2011 Hyundai Equus Long-Term Road Test - Comfort

2011 Hyundai Equus Long-Term Road Test

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2011 Hyundai Equus: Designated Driver

January 09, 2012


There are a few things that will end an automotive journalist's career. I would think getting a DUI is right at the top of the list. When I do enjoy an adult beverage, it's pretty much always in my neighborhood; within staggering distance of Casahashi.

When I head out for other areas, it's either a cab or a designated driver. Saturday was my turn behind the wheel as the DD and our long-term Hyundai Equus was a great choice for the weekend.

As expected, the smooth ride and roomy interior were the best parts of the DD car. Also, I appreciated how quiet the cabin remained, allowing me to hear the conversations, even after being blasted by the speakers in the bar. For my passengers, I think the amount of control bestowed upon the chairman's (right rear) seat was the big hit.

One passenger decided my tastes in music were far too whiny for the night, so he switched the stereo from my iPhone to some techno station on satellite radio. It sounded like a car alarm to me. After a seat change on the way home, another passenger remembered he could adjust the front passenger seat from the back. Hilarity ensued, but only briefly.

Other cars that might pass the DD test include our Audi A8. I'm sure one of the minivans would be good, too, but really, that's no way to hit the town. Next time, I get to be passenger.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: Vegas Trip, Accolades & Demerits

November 30, 2011

Las Vegas Blvd.jpg

It turns out that our long-term 2011 Hyundai Equus Signature and the city of Las Vegas both elicited some contentious discussion earlier this week. But that's why we have this Long Term Blog. And Orlando, FL, for those Vegas Haters. Back to the Equus.

I really like the Equus, but it's not perfect of course. Allow me to break it down.


  • Excellent power (385 hp) from the 4.6L V8. Climbing grades was a breeze. Passing on the grades happens as if you're on the flats.
  • Superb ZF 6-speed auto transmission: excellent shift timing and no shift shock.
  • Great ride quality in Sport mode: controlled with almost no floatiness
  • Power rear sun shades are very convenient for crossing the hot, sunny Mojave desert.
  • Excellent Navi with up to date traffic reports
  • Huge trunk. Plenty of space for the luggage of 3 or 4 people on a road trip.

Update: For the Vegas trip I got 21.1 mpg over 600 mi. Over the entire long holiday weekend I achieved 20.8 over 900 miles. Not bad.

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2011 Hyundai Equus: Perfect for Airport Duty

October 29, 2011


I was volunteered for airport duty the other day, so I made a point to grab the keys to our 2011 Hyundai Equus. The Equus is great as an airport shuttle.

It kept me comfortable while I sat in the cell phone waiting lot (of course, the seat massagers helped). The trunk opening is huge, which makes loading suitcases easy. And the back seats offer significantly more legroom than that coach seat you sat wedged into for the past 4 hours.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 14,375 miles

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: Best On A Deserted Freeway

October 06, 2011

equus int night.jpg

Driving our longterm 2011 Hyundai Equus is a serene experience subject to a few qualifiers. First, there's the tomblike silence. This is a very quiet car even at superlegal speeds. Out on the open freeway it just gulps down the miles.

Not only is this thing quiet, but it's impressively robust when it comes to crosswinds.

Throw in even some light freeway traffic on this serene drive and the Equus' adaptive cruise overreacts, as many of these systems do. No problem, you reach for the button or switch or setting to disable the adaptive component... and find nothing. You R the FingM for twenty minutes and find squat there, too.

Not being able to defeat an annoying "feature" that's been overlaid on an otherwise ubiquitous vehicle subsystem (i.e, the cruise control) is kind of the opposite of luxury.

Also, speaking of fussiness, the singsong chime that tweeps when you start and stop the Equus is hokey. All it does it cheapen the vibe.

Hyundai's Department of Unnecessary Features should consult with the NVH guys on how to better do their jobs.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature Goes on Vegas Road Trip With the Girls

October 03, 2011


I may not have gotten lucky in Vegas this weekend but I did count my lucky stars in scoring our 2011 Hyundai Equus for the trip with the girls. Four plugged-in girls with all their high-tech gear, carryon luggage, road trip snacks, and still room to accommodate our loot from a quick stop at the outlets.

Needless to say, the luxurious Hyundai made that dreary slog of a drive to and from Sin City surprisingly bearable. As the driver I appreciated the plush ride; comfortable seats; XM's 1st Wave station; really quiet cabin, save for the occasional car-aoke sessions; and the cruise control on those rare traffic-free instances on the I-15.

Usually when I drive to Vegas, I just want to get there. Don't want to dilly dally and sightsee along the way. But with the Equus, I didn't mind so much. (The photo above was shot at the abandoned Rock-a-Hoola Water Park in Newberry Springs.)

My only lament is that I didn't realize the massage controls were just on the side of the driver seat til I was back in L.A. getting the car washed. D'oh! (More on that later.) A chair massage would have come in really handy during that 540-mile round trip. Argh! My bad for not breaking open the manual...or just noticing the controls every time I got into the seat.

In any case, hit the jump to read what my passengers thought of the Equus.

Unlike James Riswick and his best man on their trip in the Equus to Vegas, my backseat passengers didn't mess with the rear-seat controls. My friend Esther did recline her seat and consequently was unconscious for most of the drive.

