HUNTINGTON BEACH, California — The redesigned 2017 Hyundai Equus flagship sedan will offer all-wheel drive for the first time, Edmunds has learned.
The car will be unveiled in 2016.
The new Equus will draw on styling cues introduced on the redesigned 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan.
"Right now, they look like two different vehicles, but with the next Equus, you will see more of a sibling similarity," Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai Motor America president and CEO, said in an interview.
He said the 2017 Equus will have all-new sheet metal and a big, bold grille that is similar to the Genesis. Although he hasn't seen the car in person, Zuchowski said, judging from photographs, the new Equus looks longer than the current car.
"It is just a very substantial-looking vehicle," he said. "We showed pictures of the new Equus to Hyundai dealers and their response was really good, really strong."
Equus sales have struggled since the luxury sedan was introduced. Hyundai sold about 3,400 Equus sedans in 2014, a 4.5 percent decrease from the previous year. The company sold about 820 Equus sedans for the January through April period this year, a 32 percent drop.
Zuchowski said the lack of an all-wheel-drive option on the Equus and the availability of that feature for the first time on the redesigned 2015 Genesis hurt Equus sales.
Both are rear-wheel-drive sedans.
He said approximately 85 percent of the luxury vehicles sold in such Snowbelt regions as New York City and Chicago are equipped with all-wheel drive.
Zuchowski attributed an over 50 percent increase in Genesis sales this year to the availability of all-wheel drive. Buyers wanting an Equus who lived in snow-belt areas purchased a Genesis instead.
He is confident all-wheel drive will trigger a big boost in Equus sales.
"Now we have all-wheel drive and we are doing very, very well with the Genesis," he said. "We think Equus will be provided the same sort of lift."
Edmunds says: Luxury buyers who are making long-range plans will want to keep the 2017 Equus changes in mind. But there are plenty of other choices if you need something with all-wheel drive right now.