Will the Hyundai Azera Make It To ’16?

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What changes will make it different?

There are strong rumors that the model-year 2015 Azera will be the swansong for the nameplate, forced out by other brands in the company’s ever-expanding range of high-quality vehicles. If it does survive into model-year ’16, it is likely to be a carryover while the automaker further considers its future.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

If it is indeed on the way out, there could be some great deals that might be worth waiting for. But if you’re in the market right now and the this family sedan fits your bill, there doesn’t seem to be much point in waiting for the next model year.

Should I buy a 2015 instead?

This is one of the best-kept secrets in the U.S. auto market, with even Mike O’Brien, the company’s vice president of corporate and product planning, describing it as the “nicest car nobody knows about.” This nameplate used to be the flagship of the range but now finds itself situated between the company’s Sonata and the Genesis, which is why its future is hazy. Few cars in its class offer the same levels of comfort, quality and standard equipment as the model-year 2015 Azera. But the starting MSRP of the model-year ’15 Sonata ($21,150) can make the Azera seem a bit expensive.

Will the styling be different?

Hyundai isn’t afraid to change things around faster than we would expect, but the redesign of the model-year 2015 car will probably be modest, given that the brand’s very existence is in question. If the model-year ’15 version proves popular and sales improve, it could mean a stay of execution, but that’s about the most that can be said right now. The model-year 2015 offering has a toned-down, conservative look, which could be a trend for the automaker.

Any mechanical changes?

We can’t totally discount the idea that Hyundai might do something off-the-wall and take the Azera in a radically different direction than the Sonata and Genesis, but again, we’re not holding our breath. Although the vehicle will probably survive in other markets for a while, we have a hard time imagining any major updates being made to it in the U.S. market for however long it remains on sale.

Will fuel economy improve?

A diesel model is being added to the range for some markets, but it’s unlikely that we will see it in the United States. However, there has been some retuning of the car’s existing gasoline power plant, which will result in improved fuel economy when the model-year ’15 version comes out in the fall of 2014. With this development coming right now, it’s unlikely there will be further fine-tuning for model-year ’16.

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Will it have new features?

The model-year 2015 Azera is following the current trend amongst manufacturers of providing much more equipment for only a small increase in money, so don’t expect to see even more goodies in model-year ’16. The model-year 2015 car features an eight-inch navigation screen as standard and a new center console as part of a number of interior enhancements.

How will 2016 prices be different?

If things do go as expected, there could be some great deals as the brand comes to the end of its production run. But these savings could be on ’15 models, as it’s a long way from certain that there will even be a product for model-year 2016. Even if the Azera does carry on, it’s rare for manufacturers to raise prices significantly these days, so the MSRP of the car would probably remain stable, or even fall, as time goes on.

What Is the Expected Release Date?

The 2015 model isn’t hitting showrooms until the fall of ’14, so if there is a model-year 2016 version, it won’t arrive until the end of ’15.

Best competitors

Ford Taurus, Lexus ES350, Toyota Avalon, Buick Lacrosse, Acura TL

What change would make it better?

The Azera would have to undergo a radical transformation to reinvent itself. The Sonata and the Genesis are so good and so popular that they are taking more customers away from the Azera than are rival manufacturers. Hyundai could go significantly upscale with this model and put it back as a flagship brand, with the twist of it being a hybrid-only offering. In reality, though, there seems to be little chance that the automaker will invest heavily in its future.

Quick hit

The previous generation of the Azera was a bold and successful move by Hyundai, and its sharp styling won over many buyers. The latest incarnation has gone in an entirely the opposite direction, with a more toned-down, conservative look, though it did still gain plenty of critical acclaim. However, the Sonata offers pretty much everything the Azera can muster, but in a more current package and for about $10,000 less. It’s rare that a car succumbs to intense competition from within the same company, but that seems to be what’s happening here.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]