What's New for 2008
The midlevel SE trim is discontinued for the 2008 Hyundai Azera. In its place, the entry-level GLS gains standard 17-inch alloy wheels, satellite radio and additional options. The top-level Limited trim gains a standard sunroof and Infinity sound system, while a navigation system is a new option. The Azera's suspension has been adjusted to improve the ride/handling balance, which is welcome news, as suspension tuning had been one of our few complaints.
The definition of a full-size sedan has changed just a tad over the years. It used to indicate land yachts the size of Connecticut, Landau roofs and abysmal fuel mileage. Today's modern, space-efficient designs and fuel-efficient engines have made full-size sedans a much friendlier form of transportation -- friendly for the driver, environment and parked cars. The 2008 Hyundai Azera is a perfect example of the modern full-sizer -- a sedan that offers ample interior and trunk space, strong power and materials quality that bridges the gap between family and luxury cars.
A loaded Azera Limited graced the Edmunds.com garage for a one-year long-term test and we came away impressed by its jack-of-all-trades nature. From stop-and-go commuting slogs to long-distance highway treks, the Azera soaked up miles with ease. At just a shade under $30,000, our Azera Limited came packed with features normally found on luxury-branded vehicles costing thousands of dollars more. It comes as no surprise, then, that the loaded Azera is the volume seller, as consumers can't ignore such obvious value. Better yet, this Hyundai isn't just a hastily thrown-together collection of features -- its high-quality interior materials, luxurious trappings and solid overall construction come together in a cohesive package that feels like the work of a true premium brand.
For 2008, more standard and optional features have been added to the base-level Azera GLS to make up for the discontinued SE trim. Along with the Veracruz and Santa Fe, the Azera also gets Hyundai's first optional navigation system, sourced from fellow Korean manufacturer LG. Available on the Limited trim level, navigation automatically comes with the upgraded Infinity Logic7 surround-sound system, which integrates its controls into the touchscreen. Satellite radio is also now standard on all Azeras; however, this sedan still goes without an auxiliary audio jack.
So the 2008 Azera is impressive, but how does it fare against the rest of today's modern full-size sedans? Well, the Toyota Avalon is still the way to go if you desire the most luxury and refinement available in a non-luxury-branded full-size car, while the Ford Taurus provides the most interior and trunk space. The Chrysler 300 is a strong choice for those who value performance and style. That leaves the 2008 Hyundai Azera as a well-rounded candidate with a strong engine, comfortable ride, long features list and luxurious interior at a low price. It has everything most full-size sedan buyers are looking for, except for maybe a Landau roof.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Hyundai Azera is a full-size sedan available in two trim levels. The GLS comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), leather-wrapped tilt-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split rear seat back, wood grain trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, HomeLink and a six-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player and satellite radio. The GLS Premium Package adds leather upholstery, five-level heated front seats and a sunroof (also available as a stand-alone option).
The Limited trim level has all of the above features, while adding power-folding outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, power rear sunshade, electroluminescent gauges and a 10-speaker Infinity sound system with in-dash six-CD changer. The Limited's Ultimate Package adds a power tilt-telescoping steering column, power-adjustable pedals, driver memory functions, a wood grain steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers and a 12-speaker Infinity Logic7 surround-sound stereo including subwoofer.
A touchscreen navigation system can be added to the Limited. When so equipped, the six-CD changer is dropped in favor of a single-disc player. Even in Limiteds without the Ultimate Package, the navigation system comes with the Logic7 surround-sound system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2008 Hyundai Azera GLS comes with a 3.3-liter V6 that produces 234 horsepower and 226 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. The Azera Limited gets a 3.8-liter V6 making 263 hp and 257 lb-ft of torque. Its fuel economy is 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, which is about mid-pack for the full-size family sedan class. Both engines are attached to a five-speed automatic with automanual control. All Azeras are front-wheel drive.
Hyundai equips every Azera with antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags, rear outboard side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. The Azera scored four out of five stars in government frontal-impact crash tests. It received five stars for front-seat protection in side impacts and four stars for rear-seat protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Azera earned a top score of "Good" for its protection of passengers in frontal offset crashes, and a score of "Acceptable" (the second-highest rating) in side-impact testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
Hyundai infuses the Azera's cabin with robust doses of luxury. With good-looking faux wood and metallic piping, materials quality is simply excellent, and those who opt for the Limited will find themselves swaddled in soft, double-stitched leather. However, over the course of Edmunds.com's year-long test of the Azera, the driver seat's light beige leather proved inordinately susceptible to wear and discoloration. Attempts to clean the leather were unsuccessful, so we'd suggest sticking with the black interior option, which looks classier anyway.
Aside from a driving position that can be too high for taller drivers, the Azera's interior is incredibly spacious. The backseat is very comfy, with ample leg- and headroom for just about everyone. The trunk is equally expansive, with 16.6 cubic feet of space and a gigantic opening.
For the money, the 2008 Hyundai Azera offers impressive levels of refinement and composure. Road noise is minimal even at high speeds, allowing for quiet conversations in the cabin. Although it never feels as athletic as cars like the Nissan Maxima and Chrysler 300, the Azera Limited's acceleration is brisk, and there's always ample power on tap from the 3.8-liter V6. Shifts from the five-speed auto are quick and smooth, while the brakes managed to stop this sizable vehicle in a tidy 118 feet from 60 mph.
The Azera's handling is on the soft side, but the car feels predictable and secure around turns and the steering has a slick, accurate feel. Its overall driving experience makes it feel smaller and less yacht-like than some other full-size cars. If your garage in the past has been filled with various Toyota sedans, the Azera should be right up your alley.