2011 Hyundai Azera Limited: American dreamy

2011 Hyundai Azera Limited

2011 Hyundai Azera Limited

With the 2011 Hyundai Azera Limited, the Korean automaker has nailed the traditional full-sized American car. The Azera Limited is roomy, well equipped, fast, comfortable and with a predictably cushy, foam-pillow-soft ride.  If that seems improbable for a Korean car, well, read on.

For starters, how big is the Azera? Consider EPA interior volume. The 2011 Hyundai Azera totals 125 cubic feet. Forget the LaCrosse, the Azera matches the Buick Luzerne for interior room. It easily trumps Ford Taurus and Chrysler 300, neither of which has more than 105 cubic feet of passenger compartment volume. It feels as roomy as the numbers suggest, with big comfy seats up front and a wide rear seat with lots of legroom in the back.

Naturally, as a Hyundai, it’s loaded with features often considered extras, especially as the premium Azera Limited we tested, but also the base GLS trim level (the Azera comes only base GLS and top-of-a-short-line Limited). Without getting into the full list, the Azera Limited has as standard equipment leather upholstery (with French stitching) and a wood-grain (OK, imitation wood) and leather steering wheel, an Infinity audio system, and an eight-way power driver’s seat with memory (eight-way power for a passenger who has to do the memory thing personally) and power tilt-and-telescope steering wheel with memory. And for your rock star back seat passengers, a power rear window shade.

The 2011 Hyundai Azera has its safety card checked with airbags in front, front and rear seat-mounted side, and front and rear side-curtain airbags, ABS/stability control/traction control/electronic brake force distribution/brake assist as standard equipment.

2011 Hyundai Azera Limited interior

The 2011 Hyundai Azera Limited is very roomy, not only by measure but also by look and feel.

But fast? A Hyundai full-sized sedan? The 2011 Hyundai Azera Limited is powered by a 3.8-liter V-6–the Azera GLS by a 3.3-liter six cylinder–that’s rated at 283 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Healthy horses, at least by the feel. Not that the typical owner will be moved to use the right-most pedal often, at least by our informal demographic analysis, except when merging into traffic (or maybe exiting toll booths). But the Azera Limited has surprising acceleration. Azera takes the worry out of blending with faster moving traffic. If someone is driving a 2011 Hyundai Azera Limited timidly on the entrance ramp, it’s a personal thing.

Then there’s ride comfort. The 2011 Hyundai Azera is one of the most softly sprung and damped cars since the Mercury Grand Marquis. It’s actually has a more sophisticated suspension than the (admittedly defunct) Merc Marq, with a multi-link rear suspension instead of a live rear axle. It’s not quite flaccid and it doesn’t wallow, but Azera is tuned for comfort uber alles, or however one says “to the max” in Korean. Little penetrates the Azera’s cone of softness.

The 2011 Hyundai Azera Limited exchanges handling for  the soft-as-a-cloud ride. It goes where it’s pointed but with the gentle rising and falling of the bow and more lean than most current sedans, few will confuse the Azera with a sports sedan. Operational updating includes one-touch/three-blink turn signals and an “Eco indicator” that nags the driver to drive economically, or is it ecologically?

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John is a veteran auto writer, first published in Custom Rodder magazine in 1980. Since then, he has been published in all the big car magazines, including Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Auto Week, Automobile, plus a variety of others, including but certainly not limited to Automobile Quarterly, Collectible Automobile, and Special Interest Automobiles. John’s work has also been featured in a number of consumer and general interest magazines such as Consumers Digest, Popular Science and others. John has written four books, including a history of the Mazda RX-7 (selling for more out-of-print than it did new), buyers’ guides for Mazda, Datsun/Nissan and Volvo cars, and is co-author of 365 Cars You Must Drive with Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, and his work has been translated into Italian, Estonian, Portuguese, Russian, and Bulgarian. John is recipient of the prestigious Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, awarded by the International Motor Press Association, and the Golden Quill from the Washington Automotive Press Association. John has three adult daughters and has been married for more that four decades to Mary Ann, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.