What's New for 2010
For 2010, the Hyundai Azera sees only minor changes to its feature content. Last year's Ultimate package has been eliminated, with many of those features now standard on the Limited trim level.
When it comes to automobiles, the term "value" isn't limited to a low price -- it also refers to getting a lot for your money. Among full-size sedans, the 2010 Hyundai Azera represents an undeniable value. In its base form, the Azera is well appointed with plenty of features and comes in just under the $25,000 mark. Even the range-topping Limited with all the bells and whistles represents a relative bargain at less than $33,000.
These prices may bring out the skeptic in some buyers, with assumptions that sacrifices may have been made in other areas -- like quality, materials and power -- but that is simply not the case with the Hyundai Azera. High-quality materials adorn the cabin, and the base 3.3-liter V6 should be adequate for many drivers. A more powerful 3.8-liter engine available on the Limited will likely satisfy a wider audience, with acceleration that can even be described as sprightly among competing models.
The Azera's value-leading status is further enhanced for 2010, with the elimination of last year's optional Ultimate package. Features from this package, like a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver seat memory, wood grain steering wheel and door pulls, are now included in the Limited trim level. The Azera Limited's price increases a bit, but not nearly as much as the Ultimate package would have cost. It's also worth noting that the Navigation package drops in price by almost 40 percent compared to last year.
Of course, the 2010 Hyundai Azera isn't the only game in town. Its main rival, the Toyota Avalon, is a bit more refined and luxurious, but perhaps not enough to justify its higher price. The redesigned Ford Taurus is priced competitively with similar features, but it drives and feels like a much bigger car. Buick's new LaCrosse is another stylish alternative, but it's hamstrung by middling performance and limited cargo space. Among these sedans, the Hyundai Azera emerges as a very well-rounded choice and one worthy of serious consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Hyundai Azera is a full-size sedan that is offered in GLS and Limited trim levels. The base GLS includes 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way driver and four-way passenger power front seats, a 60/40-split rear seat, wood grain interior accents, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a six-speaker stereo with an in-dash six-CD changer, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio connection. The optional Premium package adds a sunroof, leather upholstery and five-level heated front seats.
The Azera Limited includes all of the above plus a larger engine, power-folding mirrors, a power rear sunshade, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver-seat memory functions, a wood-trimmed steering wheel and door handles and a 10-speaker Infinity stereo. Limited buyers can opt for the Ultimate Navigation package, which adds a navigation system and an upgraded 12-speaker Infinity surround-sound system. Unfortunately, selecting this package will eliminate the six-CD changer and both auxiliary audio inputs. Bluetooth is a stand-alone option.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Hyundai Azera GLS is powered by a 3.3-liter V6 that produces 234 horsepower and 226 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. The Azera Limited sports a 3.8-liter V6 that makes 263 hp and 257 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is only slightly lower, at 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard on all Azeras. We've tested a few Azera Limited models over the years; expect a 0-60-mph time in the low-7-second range.
Standard safety equipment for the 2010 Hyundai Azera includes traction control, stability control, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags, rear outboard side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Antilock disc brakes are also standard and manage to bring the full-size Azera to a stop in an impressive 118 feet from 60 mph.
In government crash tests, the Azera scored four out of five stars in frontal-impact crash tests and five stars for side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Azera its top score of "Good" for its protection of front passengers in frontal-offset crashes and a score of "Acceptable" (the second-highest rating) in side-impact testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2010 Hyundai Azera surrounds occupants with a level of luxury that is typical for a car costing much more. The quality look and feel of the faux wood and metallic trim complement the stately cabin design, as do the many soft-touch surfaces. Opting for the leather upholstery further enhances the upmarket accommodations. We will note, however, that in the year we spent with a 2007 Azera during a long-term test, we noticed our test car's light beige seats were susceptible to wear and discoloration; the dark leather upholstery might be advisable.
The Azera's tall seating position may limit headroom for taller drivers, but aside from that, the cabin is quite spacious. The rear seats provide plenty of comfort for adult-sized passengers with ample leg- and headroom as well. All-around visibility is also quite good thanks to a low cowl and narrow roof pillars. The generous trunk can hold up to 16.6 cubic feet of cargo, and the wide opening facilitates easier loading. When larger items need transporting, the 60/40-split rear seats fold down to further increase cargo capacity.
Despite the budget-friendly price tag, the 2010 Hyundai Azera delivers an impressive amount of refinement. Road and wind noise are minimal, allowing for quiet conversations even at highway speeds. Acceleration is strong with the Limited's V6, while the five-speed automatic transmission makes the most of available power with quick shifts and well-spaced ratios.
While the Azera may lack the athleticism found in other sedans (like the Mazda 6 or Nissan Maxima), we're confident that most drivers will find the big Hyundai more than adequate. Handling is on the soft side, but the car feels predictable and secure around turns and has a reasonably precise steering feel. On the whole, the Azera drives like a much smaller car when compared to the competition.