Not too long ago, the idea of Hyundai fielding a large, V8-powered premium luxury sedan seemed about as likely as the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. Evidently, anything is possible. Beating the Cubs' stunning victory by five years, Hyundai introduced the Equus for the 2011 model year. It stood as a dark horse amid the prestigious, established thoroughbred entries offered from Europe, the U.S. and Asia. Yet the Korean entry gave those brands, and new-car shoppers, something to think about with its winning combination of competitive performance, an extensive equipment roster, massive passenger space and a strong value proposition.
For about $60,000 when new, the Hyundai Equus offered the space, comfort and amenities of fully optioned high-end sedans that cost $90,000 or even more. Although the Equus might not have been quite as performance-oriented or impeccably built as some of its esteemed rivals, it earned a place in this competitive segment. With its remarkably quiet and limousine-like cabin, top-drawer amenities, long warranty and hard-to-ignore value, the Hyundai Equus should appeal to those more concerned with substance than status.
Note that for 2017 the Equus was replaced by the Genesis G90, which is covered in a separate review.
Used Hyundai Equus Models
The Hyundai Equus is a large luxury sedan that was produced in a single generation that ran from 2011 through 2016. Based on Hyundai's Genesis platform, it was enlarged to provide limousine-like interior room.
Two trim levels were offered throughout this generation's run: Signature and Ultimate. Standard perks of the base yet loaded Signature trim include adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, front and rear heated seats, and a navigation system. The Hyundai Equus Ultimate's added highlights include power soft-close doors, a head-up display, surround-view cameras and a dual-screen DVD entertainment system. Only minor changes took place through the years. For 2014, for example, the Ultimate's two-passenger rear compartment evolved to accommodate three and various driver warning systems (lane departure, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert) were added.
For its first year only, the Equus was motivated by a 4.6-liter V8 good for 385 hp that sent power to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. In Edmunds performance testing, the Equus went from zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, respectably quick in general, though still slower than its competitors. All other years of the Equus feature a 5.0-liter V8 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. With 429 hp and more gears to work with, the Equus got quicker, running the 0-60-mph dash in a more competitive 5.7 seconds.
In reviews, Edmunds editors had mostly good things to say about the Hyundai Equus. A massive list of standard luxury features, a supremely smooth and quiet ride, ample power, limousine-like backseat room and an incredible sound system all drew praise. Minor gripes included the lack of an all-wheel-drive option and a driving experience that didn't equal that of more responsive, elite rivals. Also the cabin, though generally quite nice, still didn't measure up to the lofty standards set by Japanese and European carmakers. That said, we think there are plenty of luxury sedan shoppers who would be more than happy with the Equus' competent demeanor, relaxing ride, spacious cabin, abundant creature comforts and undeniable value proposition.