In an event, Hyundai CEO John Krafcik was quipped about that he even forgets about the Azera, during a conversation in which the executive was clicking off the extensive list of models the company is launching next year. And the large, sometimes staid sedan has been lost a bit in the shuffle as Hyundai has rolled out smaller four-doors--namely the Sonata and the Elantra--to much acclaim.
But Hyundai isn't giving up on the Azera, fortifying it with a more upscale appearance as it vies with entrenched competition from the Buick LaCrosse, the Toyota Avalon, the Nissan Maxima and the Acura TL.
The most obvious changes are to the outside, where the front end takes cues from the Sonata, with which it shares some underpinnings. The grille, hood and headlights are changed, and features such as ambient lighting and a panoramic sunroof are added.
Power increases in the 3.3-liter V6 to an estimated 295 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque, up from the current levels of 260 hp and 233 lb-ft. It will get about 20 mpg in city driving and 29 mpg on the highway (currently it's 20/28 mpg). The engine is paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox with manual mode.
Though the 3.3-liter is fortified, the previous 3.7-liter that made 283 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque won't be available. Hyundai also ruled out a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder for the Azera.
"We're hoping that the design statement this car makes allows us to draw customers from other segments," said Mike O'Brien, Hyundai vice president of product and corporate planning.
The sedan is available in two variations: the base trim, which includes leather, 18-inch wheels and navigation, and a tech-package upgrade to 19-inch wheels, HID lamps and a better audio system.
The rear suspension is also new, with an independent multilink (five-link) design.