In a release yesterday detailing the company’s 2018 lineup, Hyundai confirmed that U.S. market availability of the Hyundai Azera will be discontinued.
But have no fear, dear lover of affordable large sedans. The 2017 Hyundai Azera is not yet thin on the ground.
Roughly 1,000 Azeras are currently sitting on dealer lots across the United States, enough — at the Azera’s recent sales pace — to last until mid-fall.
The Azera doesn’t deserve to meet such a tragic end, but its demise is one we knew about long before Hyundai’s official announcement on July 5, 2017. U.S. sales plunged 82 percent over the last decade.
Hyundai, meanwhile, forced the Canadian end of the Azera at the end of the previous generation’s run in 2009, coinciding with the launch of the first-generation Hyundai Genesis sedan. Canadian sales had fallen by nearly two-thirds between 2006 and 2008.
Known in a handful of other markets as the Hyundai Grandeur, the Azera and its predecessors were certainly not short on delusions of grandeur. But it wasn’t until the third-generation car, known initially in North America as the XG300 (and then XG350) that Hyundai Motor America attempted to carve out a premium image on this side of the Pacific.
The fourth-generation car, and the first known as the Azera, was a major leap forward in terms of power, refinement, and design, though it was guilty of being indistinguishable from the concurrent Sonata.
Far more expressive styling appeared in 2012 on the fifth-generation car, the third to make it to America. But the Azera’s positioning was already confused by the appearance of Hyundai’s rear-wheel-drive luxury car, the Genesis. The Genesis wasn’t worryingly more costly than the front-wheel-drive, Avalon-rivalling Azera, which was roughly $33,000 in 2012.
2013 sales of the Azera rose to a five-year high of 11,221 units, but that was well below the total achieved in 2008, when the economy began to tank, and less than half the Azera’s 2007 achievement. The Azera’s situation only became more challenging as the current model aged, with sales sliding 36 percent in its second full year, 23 percent in 2015, and 11 percent in 2016. This slide came after former Hyundai Motor America boss and then sales chief, Dave Zuchowski, said the new Azera could sell between 18,000 to 20,000 copies per year. It didn’t.
Not helping matters was the arrival of a platform-mate, the Kia Cadenza, which sold 24-percent more often than the Azera over the last three and a half years.
Yet the Kia Cadenza, like the Hyundai Azera and numerous other full-size, volume-brand cars, hold scarcely any attraction to the crossover-buying masses in 2017. Year-over-year, segment-wide sales are down 18 percent thanks to harsh declines from the Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Avalon, and yes, the Hyundai Azera.
The 2017 Hyundai Azera is powered by a 293-horsepower 3.3-liter V6. Pricing starts at $34,100, but the Azera Limited is priced from $39,300. Top-spec Limiteds make up the lion’s share of current Azera inventory. Nearly one-fifth of Hyundai’s U.S. Azera stock is priced above $40,000 according to Cars.com inventory.
The Genesis G80, formerly known as a Hyundai Genesis, starts at $42,725 with fees. Year-to-date, the G80 has outsold the Azera by more than four to one.