By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
The Equus is the ultimate Hyundai, a full-size luxury sedan meant to take on the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Lexus LS and Audi A8. In terms of power, refinement and amenities, Hyundai's ultimate sedan matches up well – and as may be expected from the badge it wears, does so while costing thousands or even tens of thousands less. With V8 power, rear-wheel drive and a list of standard features as long as the car itself, the Equus is a real-deal luxury liner. Yet there's no getting around that it's also still a Hyundai, and a $60,000-plus one. That alone will put the Equus out of contention for badge-conscious buyers. But those seeking more than status will find a comfortable executive sedan with another intangible trait: value.
If you desire the power, amenities, ride comfort and prodigious size of a high-end luxury sedan at a discount price, the 2015 Hyundai Equus grants just that. With only two trims to decide between and no options, the Equus is also refreshingly easy to choose and buy.
If your next luxury car must bear a luxury badge, this Hyundai probably won't suffice no matter how lavish it is. Another possible detriment: The Equus does not offer all-wheel drive for enhanced traction, an option that did just arrive on its Genesis sibling.
KBB Expert Ratings
After a substantial refresh last year, the Hyundai Equus luxury sedan returns for 2015 with no significant changes.
No one will mistake the dynamics of the Equus with those of the more performance-oriented BMW 7 Series or Audi A8, but we also doubt that's the raison d'être for...
... buyers ponying up for Hyundai's most expensive vehicle. The Equus' ride, rather, is pillow-soft thanks to an air suspension that quells all but the most offensive road imperfections. Highway cruising is relaxed, stable and hushed. With 429 horsepower, the 5.0-liter V8 engine has more than enough gusto to move this big rear-wheel-drive sedan. Steering feel is good in Normal mode, but more effort is required in Sport mode – and there's little reward for it in driving satisfaction. Given the Equus' wafty ways, we found it most comfortable (literally) in Normal mode, or the Snow mode when driving in inclement weather. The multi-adjustable leather-lined driver's seat and wood-and-leather steering wheel provide a satisfying tactile sensation.
17-SPEAKER LEXICON SURROUND-SOUND SYSTEM
Tell an audiophile friend that you have a Lexicon system in your car and you'll immediately be envied. Tell them it's in a Hyundai and they might think you're crazy. But Lexicon, known for ultra-expensive home audio systems, provides the exquisite soundtrack in the Equus as standard.
WARRANTY AND SERVICE
Hyundai is known for its 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and that applies equally on the Equus. Additionally, every new Equus comes with complimentary maintenance for three years/36,000 miles at the At Your Service valet initiative, in which the car is picked up and dropped off and the owner is given a loaner.
Roomy and opulent are the best two ways of describing the Equus' 5-passenger interior. Sumptuous leather and wood are the materials of choice. Every aspect of the Equus has been designed for driver and passenger comfort. Thanks to a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat and power-operated tilt/telescoping steering wheel, it isn't difficult to find a good spot behind the wheel. Where the Equus really stands out is in rear-seat accommodations. In Korea these cars are used as livery for high-profile executives, and it's easy to see why. With generous legroom, climate-controlled seats, shaded windows and even power lumbar support, sitting back there makes anyone feel like a VIP.
The Equus doesn't stray far from a formula that has long worked for other full-size luxury sedans such as the Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It all starts with a big, horizontal grille, wide stance, large wheels, pronounced yet soft body lines and nicely tucked rear. The Equus isn't nearly as evocative as the Hyundai Sonata, but neither is it as polarizing. As the elder statesman of the automaker's lineup, the Equus plays it safe by staying conservative. Besides, its sheer size gives it presence enough.
The 2015 Equus is available in just two trims, Signature and Ultimate. Signature could be considered the "base" trim, but it's hardly lacking. This least expensive Equus comes with a V8 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, navigation system with 9.2-inch command screen, tri-zone climate control, that 17-speaker Lexicon audio system we already raved about (see Favorite Features), smart cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and premium leather seating with suede headliner. Other passenger-oriented amenities include heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and power rear sunshade.
As there are no options for the Equus, buyers seeking the ultimate version can spend about $7,000 more for the Ultimate trim. It lives up to that name with forward and multi-view camera systems to ease parking, power-operated trunk, 12.3-inch TFT LCD instrument panel and head-up display. Rear-seat passengers are treated to cooled seats, rear-screen entertainment system with twin 9.2-inch monitors, power lumbar support and vanity mirrors. Another especially neat feature is the power door closure, which automatically and gently shuts the door.
The 2015 Hyundai Equus is powered by a sophisticated 5.0-liter V8 engine with variable valve timing and direct fuel injection. It is mated to Hyundai’s own in-house 8-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual-shift control. Despite the Equus' weight of over 4,550 pounds, Hyundai's full-size luxury sedan can scoot to 60 mph in six seconds or less. Fuel economy is rated at up to 23 mpg on the highway. That isn't terrible for a big V8, but it can't touch the 36 mpg-figure of a diesel Audi A8 or the 31-mpg mark of a diesel BMW 7 Series, both of which also feature all-wheel drive.
429 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
376 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23 mpg
The 2015 Hyundai Equus has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $62,450 for the Signature model and $69,700 for the fully loaded Ultimate edition. At these prices, the Equus indeed looks like a value compared with rivals. Base versions of the BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Jaguar XJ for example, begin in the mid-$70,000 range, while an Audi A8 starts in the high $70,000 range. A Mercedes-Benz S-Class, meanwhile, is nearer the 6-figure mark. The Cadillac XTS, starting in the mid-$40,000 range, is a possible alternative, though its front-drive architecture and lack of a V8 may be a turnoff for some. As one who values a good deal, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for the Equus. Long-term, the Equus' resale value is expected to be in line with its European competitors, but below that of the Lexus LS.