Full 2009 Hyundai Azera Review
What's New for 2009
The Hyundai Azera gets revised steering and suspension for 2009, along with blue interior lighting, standard electroluminescent gauges, an iPod/USB audio input, a standard auxiliary audio jack and a new chrome grille.
Full-size sedans have changed a wee bit over the decades. They used to be land yachts the size of Belgium with landau roofs and the fuel mileage of the Carnival Crown Princess. In today's world of modern, space-efficient vehicle packaging and fuel-efficient engines, full-size sedans are a much friendlier form of transportation -- for the driver, the environment and all the other cars on the road. While there are a handful of performance-oriented models, most full-sizers cater to comfort- and luxury-minded buyers (usually older Americans) who value loads of passenger and cargo space. For this type of buyer, the 2009 Hyundai Azera is an excellent choice.
It certainly was for us, as a loaded Azera Limited graced our long-term test garage for one year and 18,530 miles. From stop-and-go traffic to long-distance highway jaunts, the big Hyundai soaked up miles with ease. Fully loaded cars are not usually top sellers, but in the Azera's case, our test car was pretty indicative of the average purchase. It's not hard to see why, considering that for a shade under $31,000, the Azera comes packed with features found normally on luxury-branded vehicles costing thousands more. And that's not to say the Hyundai Azera is some Costco bargain bin of goodies stuffed into an unimpressive metal shell. Far from it; the Azera features high-quality materials, luxurious textures, an attractive (albeit conservative) design and solid construction in a cohesive package that could easily merit a higher price tag.
Plus, for 2009, Hyundai has made some nice changes to the Azera. The steering and suspension have been revised to deliver a more refined driving experience, but the bigger news occurs inside. The old-school greenish lighting that used to pepper the dash has been replaced with cool blue instrumentation, bringing the Azera in line with the rest of the Hyundai lineup. One of our principal beefs with the Azera was also addressed twofold: an auxiliary audio jack has been added, along with a USB port that includes iPod stereo controls.
There are certainly other players in the full-size game. If you're looking for the most space available, nothing touches the enormous Ford Taurus, while those hankering for a more old-school approach to a full-size sedan should enjoy the Chrysler 300 and Pontiac G8. However, the Azera's primary competition is the vehicle it was so clearly benchmarked against: the Toyota Avalon. The Avalon offers a bit more luxury and refinement, to be sure, but we're not sure if that's enough justification for its much higher price. That leaves the 2009 Hyundai Azera as an attractive, well-rounded candidate with a strong engine, comfortable ride, long features list and luxurious interior at a low price. In other words, it has everything most full-size sedan buyers are looking for -- except maybe that landau roof.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Hyundai Azera is a full-size sedan available in GLS and Limited trim levels. Standard equipment on the GLS includes 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way driver and four-way passenger power front seats, a 60/40-split rear seat, wood trim, a tilt/telescoping steering column, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio connection. The Premium Package adds a sunroof, leather upholstery and five-level heated front seats.
The Azera Limited adds those items, plus a larger engine, power-folding mirrors, a power rear sunshade and a 10-speaker Infinity stereo. The Limited Ultimate Package adds a power-adjustable steering column and pedals, driver memory functions, wood steering wheel and door pulls, rain-sensing wipers and a 12-speaker Logic 7 surround-sound system with an in-dash six-CD changer. A navigation system is optional on the Limited and includes the Logic 7 system; however, when so equipped, you lose the six-CD changer and both auxiliary audio jacks. Bluetooth is a stand-alone option.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 Hyundai Azera GLS is powered by a 3.3-liter V6 that produces 234 horsepower and 226 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. A 3.8-liter V6 powers the Azera Limited, with 263 hp and 257 lb-ft of torque. Its fuel economy is 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard on all Azeras.
In performance testing, our long-term Azera Limited test car went from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, which is quite swift for a full-size sedan.
Hyundai equips every 2009 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 side 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 plenty of luxury and features. With convincing faux wood and metallic piping, materials quality is very good, and those who opt for the Limited will find themselves swaddled in soft double-stitched leather seats. However, over the course of Edmunds.com's yearlong 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 or new brown interior color options.
Aside from a perched driving position clearly not designed with taller drivers in mind, the Azera's interior is incredibly spacious. Visibility is quite good thanks to a low cowl. The backseat is very comfy, with ample leg- and headroom for just about anyone. The trunk is equally expansive, with 16.6 cubic feet of cargo space and a gigantic opening.
For the money, the 2009 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 rear-drive cars like the Pontiac G8 and Chrysler 300, the Azera Limited's acceleration is strong, 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 an impressive 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. The Azera's overall driving experience makes it feel smaller than some other full-size cars. If your garage in the past has been filled with various nicely equipped Toyota sedans, the Azera should be right up your alley.