2012 Hyundai Equus Ultimate Sedan (5.0L V8 8-speed Automatic)
Driven On 8/2/2012
This rating has been carried forward from a prior year because the newer model has no substantial differences.
The Hyundai Equus wants to compete directly with top luxury brands from Europe and Japan but at an appreciably lower price. Comfort is paramount, as displayed by a smooth ride; large, quiet cabin; and high-end amenities such as seat massagers. The 5.0-liter V8 is strong yet refined.
PerformanceThe 429-hp, 5.0-liter V8 is strong and refined. The standard 8-speed transmission shifts smoothly in every situation we encountered. Dynamically it errs on the side of comfort and cruising rather than outright performance.
The new V8 makes all of the difference in this Equus. It pulls silently yet powerfully, with smooth gearshifts. Acceleratoin from 0 to 60 mph takes 5.7 seconds.
Firm pedal with good, short travel. Minimal dive during panic stops, but required 131 feet to reach a stop from 60 mph, which is slightly below average.
Steering is light at low speed, but firms up nicely on the highway. As precise as you'd ever need a luxury sedan. This is a cruiser, not a sprinter.
Sporty driving is not the purpose of the Equus. It drives like it belongs on a long, straight highway, but is stable -- if low on grip -- when pushed.
Find a highway and go. This is a purpose-built long-distance cruiser. Sit back, relax and drive. Or just sit back, relax and be driven.
ComfortIf not for the occasional grumble of its V8, we might forget the outside world existed. The cabin is quiet and its seats welcoming. The second-level comfort amenities (i.e.massage feature) we expect from this class are everywhere.
The full-size luxury segment is a tough place to compete, yet the Equus holds its own. Seats are comfortable over long drives. Seat heaters/coolers only add to the experience.
Soft, controlled ride. Sport mode amplifies sharp impacts more than we'd like. Normal mode feels slightly underdamped. Somewhere in between would be nice.
Road and tire noise are well isolated from the cabin. It's quiet in here. Under load, the grunt of its 5.0-liter V8 rustles the eardrums just enough to remind you it is there.
InteriorThe Ultimate limits passenger seating to four thanks to split reclining rear seats. Some rearward visibility issues. But ergonomic layout is otherwise thoughtful.
Lots of interior space per passenger. The Ultimate only seats four, as the center rear position is replaced by gadgetry. Choose the Signature for 5-person transportation.
Unremarkably easy entry with exceptionally wide-opening doors. Well-spaced door detents limit the threat of parking-lot door dings, however.
Immense cabin space. Passengers of all shapes and sizes should find comfort. Again, the rear-seat center console limits passenger capacity to four while increasing the luxury out back.
High trunklid limits rearward visibility to a degree, as does the wide C-pillar. Front and rearview cameras and a parking system fill in the gaps, however.
The trunk is big. Many luxury sedans get this right, and the Equus is one of them. Large opening and deep enough for anything we considered stuffing inside.
ValueValue is the Hyundai mantra. The Equus competes with cars far more expensive than itself. Quality may not be to the caliber of competing flagships but is still worth a look. Warranty and ownership extras set it apart from the pack.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Build quality and luxury are the name of the game in this class. The Hyundai does not disappoint with its appearance or choice of materials. But it does not wow, either.
Most every comfort and safety feature available on the established luxury marques in this class can be found on the Equus as standard equipment.
The Equus starts at $59,000 and competes with cars $20,000 more expensive. Our Equus Ultimate had $7,000 in optional equipment, costing a total of $66,650 as-tested.
Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 15 city and 23 highway mpg. That makes 18 mpg combined and is nothing worth bragging about. Still it is to be expected from a big V8.
The 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-year/unlimited-mile roadside assistance are the more noteworthy, as Hyundai's self-proclmaimed "America's Best Warranty" continues.
5-year/60,000-mile At Your Service valet program. Just call and they will pick up your car, supply a loaner vehicle and return yours when the service is complete.
Fun To DriveThis car does not beg to be driven aggressively. Sure, the 5.0-liter V8 is nice, but what is fun about this car is being a passenger. Rear seats recline, have footrests, seat heaters and coolers, oh, and don't forget massagers. Fun to ride.
The Equus is a car to drive somewhere and not to drive for the sake of driving. It's a mellow, luxurious commuter.
Some might consider the Equus the Poor Man's BMW/Audi/Mercedes/Lexus, but we beg to differ. Equus is its own version of luxury. We dig it.