2014 Hyundai Azera Limited Review
A sporty relic of the old empire.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: May 6th, 2014
The transformation of Hyundai from automotive joke to serious player has been a remarkable one. For the better part of a decade, Hyundai has streamlined its design, tightened up its quality standards, and the results can be seen in the fact that the Korean automaker now ranks well above Mercedes, Cadillac, BMW, and Land Rover on J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study.
The Azera is an odd bird in Hyundai's fleet, however, although only for us Americans. In Korea and elsewhere, the car has a long history as the Hyundai Grandeur. It took 14 years before the Azera came stateside, and when it did it was at the top of Hyundai's decidedly more downscale 2000 lineup.
A lot has changed since 2000, however, and the Azera has struggled to remain relevant, especially once the Genesis debuted at the 2007 New York Auto Show.
Since then the company has abandoned the "Fluidic Sculpture" design language ("Fluidic Sculpture 2.0" is the new, non-ugly version), and the Azera has been usurped by both the Genesis and the even-more-top-of-the-line Equus.
So now, the question facing Hyundai buyers is why buy the Azera instead of the more stylish Genesis or the more affordable Sonata?
To be fair there are good things about the Azera. It comes standard with more features than any other automaker offers at a premium, it has Hyundai's still hard-to-beat warranties (5 year, 50,000 miles new vehicle coverage, 10 year, 100,000 powertrain coverage), and its 3.3-liter V6 is more than powerful enough to make the Azera a fun sedan to tool around in.
As is befitting the luxury car it began life as, the Azera is plenty comfortable, with premium leather heated seats and power everything. There's a premium Infiniti sound system that actually sounds premium and an infotainment system that's actually not a nightmare to use.
Behind the wheel, everything operates seamlessly, maybe a bit too seamlessly. Part of the disconnect with the Azera is that although it looks aggressive and sporty, it's actually very soft and refined. As far as a car that's tuned for maximum comfort over hot-off-the-line sportiness is concerned, the Azera is very nice. If only its looks reflected its composure, or even if there were different drive settings that actually engaged the driver with the road a bit more, letting some of those 293 horsepower vibrate through the cockpit, the Azera would be hard to pass up.
You see, this is a powerful car, but it doesn't seem that way. This is partly down to how large and heavy the car is, but it's also a result of too much sound-deadening and too little steering wheel feel. You never want your sporty car to be more powerful than it seems, if anything you want it to seem faster than it is.
It's worth noting that the Azera gets impressive mileage out of such a powerful engine. Being able to achieve 19 mpg while driving like a complete idiot should not be understated. As far as horsepower-per-dollar, the Azera is head and haunches above even its much more expensive competition.
The problem is, all those good things are available in other Hyundais, and those cars don't look like they were drawn on the back of a notebook by a 6th grader.
The Azera, both inside and out, is a mess of lines, trim, and angles that have no cohesion and no reason for being. It's clear that the guiding design inspiration behind "Fluidic Sculpture" was Space Gundam V, but the brand has progressed, and it's time for the Azera to either grow up and get a haircut or move out of the house.
If we were betting types, we'd wager that the Azera is only a model year or two away from being put out to pasture. Either that or it needs a serious re-skinning.
That being said, if you can abide the looks, the Azera is a damn good value proposition, and not an un-sporty one either.
Specs & Prices
Engine: 3.3-liter V-6
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Power Output: 293 hp / 255 lb-ft
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Fuel Economy (mpg): 19 city / 29 highway
Base Price: $34,790
As Tested: $37,905
Available Features: 18-inch alloy wheels, heated and power-folding side mirrors, 8-inch touchscreen, Infinity 500-watt surround-sound system, Sirius XM, navigation, rear-view camera.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 Hyundai Azera, click here: 2014 Hyundai Azera.