By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
When Lexus launched it first luxury sedan, the European manufacturers and press scoffed at the idea of a Japanese luxury car. Five years later, those same manufacturers watched their customer bases defect in droves to the new luxury king. We hope both Lexus and the big German trio remember that day because, with the arrival of the 2012 Hyundai Equus, history may very well be set to repeat itself. The 2012 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan is the company's most ambitious project to date, a $60,000 ultra-luxury sedan that takes aim at cars costing tens of thousands more. But, while the Equus is filled with all the right features and has the looks to play in this league, the Hyundai badge may be its biggest liability. The Japanese learned long ago that if you're going to be in the premium market, you need a premium brand name. Don't think so? Just look at what became of the VW Phaeton. Only time will tell if a BMW driver will leave his 7 Series to walk into a showroom peppered with Accents and Sonatas. But, stranger things have happened and, in this time of tightening budgets, a car like the 2012 Hyundai Equus may very well become the new face of luxury in America.
If you feel you've reached a point in your life were you deserve to be pampered, but a shaky economy has your conservative side flinching at the thought of dropping six digits of dollars on a luxury sedan, the 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan may be your salvation. With the Equus, you get all the luxury trappings of a premium European brand, plus Hyundai's "At Your Service" program that includes free maintenance for 5-years/60,000-miles.
While the 2012 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan's price may be right, the label is decidedly not designer. For those who place a premium on brand-name recognition, the Hyundai Equus nametag might not make the grade with the country club set.
The 2012 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan gains a new, gasoline direct-injection 5.0-liter V8 producing 429 horsepower and paired with an all-new in-house-built 8-speed automatic transmission. The Equus Ultimate gains power rear side-window sun shades.
Driving Impressions No one in the know will ever mistake the driving characteristics of the 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan with those of a BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but the average...buyer probably won't notice much difference. The Equus cabin is amazingly quiet and its air suspension ride is modulated to eliminate road imperfections while still returning a slightly sporty feel on winding roads. The 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan 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 and, though not as responsive as a 7 Series, it's a bit better than the Lexus LS, which is probably right about where Hyundai planners want the car to be.
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 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan's 17 speakers might seem like overkill, we applaud their superb sound quality, which completes the luxurious in-cabin experience.
Some cars, like the Maybach 62S, are far more fun to ride in than to drive. In the case of the 2012 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan, it's a 50/50 toss-up between the two choices. The Ultimate trim features executive-style rear seating for two, with wide, comfortable heated and cooling seats separated by a center console containing a refrigerator and controls for the flip-up rear-seat entertainment system. Even more impressive is the passenger-side rear seat that features a power-operated leg support, turning the 2012 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan into a mini first-class cabin. However, while we find this feature a nice touch, it really works better on a stretched wheelbase car, such as the Audi A8L, that allows plenty of room to extend long legs. A rear bench seat comes standard in the Signature trim level, which provides ample accommodation for three adults. No matter which Equus trim you choose, you'll find a car with sufficient headroom and legroom for everyone and an interior laced with rich, warm wood and fine leathers.Exterior
In designing the 2012 Equus luxury sedan, it is clear that Hyundai took a page from the Lexus story book. Just as the first LS heavily resembled the Mercedes Benz it was gunning for, the Equus has several visual cues from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. From Mercedes, the 2012 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan gets it defining character arches and wide front grille, while BMW can be seen in the tail lights and Audi is in the LED Daytime Running Lights beneath the headlamps. Despite the similarities to other premium sedans, when all the styling elements are combined, the look actually works. The 2012 Hyundai Equus premium sedan doesn't look like any other Hyundai, which is enough to get it the attention it needs from the well-to-do car enthusiasts. Although it might have benefited from the fluid and flowing lines that make up the Sonata sedan, the 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan forgoes the family resemblance, relying instead on its pronounced wheel arches, oversized ribbed grille and high beltline to make its mark. Highly-styled 19-inch alloy wheels round out the Equus' exterior.
The 2012 Hyundai Equus Signature sedan, the "base" model in the Equus family, comes with a host of impressive standard features. The most notable include a 5.0-liter V8 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, 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's seat with massage system, and heated and cooled front seats. Other touches include a dual automatic temperature control system and 60/40 power-reclining and heated rear seats.
There actually aren't any options available for the 2012 Hyundai Equus premium sedan, just the two trim levels. The upper-level Equus Ultimate model includes all the luxury features that come on the Signature Equus as well as a goldmine of upgrades, almost all of which are dedicated to turning the rear seats into a first-class experience. A 50/50-split cooled and reclining rear seat replaces the bench seat, making the Equus a four-seater, and the passenger-side rear seat adds leg support and a massage system. Other additions include a rear entertainment center with an 8-inch screen, a thermoelectric rear console refrigerator, a forward-view cornering camera and a power trunk lid.
