People invest in themselves, but it’s not just something we do – businesses do it, too, especially car companies. In recent years, both Subaru and Volkswagen have tried to reposition their brands as upscale alternatives to the status quo.
Now the new kids on the block, the Koreans, are having a go at upward mobility. Kia started the trend a few years back with the Amanti, and now, for 2006, Hyundai is taking a shot at the entry-luxury market with the all-new Azera, a stylish flagship sedan that marks the demise of the generic XG350. Prices for the Azera start at about $25,000 for a cloth-clad model, though Hyundai executives claim that a fully-loaded Azera won’t break the $30,000 threshold, and that’s with a 263-horsepower V6 and a healthy list of amenities and safety equipment, not to mention the heralded 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
But are buyers interested in a Hyundai that can teeter on $30,000? As far as the company has come in recent years with models like the redesigned Sonata sedan and the Tucson SUV, only time will tell if shoppers are willing to lump luxury and Hyundai together, especially in the face of stiff competition in a crowded segment. Based on a brief drive, we’d say that Hyundai has put together a great first attempt, albeit one that needs a few more minutes in the oven before being offered to finicky customers.