By on November 22, 2010

With its lineup now reaching into realms where even Cadillac dare not tread (namely the $65k Equus luxury flagship), Hyundai is filling in the gaps with ruthless focus. Next up: the near-luxury large sedan segment, where Buick’s LaCrosse has been mounting a one-car comeback for GM’s premium brand. But starting next year, the LaCrosse becomes a mild-hybrid model, lifting its base price to near $30k and giving the Azera an opportunity to become a recession-special spoiler. And with handsome Sonata-meets-Genesis Coupe-meets-LaCrosse looks, the next-gen Azera could just be the first luxurious Hyundai to actually bring real sales volume to the brand. The Azera should launch next year as a 2012 model, and as the gallery below shows, it’s already crawling the streets of Korea, bringing the fight to the Daewoo Alpheon [Thanks to Walter Foreman for the spy shots].

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28 Comments on “Buick Beware: The Korean LaCrosse Cometh...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’m not sure this car is a good idea.  Heck, I’m not sure this whole segment is a good idea, at least not in North America, given sales of the Avalon, Impala**, Taurus and such.
     
    Even if this is a good car, it’s kind of pointless.  People who want more room get crossovers, the Sonata is good enough for everyone else, except those who would pick the Genesis instead.
     
    ** Yes, it sells a lot.  It doesn’t sell for much, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Chiburb

      I think it IS a good idea, especially in the snowbelt.  My dealer says he loses about 5 Genesis sales per month due to RWD and people’s irrational fear of same.
      If this Azera sells for $33K-$35K fully loaded, the question becomes “why a V6 Genesis at $36K-$40K”, especially a base model?
      If I recall correctly, your original review of the Gen questioned the ‘value proposition’ of the V6 while praising (5 stars?) the V8.
      Fwiw, I think this Azera is gorgeous.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I think it IS a good idea, especially in the snowbelt

      Really?  I live in the snowbelt and, near as I can tell, most people don’t even know which wheels drive the car.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      Owning a RWD car, I’d never get another one. Yes, I have great winter tires. But when conditions get bad, FWD + winter tires (or better yet AWD + winter tires) is the way to go.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I have high hopes for this car. The current Azera is the red-headed stepchild of the line up. Hyundai doesn’t make many $33,000 Genesis sedans, so there is an opening in the $30-35k range for this car.

    It’s nice that Buick found a way to differentiate the LaCrosse from the Regal. it made no sense for both to start at $26k. Still don’t understand why they make cloth interior Buicks. Buicks should start at $22k for the Verano, $26k for the Regal and $30k for the LaCrosse.

  • avatar
    John R

    What I want to know is what is the car in front of it here?

    • 0 avatar

      The car in front is the new Hyundai Elantra (Avante in Korea).

    • 0 avatar

      More specifically, it is a new Hyundai Elantra (Avante) with Hyundai’s TUIX body kit. The kit includes a front chin spoiler, a rear deck spoiler with LED CHMSL, side skirts and special waistline mouldings, a rear diffuser, custom fuel filler cap, and special 17-inch dark grey alulminum wheels. The package is a factory option and costs between 1.2 and 1.6 million Korean won (about $1,000 to $1,400 USD).

      The site is in Korea, but you can see pictures of the TUIX body kit here: http://blog.naver.com/shadow1999?Redirect=Log&logNo=50098128984

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Almost no one is going to cross-shop Buick and Hyundai. At best, Hyundai might keep a few step up buyers who liked their Sonata and now want something nicer. Without a premium dealership experience and a country club worthy badge, higher end Hyundais will continue to be a curiosity.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Does Buick really have a premium dealership experience and a country-club worthy badge?

    • 0 avatar
      Chiburb

      That may be true for you, but “affordable luxury” or “luxury without snobbism” plays well in this economy.  There’s also a whole generation that doesn’t know of Hyundai’s rep from 15-20 years ago, and only sees some very attractive cars at reasonable prices.
      To each his own I guess, but my V8 Genesis w/Tech carries a set of golf clubs quite nicely, and never fails to garner admiring questions and comments at the club.

      One more thing:
      My dealership has a very depressing waiting room and even worse service area, but fortunately I don’t spend much time there.  That said, the service writers and techs are great (skilled) and down to earth (regular people).  Much more important to me than lattes.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      I think you’d be surprised.  Hyundai is building up respect and momentum.  The Sonata sales are a the capacity limit and the new Accent looks to be a huge hit with it’s target market.  Hyundai is stealing more and more traffic from every dealership.  I cross shopped the LaCrosse and the Genesis and the Hyundai dealership experience was far superior.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I did. LaCrosse against Azera.

