By Joe Santos - Updated Date: 9/6/2011
With the recent revamping of the Sonata and advent of the Genesis, Hyundai has been going full-throttle to ramp up their reputation and gain more recognition from car buyers in the midsize and full-size sedan segments. But with the 2011 Hyundai Equus, the Korean carmaker is aiming even higher. Garnering the same tech-savvy features and high-luxo panache as competitors such as the BMW 7 series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS, the Equus has it all, but at lower price point. And while the Hyundai Equus is sold on the same lots as the entry-level Accent, it isn't exactly cut from the same cloth. In fact, it's hard to believe that the Equus is a Hyundai. Above all else, the service and amenities that come with the purchase of a 2011 Equus show that it's not just a value meal sprinkled with gold flake.
The 2011 Hyundai Equus is an automotive paradox. With high-end features and a bargain-basement price tag, the Equus makes all the other sedans in this segment look extravagant. Also, Equus owners enjoy Hyundai's "At your service" program, which includes free maintenance for five years/60,000 miles and free pick up at the owner's home in exchange for a loaner vehicle, meaning the owner never has to see a dealer's service bay.
While the price, services and lengthy list of features are sure to draw some attention away from its competitors, the 2011 Hyundai Equus still lacks the overall refinement and luxury-brand cachet that other in its class offer in excess.
As the most expensive Hyundai ever to be brought to the U.S., the 2011 Equus brings out the big guns to show that the company can compete on the luxury playing field. The Hyundai Equus is available in two trim levels: Signature (base model) and Ultimate (up-level trim with first-class amenities).Driving It Driving Impressions
The 2011 Hyundai Equus doesn't have the sharp driving dynamics of the BMW 7 Series or the refinement of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but it is very quiet and as pleasant to drive as one might expect from a car in this class. In fact, it's one of the quietest cabins we've experienced on longer drives. One of the main features that sets this car apart is its air suspension, which is not only responsible for the car's athletic stance, but also for its quality ride characteristics. The electronic air suspension is very comfortable on any stretch of road, no matter how pothole-ridden, and is a dream on the highway. But that doesn't mean it's soft. We found that the Equus holds the line very well in corners and is more than capable of reeling in its substantial weight on twisty roads. Steering feel is good, though not as responsive as a 7 Series, but this isn't meant to be a driver's car
Power reclining rear seats
Who wouldn't love the ability to recline in a car with your feet up and watch a movie while someone else drives? The seat massagers are a nice touch as well.
Lexicon 7.1 Discrete Logic 7 surround sound system
While 2011 Hyundai Equus'17 speakers might seem like overkill, we applaud their superb sound quality, which completes the luxurious in-cabin experience.
We have to admit that the 2011 Hyundai Equus in Ultimate trim is far more fun to be driven in than to drive, thanks to the two-person executive rear seating. Legroom and headroom is abundant for all occupants, and the leather seating surfaces and wood trim are top-notch, especially considering the price point of the Equus. A rear bench seat comes standard in the Signature trim level, which provides ample accommodation for three adults, but the Ultimate trim level converts the configuration into two seats divided by a center console complete with climate controls, a refrigerator and an eight-inch monitor. Think of it as business class on an airplane, except it's in a car.
At first glance, the 2011 Hyundai Equus looks like a mash-up of its European rivals. It bears a striking resemblance to the S-Class due to defining character lines and large front grille. Likewise, the Equus shares similar taillights with the BMW 7 Series and incorporates LED lights underneath the HID headlights, a la the Audi A8. Doppelganger characteristics aside, what's important is that the new Equus doesn't look like a Hyundai. Foregoing the same fluidic sculpture design language as its Hyundai stablemates, the Equus puts a more mature, more luxurious foot forward with imposing wheels arches, a large, ribbed grille up front, and dual chrome exhaust finishers at the rear. Rolling stock is limited to 19-inch wheels and tires for both trim levels.
The 2011 Hyundai Equus Signature, the "base" Equus luxury sedan, comes with a host of impressive standard features. The most notable include a 4.6-liter V8 engine, electronically controlled air suspension with damping control, a 608-watt Lexicon 7.1 surround sound system with 17 speakers, a navigation system, a 12-way power driver seat with massage system, and heated/cooled front seats. Other frivolities include a dual automatic temperature control system and 60/40 power-reclining and heated rear seats.
There actually aren't any options available for 2011 Hyundai Equus, just the two trim levels. The upper-level Equus Ultimate model includes all the lux features that come on the Signature Equus as well as a goldmine of upgrade, almost all of which are dedicated to turning the rear seats into a first-class experience. A 50/50 split cooled/reclining rear seat replaces the bench seat, making it a four-seater, and the passenger-side enjoys the addition of leg support and a massage system. Other additions include a rear entertainment center with an eight-inch screen, a thermoelectric rear console refrigerator, a forward-view cornering camera, and a power trunk lid.
A 4.6-liter V8 engine is the sole engine for the 2011 Hyundai Equus and is mated to a ZF 6-speed automatic transmission. In addition to providing smooth acceleration and enough power to scoot the large sedan to 60 mph in about six seconds, the potent V8 returns impressive highway mileage numbers, besting both the BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes S-Class.
385 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
333 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24 (Automatic transmission)
The 2011 Hyundai Equus Signature opens at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just under $59,000. Stepping up to the Ultimate trim level brings the price up to just over $65,000, a number that's well under any of the Equus competitors in the flagship sedan category. These competitors include the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. If you're looking to get the best deal on your Equus, be sure to check out kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price before going to the local Hyundai dealership. As far as resale value, the Hyundai Equus fares well against its competition, with projected values on par with its European rivals.