By on July 17, 2014

2012azera-550x412

It’s hard out here for a full-size car. Sales are declining on a consistent basis, as crossovers and falling demand for V6 and V8 non-premium sedans eats into the once-proud full-size segment. Talk of Ford killing off the Taurus seems to float around, while at least half of all sales in the broader segment seem to go to fleets. Market forces might claim their next victim in the form of the Hyundai Azera.

Autoblog reports that even Hyundai execs are open-ended about the car’s future prospects in America. While the Azera is a hit in its home market of South Korea, sales are declining in the United States, and lagging behind key rivals.

While Hyundai claims that there is a place for the Azera between the Sonata and Genesis, industry analysts we spoke to (on condition of anonymity, due to the proprietary data being shared) shows that among sedan buyers, take rates for V6 engines across the mid-size segment is continuously falling. The near-term trend is said to be the eventual phasing out of the V6, similar to what Hyundai already did with the Sonata. Right now, one of the key selling points for the Azera over the Sonata seems to be the V6 engine, but if that’s no longer a factor, then that further weakens the business case for importing them from South Korea.

If that weren’t enough, the Sonata is dimensionally identical to the Azera, while boasting better fuel economy. And buyers can also be pushed towards the V6 powered Santa Fe, which can meet their space and power needs while also boasting all-wheel drive and the possibility of more cargo and passenger capacity.

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65 Comments on “Hyundai Azera May Be Full-Size Segment’s Next Victim...”


  • avatar
    tonycd

    Haven’t driven this generation of the Azera. Drove a couple different examples of the previous generation, which I know is considered strictly an old man’s car but which I found so endearing I seriously considered buying one. A central part of the car’s appeal to me was the growl, and the low-RPM punch, of its V6 engine (although they downsized from the 3.8 to the 3.3 on this generation).

    Did check out the current-gen Azera at the auto show. Really nice interior, especially the surprisingly plush and expensive-feeling seat leather. Only irritant was the head restraint, which jutted very uncomfortably into the back of my head. It was bad enough to be a deal-breaker — if I was going to buy one, I would see whether I could source the previous-gen Azera’s headrest and whether it would fit. My limited understanding is that the federal whiplash-protection standards got tougher a few years ago, leaving carmakers with the choice of either paying extra to include an active head restraint or having a stationary one jut into your head. One guess which option most automakers chose.

    • 0 avatar
      NotFast

      I’ve felt or read about a number of new cars where the headrest sticks way too far forward. Any idea why – safety? More back seat room?

      I would avoid any car that forces me to sit a certain, uncomfortable way.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY.

        Just find a gallery of Ford Panther platform cars and watch the way the front seats and headrests get changed from late 90s to the end of production.

      • 0 avatar
        Waterview

        Two more examples from my recent dealership visits: Kia K900 and the Cadillac XTS. I first thought I was sitting incorrectly and then realized they can’t be adjusted forward and aft. Not comfortable at all.

        One question for the rest of the class: if the Azera is “full size”, then what is the Genesis? Moreso, what is the Equus? Or are they all full-size, but simply different price points?

        Thanks.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I was going to raise a similar question because both “full size” and “mid size” are being thrown around in the article. In my view the Azera is mid-size at best.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          That’s the real problem for the Azera – it’s getting squeezed too tight between high-end Sonatas and low-end Geneses. I think the new Genesis is trying to move up-market though, while the Sonata goes the other way, which should allow the Azera some breathing room.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Azera competes in the full-size, upscale FWD segment with the Impala, Taurus, Avalon, etc. (tho, the sloping roofline limits interior room).

          The Genesis is a RWD midsize luxury (albeit on the larger end) and the Equus is a RWD full-size luxury.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          The distinction between the Azera & Genesis is fwd vs rwd.

          Of course, this distinction will be less significant given that many more of the Genesis’ sold in the future will be AWD, and the Sonata has grown to the size where there’s little difference between it and the Azera.

          The Azera is getting squeezed from both the higher end Genesis and the lower end Sonata, and increasingly straddles no man’s land in Hyundai’s lineup.

          It doesn’t help that the Azera is close in price to the higher end Genesis. 32k to 38k is rich territory to the Azera to occupy given the excellent competition (whether Avalon, Impala or 300, the last of which can ne had for close to 25k new with leather & many features even in base configurationS.

