The Azera was once the top-of-the-line Hyundai sedan in North America. That, however, was before the appearance of the Genesis and, later, the Equus. Nowadays, the Azera is the slowest-selling Hyundai, despite a face-lift and powertrain revisions last year. Fortunately for fans of soft mid-size luxury sedans, the Azera will be the next Hyundai to get the full attention of the company’s able engineers and designers. The attractive Korean-market Grandeur pictured here looks more or less identical to the next Azera that will go on sale in the States in early 2012. It follows the recent swoopy design themes of the Sonata, the Elantra, and the Accent. Until the new Azera reaches dealerships, the outgoing car (whose specifications are listed in the accompanying spec panel) will remain available, likely at discounted prices. That car is available in two Trim Levels: the base GLS model comes with a 260-hp, 3.3-liter V-6; the Limited gets a 283-hp, 3.8-liter V-6. Both engines deliver highway mileage in the high twenties with the help of a six-speed automatic transmission. Dual-zone climate control, power front seats, and iPod/USB auxiliary jacks are standard on all 2011 Azeras, and available luxury items include a power rear sunshade, leather upholstery, and an optional navigation system. The 2012 model will surely be even more luxurious, but don’t be surprised if it utilizes smaller engines than the 2011 edition’s. If the Azera’s revamp is half as successful as that of recent Hyundais, sales of the Toyota Avalon, the Nissan Maxima, and the Volkswagen Passat will likely suffer.

Drive: Front-wheel
Trim Levels: GLS, Limited
Body style: Sedan, 5-passenger
Engines: 3.3L V-6, 260 hp, 233 lb-ft
3.8L V-6, 283 hp, 263 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 106.9 cu ft
Cargo space: 16.6 cu ft

Everything, but we won’t know specifics until late in 2011. The Hyundai Grandeur (pictured above) from global markets previews the new Azera’s exterior styling fairly accurately.

Dual-stage front air bags, front and rear side air bags, and side curtain air bags are standard equipment on all Azeras. Antilock brakes are also standard, as are traction and stability control, electronic brake-force distribution, and tire-pressure monitors.

All: 19-20 mpg city/27-28 mpg highway

  • All-new model imminent
  • Affordable, spacious luxury
  • Lots of solid competition in Hyundai’s own showroom
  • Far from sporty

Hyundai’s next in line.

  • Chrysler 300
  • Nissan Maxima
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Volkswagen Passat

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