The 2012 Azera maintains the look of the previous model with its horizontal… (David Undercoffler / Los…)
If you were Hyundai’s front-wheel drive Azera, life was good from 2006-2008. You were the automaker’s top dog, cream of the crop, as good as it got at Hyundai’s dealership.
Then the rear-wheel drive Genesis sedan usurped your preponderant role in 2008, only to be overtaken itself by the paint-by-the-luxury-numbers Equus in 2010.
You wallowed in relative obscurity and watched as cars like the Sonata, Elantra and Accent hogged the limelight and the sales numbers.
FULL COVERAGE: L.A. Auto Show
Now you’re back.
Hyundai pulled the wraps off the 2012 Azera on Wednesday at the L.A. Auto Show. The Azera, Hyundai's latest car to receive the "Fluidic Sculpture" design language, maintains the horizontal lightbar across the width of the trunk that the previous version featured, and it's complemented by a pair of chrome-tipped exhaust pipes at the lower corners of the car.
The front looks like the result of a backseat tryst between Hyundai’s own, smaller Sonata and a Lexus ES350. This is likely no accident, as the Lexus will be one of the Azera’s key competitors when the car goes on sale in February.
Other cars this latest Hyundai will target include Acura’s TL, Buick’s LaCrosse, Ford’s Taurus, and Toyota’s Avalon -- a group largely known for their soft take on entry-level luxury.
Hyundai says all Azeras will come with a long list of standard features including a navigation system, backup camera, leather seats that are heated in the front and rear, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Also included in the mix is efficiency.
The Azera is powered by a 3.3-liter, direct-injected, V-6 engine that makes 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque.
Hyundai pairs this engine with a six-speed, automatic transmission with manual shifting and an eco mode.
This drivetrain ties those in the Acura TL and the Toyota Avalon for best-in-class fuel economy, with an estimated EPA rating of 20 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg combined.
No word yet on pricing, but since the Azera slots between Hyundai’s Sonata and Genesis sedans, expect its price to do the same.