  • avatar
    jaje

    I think the brands that have to be truly scared are Acura & Lexus as their customers would more likely cross shop Hyundai’s luxury cars than the normal Buick customer (Regal aside).

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      We have plenty of luxury brand drivers coming in to sniff around the Sonata. They love the exterior style, but I think the interior is cheaper than they are used to and the 4 cylinder driving experience isn’t what they want. The Genesis being RWD only turns off a lot of people, so the Azera could be a good car for these people.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      Acura and Lexus have nothing to worry about.  They score higher in Consumer Reports than every Detroit brand.  Detroit, who has been raising prices for a bunch of less than average cars has the real problem.  I just saw Motor Trend ranked the Taurus last in a test against Toyota and Hyundai.  That is a problem.  Car and Driver just ranked the Buick last against it’s Asians counterparts.  No, it is Detroit that is in serious trouble.  They are raising prices so they can feed the UAW monster, while NHTSA runs a Toyota recall hate campaign.  That is the business plan for Detroit.  Hyundai will spoil that business plan.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      It was the same problem that Infiniti had with their previous generation of cars – great looking RWD with good engines but the interiors weren’t up to snuff.  Infiniti has been addressing this problem and I’m sure Hyundai will do it also.  I have been in a v8 Genesis and it is quite a good car.
       
      As for that statement that people who make their sole decision based on reading consume reports – don’t put any stock in that.  People who make their decision solely on a magazine article are few and far between (and not very smart if that is what makes their main decision criteria).  Print / Reviews are mostly suspect in and of itself as these media outlets rely on advertising to survive.  Now, if you want to really evaluate how well a car brand’s perception of quality / demand look into the resale value that the free market wants to pay for them. That gives you the best picture.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Those are the nicest vestigial fins I’ve seen since the Cadillac Fleetwood and DeVille of the 80s to early 90s.
     
    Anybody want to take bets on any automaker bringing back the fin for real?

  • avatar
    mike978

    It may work but Hyundai seem to be splitting the market into ever smaller niches. Most manufacturers have one car above their mid size. Hundai will have 3. Even manufacturers that have a luxury (or premium) brand like Cadillac (XTS), Acura (RL), BMW (7 series) only go one above the mid size equivalent from within their own empire.

    Maybe it will work but are $5000 increments really sufficeint.

    Also the point someone raised about the Regal and LaCross starting at $26K. That is only for this year since the Regal was/is imported from Germany and in top CXL spec. Next year there will be a lower spec and that will obvioulsy be less than $26K and now LaCrosse is increasing with the mild hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Buick shouldn’t have base, cloth interior trims. Are we going to have a $23k Regal? That puts it right into Malibu/Impala territory.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I agree with you that Buick’s shouldn`t have cloth but I suppose the thinking is give people a choice and there is always Cadillac. Also there is more than just leather that makes a car’s interior nice and upscale. Dashboard plastics, style etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      But dwford’s larger point is what’s to distinguish an Chevy from a Buick from a Cadillac when your inside them and they’re all available with similar levels of interior depending on the option package selected?

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      I think Buick anc Cadillac could exist side by side in a similar price range, differentiated by FWD vs RWD. Buick needs to be far enough above Chevy to avoid the comparison. Look at Hyundai’s price ladder. Each car tops out where the next one starts, with very little overlap.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Dan, I see you rpoint, but to some extent that is true now because you can buy a Malibu LTZ which has leather. What differentiates that from a Cadillac CTS? More than the leather – the style, plastic quality, headliner, etc etc.

    If people are utilitarian and think leather equals quality then the Equus will easily outsell the 7, A8 and S-class. Of course for some people (if not most) it takes more than that to make a car truly deserving in its class.

    • 0 avatar
      Pahaska

      Having owned both a last generation Azera and a similar generation Buick, I would opt for the Azera.  A big factor was build quality; the Buick had a lot of niggling problems while the Azera had just one minor problem under warrenty in a similar number of miles.  The Azera, while certainly no sports car, rode and handled quite well.  My good experience with the Azera is why I now drive a Genesis which has been absolutely trouble-free through the first 18,000 miles.
      I think the new Azera will be a real winner.  It is obviously a good looking car and, I am sure, will have the same great build quality as my last two Hyundais.

  • avatar
    Pahaska

    The Hyundai dealership where I bought the Genesis has changed ownership.  When I visited for an oil change last week, the whole place had been spiffied up and the service was excellent.  By virtue of owning a Genesis, I always get a free wash.
    I was surprised, though, when I wandered the showroom while waiting and no salesman accosted me.  Had I come in through the front door, I’m sure that I would have been greeted.


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