          • 0 avatar
            TorontoSkeptic

            Exactly. This is pretty much the same logic that comes up in every Nissan Maxima discussion. Just insert “Altima” for “Sonata”, “Maxima” for “Azera” and “Infiniti” for “Genesis.”

            It’s too bad these full-size might die out… some of us have kids and don’t want a CR-V/Sportage/RAV4, but need a bit of space.

          • 0 avatar
            Eiriksmal

            @TorontoSkeptic: Ha! I was thinking the exact same thing, actually. Nearly identical terms are being bandied about in these comments that were used just a few weeks ago when talking about the latest Altima/Maxima stuff.

            In my biased opinion, the Maxima suffers from even more “squeeze” since the G37/Q50 is such a phenomenal vehicle for a scan premium on the Maxima’s price.* Compared to a Genesis that’s… Er, a good start for Hyundai to expand into that segment over here.

            2014 Maximas with leather start at $34,380. Highest trim level starts at $37,230. 2014 Q50 starts at $37,150. Highest trim level starts at $45,450. Of course, for a few more months, a new 2013/2014/whatever it is G37 starts a shade under $33,000!

          • 0 avatar
            bomberpete

            The problem is that car companies think about these nameplates the same way that retailers did in the Nineties. Example: a Starbucks next door to a Barnes & Noble whose busy cafe sells….Starbucks.

            It didn’t help those companies and their business models. Now Hyundai, Nissan/Infinit, etc. are replicating themselves like mutants in this category. It’s confusing and benefits no one.

            While I loved my old ’89 Maxima, what’s the point anymore? It’s a heavy beast that overpowers the FWD platform, plus it’s barely cheaper in real-world terms than a leased Q50.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            The Infinity Q50 is an epic failure of a car given its price point, and if it’s setting the direction of Infinity’s future, is an ominous, foreboding sign for the marque.

            Infinity would be MILES ahead to cancel the Q50 since the M35/M45 are such superior cars for those with more luxo-sport tastes, and the G37 is such a superior vehicle for those with more sporting inclinations.

            I’ve never been a fan of NissanInfinity since they quit making cars like the 1990 Maxims, but even with that said, I came close to buying a M35 because it’s a solid car with some distinction in a sea full of Lexus blahness and a parade of complete Acura failures.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I wish you were around wherever it was last week that I was posting about the M being distinctive, as I was quickly crucified when I said so.

    • 0 avatar
      JCraig

      Most Hyundais come with active head restraint and the head rests adjust forward and back. But even all the way back it’s too far forward for perfect comfort.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      The headrest is very comfortable. It ratchets back and forth in multiple positions. It was probably at the foremost position when you sat inside.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    With full-sizers on the decline, I’m a bit baffled why Chevy put so much effort into a very nice all-new Impala that’s always going to be too big and expensive to compete properly with Camcord, et al. (and never sell in the numbers it once did when most of them were going to fleets), while it totally PHONED IT IN with the mediocre-in-every-way Malibu.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      To try to see if it was possible to get people to buy Impalas instead of Malibus.

      I’ll agree though that the Impala is finally a serious competitor for cars like the Toyota Avalon.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I was wondering the same thing about the Impala. It seems like it’s a cynical attempt to capture buyers turned off by the Malibu, but not ready for a CUV.

      The Azera’s a pretty car. I’ve been chauffered around Seoul in a few of them, and they’re pleasant. Were I in the market for a people hauler, it’s probably one of the first cars I’d check out.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Keep in mind that the Malibu’s development was already mostly done when GM underwent bankruptcy proceedings (which also delayed its launch).

      Still, that’s no excuse for the brain-dead decision to base it on a smaller platform.

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      Philadlj, How about this to explain the new Impala: As of June 2014, the Impala (both versions, I suppose) have sold over 78,000 units, compared with 35,000 Ford Taureses and 32,000 Toyota Avalons. So, the market for big cars may be shrinking, but if one model can claim a big percentage of it, then you build that product. I think it’s also fair to say that here in the US, most folks expect that a large car from GM is it’s traditional strong-suit and would be willing to consider it more than a smaller or mid-size (Cruze or Malibu) against the competition.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        The market for full-sizers is there. But as always, it’s about product.
        The reason for the “full-size is dying” meme is that too few car makers understand this.

        Impala is one of just a few designs — the Avalon and 300 being the others — that define the full-size market. They are either well-differentiated or superior to their mid-sized siblings.

