Over the last few years, Korea's auto giant Hyundai
has experienced a renaissance. Quality has risen, style has become modern, and the driving experience is as good as any of its competitors from Japan. When the Azera rolled into our test garage, the overwhelming response was, "Oh yeah, that's still around."
The Azera is old school Hyundai, designed when the company had just started to figure out what needed to be done to play with the big boys, but couldn't quite execute it. Everything on the Korean midsize is developed to 7/10. It still seems like this is the test car for newer, better cars like the HYUNDAI GENESIS
and the new Sonata. It isn't necessarily a bad car; it just isn't what we know Hyundai
is capable of.
Build quality is good. Gaps are consistent, the paint is nice, and the styling borrows from some of the best names in the business, but Hyundai
can't quite meld it into a coherent form. There is a bit too much mass over the undersized 17-inch wheels, the part lines look more like they were meant for cost-effective body part-stamping than styling, and the look just doesn't flow like the new Genesis.
While the exterior of the Azera is only slightly disappointing, the interior really starts the free fall of letdowns. The artificial wood interior is an embarrassment to polymers everywhere. The door pulls and steering wheel inserts look like photographs of another car's wood interior rolled inside plastic tubes. Wood is tough to pull off, and when you make a half-hearted attempt like this, it's just impossible. The upholstered surfaces have a soft and deep feel to them atypical of budget-conscious cars, but the visual aspect it is lacking. The dash looks like molded plastic out of an econobox, but once you touch it, you realize it's actually soft. It all comes down to grain and color choice, both of which fail on the Azera.