2006 Hyundai Azera Limited
Re-Writing the History Book
Hyundai Azera Limited Review
Do you remember Hyundais from the 1980s? If you don’t, that’s OK, you’re better off. See, Korean cars used to be only one rung above the Yugo in terms of penalty box transportation. They were cheap, ran for a while and then were quickly forgotten—sort of like most bands from the '80s. Hyundai has been trying to shake that reputation ever since by offering a staggering warranty and more importantly, making each new model infinitely better than the last.
The all-new Azera is proof of how far and how quickly Hyundai has come in regards to making well-built, reliable transportation that people actually welcome driving. Competing with full-size sedans like the Buick Lucerne and especially the Toyota Avalon, the Azera is a comfortable, spacious cruiser that coddles its occupants with luxury equipment at bargain-basement prices. Although starting at only $24,995, our fully-loaded tester came in at $29,335, which is at least five grand less than a comparably equipped Avalon.
Sure, you say, Hyundai has always offered a lot of features for less money, but they’re crummy inside and have no pick up, right? Wrong on both fronts, buddy. Not only does the Azera match the build quality of its Japanese competition, it boasts better plastics and other interior materials than practically every American car. As for being slow, its 3.8-liter 263-horsepower V6 blasts from 0 to 60 mph in just a shade over six seconds. It’s the quickest thing to come out of Korea since their gold-medal speed skating team.
Out on the road, the Azera is typical for its class, offering a smooth ride and light steering that’s happiest on the highway or puttering around town—basically how most people drive anyway. If you’re looking for something more entertaining, you’re in the wrong stadium.
There are two complaints. First, fuel economy could be better, but really, that can be said about most cars. Second, while the rear end is swoopy, with curved haunches and an attractive wrap-around light cluster, the Azera’s designers apparently forgot to style the front end. It sort of resembles the original Acura RL and evokes all the personality of Joe Lieberman. Odds are very good this car’s face will look rather different in a year or two.
Until then, car shoppers can rest assured that Hyundai is a completely different car company than the one that showed up in the '80s. Not only do they offer “America’s Best Warranty,” but they came in third behind only Lexus and Porsche in J.D. Power and Associates’ recent Initial Quality study. Better still, the Azera offers build quality on par with the best from Japan and sports a price that quite simply cannot be beat. It’s time for Hyundai to start writing a new history book.
Warranty/Service: 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty; 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty; 7-year/unlimited-mile rust protection; 5-year/unlimited-mile towing assistance.