        Look at Ford stumbling around with Taurus/MKS. These two are an old, inefficient design w/meager sales. The Fusion runs circles around them. Toyota had the same problem with Avalon a few years ago. Sales were in the tank. The current design is distinguished enough from Camry to be noticeable, and sales are better.

        My only complaint is the ridiculous space inefficiency. They’re a good fleet option. That’s why I wish a manufacturer would offer some kind of bench seat option. Instead of the traditional American setup, it could be like those three-seat pods that European vans with a dash-mounted shifter have. It would allow the occasional sixth to fit, and all would be right with the world.

  • avatar
    mars3941

    I have admired this car ever since I first saw it. I know it doesn’t sell well in the States but it is an excellent vehicle for anyone wanting more car than a Sonata, Camry or Fusion. but not as large as a Impala or a Taurus that are now considered full size cars. I personally prefer a V6 over a 4 cylinder turbo or non turbo. This car meets all my requirements in todays vehicle.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I guess that means that the Cadenza will also go away?

  • avatar

    I took my female friend to buy an Azera.
    The Azera – often called a “super Sonata – is a good car because it takes a strong V6, a lovely interior and an excellent technology suite – superior to the 1st generation Genesis – and gives you a fully loaded, attractive “psuedo luxury ride” for just $37,000.

    -Panoramic roof
    -Heated/Cooled front seats
    -Heated rear seats
    -power rear sunshade
    -Touchscreen Navigation
    -V6 engine
    -rearview camera

    And numerous other features.

    The only thing I felt was mising which would have made it PERFECT was optional AWD – which the V6 could have handled.

    In fact – a car like the Azera, I WOULD RATHER TAKE for $37,000 – than the Tesla Model III….or… and it hurts me to say this…the Chrysler 200.

    Though the 200′s tech suite and looks are better, the Azera is far superior in interior space.

    NOW that the 2015 Sonata is so much bigger, there’s no point to the “super Sonata” anymore. The 2015′s interior, exterior and tech updates make it a very good car and a soon-to-be-major-competitor for the Toyota Camry.

    The 2015 Sonata has more rear space and headroom than my 300SRT.

    That’s amazing.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I like the Azera. Unlike the Taurus, it’s not a poorly-executed vehicle, but it does suffer from having a lower-priced sibling (the Sonata) that does everything right. So it makes sense. Still, the Azera has a few features you can’t find on the Sonata, such as a V6 engine (albeit not very big) and a power-adjustible steering column…

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      Strong V6? Hardly. I rented one for a few days recently, and its gutless performance had me scratching my head wondering if Hyundai had, unbeknownst to me, started making a four-cylinder Azera.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      The Azera is pretty amazing. A tad small for a full-sized car, probably due to it’s KDM origins – it’s even built in Korea, but it really is nice for the money. Also, that $37k BTSR mentions is before incentives. You can get one without the panoramic sunroof and adjustable seat bolsters for around $32k after incentives.

      • 0 avatar

        Tuffjuff

        I forgot to mention the powered thigh supports.

        The only thing none of them had which I expected them to was powered up/down head rests.

        • 0 avatar
          tuffjuff

          @BTSR

          How you doin’, buddy?

          While we’re on the topic of luxury Hyundais, I hope they apply the Genesis effect to the Equus. I literally love the Genesis, but it’s probably a tad small for my liking (the Azera was somewhat tight, and the Genesis is a mid-sizer). Not that I’d ever be in the market for an Equus. And frankly, if I were in the kind of position you are, BTSR, I’d probably have to go with an XJ, too.

  • avatar
    50merc

    What full size cars? Lowness and aerodynamics have killed off the truly roomy sedan, leaving only SUVs, CUVs and trucks offering the luxury of interior spaciousness. Go sit in a 1938 Buick, Hudson or Chrysler to experience true roominess. Don’t forget to try the back seat.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Exactly, Manufacturers need to have a ruler ready when building large cars, keep me a foot away from every other than the floor and seat, I don’t want my head an inch from the ceiling and I don’t want to be unable to spread out,

    • 0 avatar

      Well how much more room do you need than an Azera, Charger, Genesis or 2015 Sonata?

      The only cars I’ve found bigger are the German big bodies: S-class, A8 and 7-Series.

