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2014 Hyundai Azera Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2014 Hyundai Azera Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

We're poised on a parking lot in the San Diego suburb of Torrey Pines preceding some drive tests in the 2014 Azera, a 4-door and 5-place sedan of generous scale for the mid-size class constructed by Hyundai, current red-hot car company out of South Korea.

The front-wheel-drive of the 2014 Hyundai Azera unites a powerful yet efficient V6 engine with sculptural bodywork and a spacious passenger compartment filled with a carload of comfort gear as well as electronic vehicle controls.

Origins for Azera trace to a first-generation model for the North American market emerging in 2006 as replacement for Hyundai's original upscale sedan, the XG350. A redesigned second-generation Azera 2.0 appeared in 2012 and for 2014 Azera adds a new entry-level edition with generous reconfigured content and a pared price tag.

Hyundai laces the Azera with serious hardware which includes an independent suspension system and a strong V6 powertrain, plus high-tech electronics to manage the vehicle's dynamic movements as well as communications, navigation, comfort, even on-board entertainment gear.

Yet a forceful engine and extensive content in electronic vehicle controls are not the ingredients which cause our tester Azera to pop out in a cluster of cars parked in that Torrey Pines lot. It's the stunning shape of slick sheet metal that makes Azera so much car eye candy.

Theme for Azera's exterior design is a fluidity of lines drawn in rectangular format but with a radically raked windshield and an arching canopy over the cabin but low-slung windows and side pillars muted to forge the profile of a swift and racy 2-door coupe.

Hyundai labels the design language as "Fluidic Sculpture" inspired by nature to produce the illusion of motion from curvy shapes of rigid surfaces.

Still, you can't miss that brash face sporting narrow eye-slit headlamp clusters on front corners flanking a chromed-fin grille which stacks above the down-low fascia with keenly outlined air intake and foglamps.

Side panels are chiseled with ripples and bulges for wheelwells plus a high-mount character line which rises toward the tail.

The blunted rump looks clean with twin-lamp taillight assemblies wrapping around corners and a body-colored bumper swooping low with dual exhaust pipes tucked beneath.

Azera in the 2014 second-generational treatment gets a unibody structure with a wheelbase length -- measuring the distance between front and rear axles -- of 112 inches while the width of the body extends to 73 inches and the distance from the prow up front to the back bumper tallies to 193 inches -- an inch over 16 feet long.

For suspension the sedan employs independent MacPherson struts up front with coil springs and a 24-mm stabilizer bar. The multi-link independent rear suspension uses a 17-mm stabilizer bar. Sachs-branded automatically adjusting shock dampers apply both front and rear as tuned for smooth and comfortable highway cruising.

Hyundai packs the 2014 Azera with a long list of hardware for safety. For active safety, every issue has a disc brake at each wheel, with electronic linkage to a 4-channel anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and traction control system (TCS). There's also a vehicle stability management (VSM) device to direct the electronic stability control (ESC) system and motor-driven electric power steering (MDPS) system.

Hyundai splits the 2014 Azera line into two models -- Azera the new price-leader issue and luxe Azera Limited.

Both versions draw from one powertrain. Hyundai's Lambda II dual-overhead-cam (DOHC) direct-injected V6 engine displaces 3.3 liters and has dual continuously variable valve timing (DCVVT) equipment to balance the high power output with efficient fuel economy. The plant hits big power numbers: 293 hp at 6400 rpm and torque of 255 lb-ft at 5200 rpm, with fuel figures of 19 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

Both Azera models provide a 6-speed electronic automatic transaxle rigged with Hyundai's Shiftronic mode for manual control of the gears.

Azera's 5-seat passenger cabin seems generous in scale with 107 cubic feet of space.

Standard gear on entry-level Azera ranges from aluminum alloy wheels to foglamps and automatic headlamps, dual power heated side mirrors, leather seat upholstery with heated front buckets, proximity key entry with push-button start, a leather-bound steering wheel, 6-inch LCD audio display with rearview camera and an audio kit with AM/FM/CD/MP3/USB.

Azera Limited adds more equipment:  Xenon HID headlights, memory system for driver's seat plus mirrors and steering column, driver's seat cushion extension, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a navigation system with 8-inch touch screen display, interior ambient lighting, electroluminescent gauge cluster and a 14-speaker Infinity Logic 7 surround sound audio system.

Hyundai sets the 2014 MSRP figures at $31,000 for Azera and $34,750 for Azera Limited.

For more information on Hyundai vehicles, click here.