The 2013 Hyundai Azera sedan is the second generation with an all new design for this year. It’s exterior and interior impress with an artistic style while its powertrain brings new refinement to the Hyundai name.

The Azera is a large front-wheel drive sedan which compares well with the Chevrolet Impala, Buick LaCrosse, and Toyota Avalon just to name a few. Hyundai has really upped its game with the latest Azera adding new features, lofty options and a definitive styling statement.

To start with, the Azera rides on the same chassis as the Kia Cadenza, a car we just reviewed last month and awarded five stars. And while its mechanical bits are identical to the Cadenza, the Azera is a completely different car inside and out.

Hyundai and Kia while the same company at home in Korea, are two distinctive brands. They do the best of any automaker to keep their cars look, feel, features and personality separate.

In fact, if Ford and Lincoln did this good a job at keeping their designs unique and captivating for each of their brands, we probably wouldn’t wonder if Lincoln has a long term future or not.

And no place makes Hyundai’s commitment to design more apparent than the interior. Everywhere you look there is detail and pride. From the way the console curves up into the dash, and the way colors interplay to impress, you can tell the people who designed this car really cared.

I really like the off-black camel colored dash and light contrasting leather treatment. It gives the feel of a top quality briefcase or handbag. The switchgear all around is designed with jewel like precision and really comes off well thought out.

Part of the Technology Package there’s a soft lavender LED highlight glow at night which gives the cabin a nice aura. It’s just enough to make you smile, but not over the top.

Another home run is the infotainment and center stack controls. They’re so easy to pick up and start using. HVAC and stereo station changes are fast and easy to learn. There’s a large center knob for both the stereo volume and fan speed. Touch them for power on and off. Simple.

It’s amazing other luxury automakers haven’t figured out the secret to designing these driver interaction systems so well. This is still feature packed like the rest, with full touch screen capability. The difference is it doesn’t make you mad and frustrated behind the wheel. It just works.

The only area of the interior I found a let down was some of the finishes, notably the center console. It has a faux brushed aluminum finish that looks like it belongs on a TV remote. The panels feel cheap and flimsy and it appears the finish won’t wear very well, showing every little mark.

I did like the panoramic roof however which has a power shade front and rear. It really opens up the interior and gives this car a light airy appeal.

On the road, the Azera is supple. The ride is right in the sweet spot where you will find brands like Buick and Toyota. It’s not rough nor floaty, but right in the middle somewhere. Steering is a bit vague on center, but the chassis does respond tightly to steering commands.

The large 19” wheels on our tester which were part of the Technology Package had lower profile 40 series tires, and the good news is they didn’t seem to lessen the ride quality like many larger wheel combos do.

They do look great after all, anchoring the style of the Azera well. Looking across its flanks is easy on the eyes no matter which angle you approach it from. It goes to show you can’t go wrong with hiring the best designers and simply stay out of their way.

The 3.3 liter direct-injected V6 is also impressive in its power. With 293 horses and 255 lb-ft of torque, it provides just enough power for the large Azera. The six-speed automatic transmission delivers the power smoothy and with a refined manner that’s leaps and bounds from Hyundai vehicles of ten years ago.

Fuel efficiency wasn’t a strong suit however. The Azera is rated at 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. In our testing with the Azera, the best we could achieve was an average of 20.5 mpg combined, a good bit below the EPA estimate despite our light footed hyper-miling approach.

All said, the 2013 Hyundai Azera delivers a beautiful and artistic way to drive that is refined and enjoyable behind the wheel. The many well executed details inside and out well outweigh the few we quibbled about.

For a full report and photo gallery see