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Hyundai offers a price break to buyers of the 2014 Azera

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For the 2014 model year, Hyundai has split the Azera in two. Not actually, of course, but by model lines. The South Korean manufacturer's premier front-wheel-drive sedan is now offered at two price points.

An entry-level Azera now starts at $31,000, a decrease of $1,250 from the 2013 model base price. A new, higher content Hyundai Azera Limited now starts at$34,750.

Asked what prompted the change, Derek Joyce, product public relations manager, explained, "We are always looking at repackaging to meet the needs of as many buyers as possible … (to find) a balance between price and volume."

Of course, It's no secret that sales of Hyundai's premium front-wheel-drive sedan have been dragging, with 2,118 sedans purchased from Jan.1 through the end of March. That's a drop of 21 percent from the same period in 2014.

Lori Scholz, public relations manager, said the major reason for a drop in sales is that "The Azera is between the Sonata and the Genesis. Right now, the Genesis and the upcoming new Sonata are getting more marketing attention."

The good news for potential buyers of the 2014 Hyundai Azera is that the base Azera is by no means base. It comes equipped with leather upholstery; 8-way power driver's seat with two-way power lumbar adjustment; 60/40 fold-down rear seat,; climate control; tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio, cruise and Bluetooth telephone controls; 6-inch color LCD audio display for the 6-speaker sound system; 18-inch wheels and tires; 3 years of Hyundai's Assurance Connectrd Care service; and more.

The Limited adds a navigation system, electroluminescent gauge cluster with a color trip computer, 10-way power driver's seat, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power folding side mirrors, and HID Xenon headlights.

And, of course, there are options. The Azera Limited I drove had the $2,150 Premium Package, which consists of 19-inch alloy wheels, panoramic tilt-and-slide sunroof, power rear sunshade, manual rear side-window sunshades and a rear parking assistance system.

Add $110 for carpeted floor mats and an $895 delivery charge and the total comes to $37,905.

Mechanically, the two models are identical, with 3.3-liter V-6 engines producing 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, 6-speed automatic transmissions , and all-wheel independent suspensions.

Of importance to anyone who has driven a previous model, the Azera power steering has been upgraded to give the driver more precise control and a better sense of what is happening down where the tires meet the road.

Hyundai considers its main competition to be the Acura TL, Buick LaCrosse, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon. It should also be noted that it goes up against its fraternal twin, the Kia Cadenza.

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