the Volvo with Barrs Leak I pulled into the Hyundai dealership and looked under the Volvo (no leak). Well to shorten the story I drove home in a brand new 1993 Hyundai Elantra with all the bells and whistles including Moonroof for $8,600 bucks. I have to admit that after that drive home I was impressed with the car. The warranty was unbeatable. Put 84,000 on it before my daughter rear-ended her best friend going to school. Ergo "Throwaway". I turned around and bought a 1998 Sonata GLS fully loaded and she's still driving it with 160,000 miles on the clock. Warranties over but repairs have been mimimal. I've been impressed, but it don't compare to my 123.
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Old 03-17-2006, 09:27 PM
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Kia is a sister company to Hyundai...I've had several Rio's, the cheapest new car sold in the US. I bought the first for $4850 new, becaue it had hail damage. The kids called the green monster, because on top of hail dents, and it was a putrid medium green color. These cars are simple and primitive, but they just run and run and run.

On the subject of electronics and reliability of same, all of my household electronics are made in Asia, we don't have any Grundig radios or TV's...why should we expect German automakers to top Asians in automotive electronics? The Japanese, and now Koreans, are just better at making electronics that actually work. Fot that matter, I have pulled several Becker radios out of mid-90's Mbz cars, and they are made in Japan. Perhaps Mbz just needs to buy their electronics from better vendors, the people who know what they're doing...
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Old 03-21-2006, 11:37 PM
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Yeah, as we were just discussing the new Kia Amanti on another thread, this new Hyundai Azera is supposed to be a super car. I like the looks of it very much. It has more HP than the Kia Amanti and it is about 350 lbs. lighter, so probably a lot quicker.

I like the new Buick too though.

Thanks for posting!

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