      Or the $300,000+ Rolls Royces/ Maybachs, etc.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    I’d kill it too. Given that CUVs in the $30-$40K range are cutting into the sedan market, suddenly the gap between a loaded Sonata and base Genesis doesn’t seem all that great to me.

    Furthermore, the latter is a genuinely well-conceived luxury car. With the right marketing push, it could really entice buyers who are not enamored of the German and Japanese sporty stuff.

    Just one opinion.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Pricing is getting too high.
    Manufacturers are more and more building expensive compacts, which means a bump in price in midsize to keep them seperated, which pushes full size costs high as well.

    Either hit low or hit high.
    ie,
    w-body cheapness with bench seats in the front an a cheap OHV V6.
    Or
    Go all out, ala Chevy SS style

    But doing it half way with a high price doesn’t show much enthusiasm.

    I would love the impala body on the SS architecture.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Doubt the Azera will leave the US market, but Hyundai can do a no. of things to improve sales.

    Add the hybrid model ASAP; hybrids in this segment are popular and the hybrid Azera has been on sale in Korea for some time (can also add the diesel model).

    For the next gen model, do away with the sharply sloping roof-line which limits headroom and impedes rear entry. This is one reason why the Cadenza, despite its higher price-point and Kia’s lower brand image outsells the Azera (Hyundai toned down the roofline in the new Sonata for the very same reasons).

    In this segment, while styling is nice – interior/passenger room is more important.

    Another possibility is replacing the Azera in the US market with the AG – a larger, more luxurious FWD sedan that would be a direct competitor to the ES.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      90% of the late-model Avalons that I see are hybrid models, so that market seems like it needs another contender. Our first lady just got a 2014 Avalon Hybrid (and the pastor drives a CNG-converted 2011 Silverado LS regular cab with no power options; very down-to-earth people). As far as Kia and Hyundai hybrids go, everyone that I know who has a Sonata or Optima Hybrid swears by it, so it seems like they have some very happy hybrid customers who’d possibly be willing to upgrade.

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      The Hybrid Grandeur exists in South Korea. I’ve only seen a handful since they hit the market and the Grandeur is a huge seller here. Most are equipped with the 3.0L V6.

      I’m not sure there’s a business case for sending them to states in the Azera guise unless full size car sales stop contracting.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Toyota sold 2,500 of the hybrid versions of the Avalon and ES last month and Ford sold more hybrid MKZs than Hyundai did the Azera.

        Availability of a hybrid Azera should push sales over the 1k mark.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Have not driven the new Azera (drove the previous generation and found it quite…acceptable but generally a ball of meh) but seen them in the wild. They are absolutely gorgeous in white.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Full sized cars look like slightly swollen versions of a nondescript Japanese mid-size car. Since they have all taken away the bench seat, it can seat only five, so why bother?

    Can only seat five, and has no American style anymore.

    I have no interest in replacing my Grand Marquis as no one makes anything that interests me much anymore. I’d be interested in something big, smooth, and simple, but it doesn’t exist anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      Panther Platform

      Big, smooth, and simple are the essence of Panther Platforms. I drive a little car to work, which makes me appreciate my Grand Marquis even more on trips and the weekend. I can appreciate more modern and “refined” cars, but when I sit in them I feel cramped.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I don’t understand why a Korean sedan needs American style.

      But then again Panther buffs have truly eccentric/stubborn ideas on what they want in a car.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    A family member of mine has a fully loaded Azera with the tech package and it is a great car, especially for the price, I have driven it many times. It has a strong V6, looks great inside and out, very premium. The Nappa leather is excellent, infotainment works well, backup camera, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, window shades on the rear doors and rear window and a panoramic roof with a proper shade that does not let light and heat through.It is also very quiet and solid feeling. Tons of rear legroom and also gets about 30 mpg on the highway, not bad.

    If they made some of the lower plastics inside just a little nicer, had wood inside of the car as an option, not just the fake, albeit nice looking, carbon fiber and made the ride a little softer and less jarring over bumps it would be almost perfect.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The problem with almost every Hyundai is that their suspension is worst in class. I am perplexed by their seeming inability to be able to design/fabricate more competitive suspensions, whether in their low end or high end vehicles.

      I have a friend who dumped a 2010 Genesis for a 2013 Chrysler 300, getting murdered on the resale value of the Hyundai in the process, but has zero regrets because, as he puts it, “the 300 drives like a S Class compared to the Genesis, especially over less than ideal pavement.”

