2012 Hyundai Azera at the 2011 L.A. Auto Show

2012Hyundaiazera

  • Competes with: Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon
  • Looks like: A Sonata with a Jaguar XF tail
  • Drivetrain: 293-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 with six-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: February 2012

Hyundai throws its hat back in the full-size sedan ring with a redesigned Azera. The first-generation car never made much of a sales dent against the Toyota Avalon, Chrysler 300 and Ford Taurus, but its successor boasts Sonata-like styling and better fuel efficiency. It hits Hyundai dealerships in February.

More 2011 L.A. Auto Show Coverage

The seventh car to adopt Hyundai's fluidic styling — the holdouts remain the Veracruz, Santa Fe and Genesis — the Azera looks like a supersized Sonata.

Roughly the same dimensions as its predecessor, the full-size sedan is 3.5 inches longer than the Sonata. A trim plate that says "Azera" joins the taillights, something the old car had, but the angles look far better, with hints of a Jaguar XF. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, with 19s optional.

Inside, the dashboard's winged center stack echoes Hyundai's other recent interiors. The automaker says the Azera boasts more than 45 inches of front legroom and 40 inches of headroom — dimensions that lead the others, but numbers can mislead. Stay tuned for our up-close impressions on room later in the day from the show floor. Overall cabin volume matches the old Azera, which had room aplenty. Trunk volume, at 16.3 cubic feet, beats the Avalon and matches the 300. (The Taurus' dorm-room-size trunk still dominates all three.)

The Azera will come well-equipped. Heated front and rear seats, leather upholstery, power front seats, a navigation system and a backup camera will all be standard. Options include ventilated front seats, rear side-window sunshades and an Infinity stereo.

A direct-injection version of the 3.3-liter V-6 makes 293 horsepower and 255 pounds-feet of torque; last year's optional 3.8-liter V-6 is gone. With a standard six-speed automatic, the new Azera is expected to get an EPA mileage rating of 20/29 mpg city/highway, roughly matching overall mileage in the Avalon (20/29 mpg) and 300 (19/31 mpg) and beating the Taurus (18/28 mpg). Chrysler and Ford offer all-wheel drive in the segment; Hyundai and Toyota do not.

But Hyundai already has the Genesis, and traditional big sedans are declining as family cars like the Honda Accord and Volkswagen Passat boast plus-size cabins. Year-to-date sales for the Avalon, 300 and Taurus are down a combined 11.4%, and even in that crowd, the first Azera was a bit player. Its successor looks to bring a strong value proposition to the segment, but it has a long hill to climb before reaching mainstream. Given the sales tide, we wonder if the stream is even worth swimming.

Clicking on any image below will launch a larger photo gallery; you can browse through them by hitting the right and left arrow keys.

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Comments 

Pierre

Hyundai is full of good ideas, and wows. I never thought Hyundais could be so attractive.

Al

I think this car is going to make an impact, even in a flailing market segment. It has nice lines, and it seems to be a more mature interpretation of the Sonata. I like it, and look forward to being able to see one in person.

Kevin

I've always liked the Azera and this one just makes it better.

sheth

Why does cars.com ignore the Lacrosse? It outsells the 300, Charger and Avalon and battles with the Taurus for best selling large car. What is it with you guys and GM? You make comparisons like GM products dont even exist. You do the same thing when talking about compacts and ignoring the Cruze which is in the top 3 in sales.

Azera looks good on the outside, BUT the interior is way too similar to the cheap Elantra. The interior is a letdown vs the great exterior.

Tony

This car looks awfully familiar. There is nothing new. All the elements are from existing Hyundai and Kia offerings. I don't even need to ask myself where have I seen all these elements. I can tell you exactly where they from.

othree

It seems the Azera is to Hyundai what the Avalon is to Toyota. The upscale model and mainstream model aren't that different, but the buyer certainly is.

Overall, I like what Hyundai is doing. No one ever said that a "value" car had to be ugly.

Sheth,
Buick is more of a premium brand, the Lacrosse comes with a base 4 cylinder, has less interior volume and trunk volume. Lots of reasons not to include it. But yes on price and rear room I would think shoppers might compare them.

sheth

Dave:

Come on now. You cant be seriously saying the Avalon and 300 arent DIRECT competitors for the Lacrosse. Hyundai mentions the Lacrosse in its press release. Hyundai only has ONE brand so some of its models (Genesis and this car) compete with so called "luxury" brands. The Lacrosse has a base four cylinder with eAssist that allows it to best the mileage of any other car in its class. Thats just what Buick chose to do with the car. That has nothing to do with it not being a competitor for the other large cars you mentioned. If Hyundai considers it a target car I would say the Lacrosse is a competitor. Based on size, rear legroom and V6 power the cars will compete. As for trunk space, the Lacrosse only has 1 less cu ft than the Avalon- which you list as a competitor.

jett1000

Stunning car, sonata in front, optima/sonata in back. Optima is especially obvious in the taillights.

sheth

PS:

Avalon has a HIGHER starting price than Lacrosse so if it competes with this car the Buick does as well.

Nice exterior, derivative interior. Too much silver plastic around the center stack.

George

How about the fact the Lacrosse looks like a Chinese tank? [GM is giving China top billing, so they design for them first]
How about the fact GM totally screwed up the axle ratios with the 3.0 V6 engine?
the e-assist isn't enough to make up for tall gearing.

and the EPA midsize class is a tough one for the Lacrosse to compete in.

Smart that the 3.3 V6 was used, so the KIA premier front drive can use the 3.0 V6.

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