It’s amazing to see how far Hyundai has come in the entry-luxury arena in just over 10 years. Those with selective retention may or may not (depending on whether or not you actually bought one) recall Hyundai’s first shot at a near-luxury car for North America—the 2001 Hyundai XG300
That car had all the right ingredients — blended precisely the wrong way.
The XG offered styling cues from a luxury car, a very generous offering of standard equipment, a V6 engine, and was priced to undercut Maxima, Camry and Accord—while simultaneously offering more luxury features than those perennial front-runners in the mid-size sedan marketplace. And, it was all wrapped in the quirkiest example of quirky Korean styling to ever besot this continent. Further, its Hyundai nameplate didn’t do a lot to convince Toyota, Honda and Nissan buyers to abandon their tried and true marques.
Still, for a company struggling to get its footing in a new segment of the marketplace, the XG300 was a baby step in the right direction for Hyundai.
When the XG300 (by then XG350, thanks to a displacement increase) played out in 2005, that baby step was replaced by a confident stride, the 2006 Hyundai Azera. More spacious, more luxurious and infinitely better looking than the XG models, Azera made everybody sit up and take notice of Hyundai. For the first time, Hyundai finally got a solid grasp on the near luxury sedan.
For 2012, the company introduced the second generation of the lovely sedan, and if you thought the first one was nice, wait’ll you get a load of this one.