      • 0 avatar
        VenomV12

        It is weird, it is like they obsessed over every detail, made a great car and then forgot about the suspension in the Azera. I still have to test drive the new Genesis and Sonata to see if they have remedied this. The new Genesis looks especially promising, if they have solved the suspension issues then they have a winner.

        On the same note, Lexus made the suspension of the new ES worse. The ES used to be a nice smooth ride and now it is much less so. To me you buy a Lexus for that soft ride and that is a step in the wrong direction. I wonder if that is why I see 100 RXs for every ES?

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        Lotus re-did the 2015 Genesis suspension. Both TTAC and the NY Times reviews noted that their work made noticeable improvements at making the car extremely pleasant to drive. I’m curious to see how sales go with the new model.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Suspension tuning on the 2012+ non-R-Spec Genesis models are much better and also a big part of the problem on the pre-2012s were the horrible OEM Dunlop tires.

        As for the new Genesis, nothing but kudos for the ride.

        The interesting thing is that recently, Kia has gotten the better reviews for the ride in their recent products.

        For instance, the Cadenza (next to the Impala) has gotten the most praise for its ride in the segment.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    Hyundai’s not going to “kill” the Azera/Grandeur any time soon. Not while it perennially swaps the number one spot on the KDM sales list with the Sonata.

    No longer offer it in the US? That’s another question.

    If TTAC wants to cover global car news, then when it presents news and rumors like this, it should specify that it’s for the American market (or clarify in the first sentence) without the reader having to piece it together. (That’s what editors are for.)

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      The (closely related) Cadenza seems to make more sense in the Kia lineup than the Azera does in the Hyundai lineup. I’ll bet it could handle all the USDM traffic on its own.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      This is a very good point. The Grandeur is one of the top selling vehicles over there, and has been since the first XG version.

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      I think that’s what they were alluding to that it would be discontinued in America, not all together. I live in South Korea and yes, the Grandeur is everywhere but it is also positioned as a different car here. It has a lot more options inside and out and comes off as a Lexus ES / Buick LaCrosse (Alpheon) competitor in South Korea vs in its Azera guise, it’s a Taurus and Avalon competitor in the USA.

      I think there’s a place for the Azera in the US market, but Hyundai needs to push it upmarket like they did in South Korea. A fully loaded Grandeur in SK is a damn good looking car with lots of tech, too.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Well, Hyundai has the new (slightly larger) and upmarket FWD AG sedan to compete against the ES and Alpheon in SK.

        It’s greater interior room would be more appealing to US buyers, but no plans to bring it to the States (also, would be priced a bit more than the Azera – so probably won’t see it unless Hyundai really wants to take a run at the ES/LaCrosse/MKZ segment.

  • avatar
    mechaman

    I’m not surprised. For Hyundai to keep making Azeras, that would be like Toyota making three Avalons. What’s the point? The Sonata fills it’s niche against Accord/Camry/Taurus, etc.. the Genesis bumps up near Avalon territory. Then there’s the Equus .. their Lincoln/Cadillac, I guess.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I’ve seen a few new Azeras on the road and it just does nothing for me. Bug-eyed headlights, inflated Sonata styling inside and out. The new Avalon on the other hand looks very sharp and provides a pretty clear visual differentiation between it and the Camry. US Sales of that car doubled in 2013, to 70K while the Azera sold 11K. I can see why its future is questioned.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      Avalon, 300 and the new Impala deliver the goods and are either well-differentiated or superior to their mid-sized siblings. That is why they currently define the FWD full-size market. If more car makers understood this, I believe the FWD full-sized market would be stronger.

      A couple of years ago before its redesign Avalon sales were in the tank. The design was old and had little differentiation from the Camry. Lesson? Sharp design, lots of room and maybe greater appeal to the livery class will help sales.

      If Ford is serious about another Taurus/MKS — I personally hope not — they would benefit from understanding this. Instead, these two are old, inefficient designs that eat into each other’s meager sales.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Seem to forget the Cadenza which has won a couple of comparison tests.

        And while the Avalon’s sheetmetal is more, shall we say, “striking” (the front end is an amalgamation of the Civic and hybrid Sonata) – the major refresh for the Camry will bring the 2 more in line.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The rear door handle design and placement on that car is truly unfortunate. It looks very busted.


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