Naming In The News

What's in a Name? Hyundai dubs new 2006 flagship Azera

by Bob Gritzinger, AutoWeek Online
04/04/05

Get past the new name and get a look at Hyundai's XG350 replacement, the 2006 Azera, for yet another surprise from the Korean automaker.

Hyundai says its Azera unveiled at the New York show boasts a huge interior ("more interior room than the BMW 760i and Mercedes-Benz S-Class"), a 3.8-liter 265-hp V6 engine with "more standard horsepower than the Ford Five Hundred and the Buick LaCrosse," and a slew of luxury amenities, many of which were lacking on Hyundai's previous flagship sedan. Compared with the 2005 XG350, the Azera is longer, wider, and rides on a wheelbase that is 1.1 inches longer.

Hyundai also revealed a redesigned 2006 Accent sedan at New York. The third-generation model features a higher seating position and is longer, wider, and three inches taller than the outgoing model. The car also gets a new 1.6-liter 110-hp four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing.

Hyundai picked the Azera name for its XG350 replacement for several reasons, the most sensible of which is the company considers this an all-new vehicle. (They also mentioned things like "the era of A to Z" and that Azera evokes the French word azure or blue, as in the color of blue skies in Hyundai's optimistic view of the future. Whatever.)

Regardless of the name, the Azera due in dealerships this fall should provide a substantial value, especially if pricing holds in the $25,000-to-$30,000 range. Don't look for stickers to rise past the $30K mark, because as one company official said, "We're not sure the market is ready for a $30,000 Hyundai." "Azera will earn distinction for segment-leading standard safety features, refined styling, and content that is generally reserved for higher-priced luxury sedans," assured Robert F. Cosmai, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. Don't be surprised if Azera delivers on Cosmai's promise.