The Koreans assault Buick
Hyundai hit a hole in one. First, it replaced the marvellously forgettable XG350 by an all-new sedan. Then, this new car distinguishes itself in the AJAC's annual 'Best new Family Car Over $35,000' category test. The Azera beat out great rivals such as the Toyota Avalon, the Audi A4 Avant, The Buick Lucerne, The Dodge Charger R/T and the BMW 325xi Touring.
What exactly did this big sedan do to charm the AJAC's members, and to convince them in voting it at the top of its category? That's what I wanted to know, so Hyundai is lending me an Azera for a week.
What I realize, after a few days behind the wheel, is that this Hyundai seems to be destined to an older clientele, who prefer a spacious, smooth and quiet highway cruiser. In fact, it looks like the Azera is on a mission to assault a struggling brand, namely Buick.
If the front end of the car is relatively anonymous, its posterior looks pretty good. Its muscular rear flanks are sexy, its long hood recalls big Detroit sedans of yore, and the chrome brightwork completes the package nicely.
On the road
What an engine! Power, torque, the Azera offers impressive accelerations. Passing power is good, but the gear changes are slow with the automatic transmission. To gain that critical extra fraction of a second when passing,
The suspension is a good indication that Hyundai is out hunting for Buick Lucernes. On the highway, this big car floats over rippled pavement, and the shock absorbers' travel is fairly pronounced. However, it's far from being unpleasant, and fits perfectly with the mission of the Azera. In general, the powertrain entices you to push more and more, but the suspension reminds you in a friendly fashion not to get too carried away. Nothing exciting to say about the steering; it does its job like it should, and is light and well-dosed. The 4-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock and brake force distribution assure prompt and linear immobilizations.
I'm a little disappointed with the fuel economy, however. I have a lot of trouble getting the average below 14.0 L/100 km.
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2006 Hyundai Azera Specifications
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