The 2012 Hyundai Equus is powered by a new gasoline direct-injection 5.0-liter V8 engine that's matched to Hyundai's own in-house 8-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual-shift control. 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 on par with both the BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes S-Class.
429 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
376 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23
The 2012 Hyundai Equus Signature starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just under $60,000. Stepping up to the Ultimate trim level brings the price just shy of $67,000, a number that's well under any of the 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan's competitors in the flagship sedan category. These competitors include the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS 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 2012 Hyundai Equus fares well against its competition, with projected values on par with its European rivals.
By Crystal (CA) on Wednesday, February 06, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Luxury car, more affordably priced"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"My Equus is a great ride, super powerful, and handles well for its weight and size. It has all the luxury of BMW or Lexus for a price that's considerably less. Eye catching exterior, and the interior is well appointed, spacious, and extremely comfortable. I can't think of anything it lacks that I might need. Only minor issue is with the trunk occasionally stopping midway up. Driving this car makes me feel good, and when I get to where I'm going, I can't wait to go again."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By P&M (NH) on Thursday, November 29, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Drive, seating, luxury features"
Cons: "No active passenger seat, AWD"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Debated on BMW 7 series and Audi A8. I through out the Lexus almost immediately - did not like the seating. The BMW and Audi have some fantastic features not found on the Equus but they were nearly 50% more. The Equus is incredibly comfortable, loaded with features, extremely powerful engine, and more."
18 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By POP (GA) on Sunday, September 16, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 900overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "The list is too long to fit in the space provided"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I traded a 2011 BMW 535i for the Ultimate.I was in the dealership to help a daughter trade for a Sonata and walked out with both the Sonata and the EQUUS.The salesman let me take a test drive while waiting on the paperwork to be completed on my daughter's new Sonata. It made the BMW, which I thought was a great car,seem very over priced. I have had the EQUUS now for a month and have no regrets.It is smooth, quiet and powerful. One could not ask for more in a luxury car. It has features only to be found in cars in the $75,000 and up price range."
12 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By LAdriver (CA) on Monday, August 20, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 250overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Just got my Equus 8/17/12. Traffic part of navigation was not working out the door. Called Sirius customer service, who told me they could not fix it, and that in 7-10 business days, someone would call me to address the issue! Next, I called the Equus service line. Was told by the first agent, Kristin, this was not Hyundai's problem, nothing they could do! I spoke to supervisor Mike, who told me basically the same thing. Three days later, I called Hyundai again, supervisor Maryanne said the same thing-not Hyundai's problem. Actually Maryanne spent more time making excuses for Sirius than anything. She told me I should wait to hear back from Sirius. When I pressed her on whether she thought Sirius' response to me of 7-10 business days to get a call back was reasonable, she told me she could not say, as she was not an expert in that product! I expect Hyundai to stand behind their product, especially the Equus. Instead, every person I spoke with at Hyundai has immediately passed the buck to Sirius and refused to help. I would expect them to replace the unit or lean heavily on Sirius to fix this timely. No such luck and no one at Hyundai seems to care."
26 people out of 34 found this review helpful
By professional (MO) on Saturday, July 28, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I came in for an oil change and left with a 2011 Equus. Took me a week to check out reviews and cost of normal stuff after the sale and to find out the value of it and my old Hyundai Santa Fe Limited with 105,000 miles and working as though it only had 5,ooo miles on it. I had looked at the Genesis before and could not come to spending that much money. Then i rode the Equus and was impressed. Good communication from the service department of service costs and good information from the sales person. Love this car and hope to keep it for 200,000 miles or more. Plan to use it to travel on road trips four times a year. Love the no noise as I travel and all the extras that come standard with it. I love the shades in the rear and the cool seats up front. It is well worth the extra money. If this car lasts like my Santa Fe I will have a good bargin for the dollars that i spent. The dealership helped to sell me on this car and the service that they provide. My only draw back is the black interior and the low gas milage and the different set of tires for the front and back. i did average over 27 miles on my trip to the lake driving the speed limit or a little below it."
22 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By dewans (IL) on Tuesday, January 31, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, very quiet, joy to drive"
Cons: "no all-wheel drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Just bought it a month ago and I already have 2000 miles on it. Very smooth and comfortable ride. I was apprehensive with a rear-wheel in Chicago winter (not much of a winter this year) but with snow tires on it, have had no issues driving in the one snowstorm that we had."
12 people out of 15 found this review helpful