Lindsay, on the other hand, is more of an upright sitter in general so didn't have use for the controls. She wasn't crazy about the vents in the back, though. It was a bonus to be able to control the climate from the backseat but that controlled the temperature and fan speed for the whole cabin, and not just the rear.

Everyone loved the comfortable seats and the ample legroom. "When you get out, you don't feel like you've been smooshed up and driving for hours. Cuz it's so comfy, like sitting on a couch," said Lindsay.

Another noted feature was the screens on the rear windows. Perfect for keeping out that oppressive Nevada sun as well as feeling like a VIP rolling into Vegas.

As for how the trunk did? "The trunk is astonishingly roomy. Perfect for as many people as it holds," said Esther. So I've no doubt that Takahashi was very comfortable back there during his Vegas roadtrip with Riswick and Co.

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2011 Hyundai Equus: Beauty Contest

September 26, 2011


My friend, Cheryl, is one of those work-until-you-drop types, and when she sends out an e-mail proclaiming that it's time for a visit to her favorite day spa in Los Angeles, you know that she really needs some pampering. My husband and I decided to go for the hot-stone massages, mediation music, cucumber-infused water and all the copies of Esquire and Cosmo you could ever want to read. I volunteered to drive, and I thought the limo-like Equus might be a good candidate for spa coach. It was indeed.

Cheryl is 5 feet, 9 inches tall, but found the back seat of the Equus plenty roomy, even with my 5-foot, 10-inch husband sitting in front of her. With his seat in its furthest back position, her knees still didn't touch. With an iPhone paired (a quick, intuitive process), we had the right music for the drive, and let Cheryl play around with the backseat-driven volume and selection controls, just for fun (then we locked her out). The back-up camera was helpful in the spa's small parking lot. The car's navigation system chose a good route home after lunch, and the Equus' V8 had more than enough pickup to get us around freeway slow spots. The ride, in front and back, was comfortable without being spongy.

Cheryl wasn't familar with Hyundai's company makeover in recent years, and she was impressed with the look, ride and depth of features in the Equus. "Hard to believe it's the same company that used to sell little boxy cars," she said. She texted her husband (who was driving home from Arizona in a rented 2011 Cadillac CTS) to report that she was being ferried around in a $60,000 Hyundai, complete with all the luxury bells and whistles imaginable. It took just a second for him to quip, "It's still a Hyundai."

And that's the problem: No matter how fine the Equus looks or how laden with goodies it might be, some people are not going to perceive it as a great luxury value, but as an upstart econobox with delusions of grandeur. Is that fair or accurate? No, but perceptions aren't objective. The Equus -- perhaps more than any other Hyundai model -- has its reputational work cut out for it.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @12,899 miles

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: Luxe Ambulance

September 15, 2011


I did that thing that a lot of us guys do when you start ticking off the years of your third decade: a seemingly innocuous awkward movement that generates a searing, blinding pain at the base of your spine, leaving you crumpled and broken for hours afterward. I'd love to attribute it to some kind of masculine effort around the house - shifting the fridge, moving heavy boxes out to the garage, reaching to rescue a litter of kittens from the cypress tree off the balcony.


It was nothing so much as a limp, white-collar injury sustained when leaning over at a bad angle to place my laptop manbag on the floor. Driving a hoppity new Z4 into the office was less enjoyable than it could've been (kind of sedate in first gear, but pretty great once the new turbo two-liter's rotating mass gets some legs under it), and after a day of moderating Advil intake, the Equus seemed like the only proper convalescence. The 212-way seat adjustments allowed me to practice the moves I will eventually master as an old man, complete with a string of expletives.

The massage feature sounded good at first, but its mechanical kneading - welcome on almost any other day - just amplified the pain. The heated feature was also nice until I realized my butt was on fire, while my spine was just warm. Still, I much appreciated the Equus' soft ride and the burly V8 that sped me quickly to a proper home remedy.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Hyundai Equus: Bright Lights, Big City

August 25, 2011


A night out on the town in the Equus really brought out some of its strong points. A cruise down Sunset Boulevard allowed me to enjoy the smooth the ride and how the big sedan accelerates with authority when called upon. It really hits all of the marks that, at least for me, define a luxury sedan.

The Lexicon sound system is equally adept at delivering clean, crisp tones as well as rock out with some thumping bass. The cabin is quiet as a crypt, allowing for whisper quiet conversations. As much as I like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, I would probably spend my own money on the Equus. Some might say the depreciation is a killer on the Hyundai, but really, the Benz gets dinged pretty hard once you sign on the dotted line, too.

As for the people who think the badge is a deal breaker, I say, get over it. When I see someone driving either an Equus or Genesis, I think to myself, "there's a smart shopper who knows the value of a dollar."

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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2011 Hyundai Equus: Retirement Party at Petco Park

August 22, 2011


Some friends and I made plans weeks ago to go to San Diego this past Sunday for the number retirement ceremony for MLB's current all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman, followed by the Padres/Marlins game. There would be four of us, and since the two rear-seaters are six-footers, I didn't want to mess around with midsize cars like our 528i (which I know can be cramped in back) or the M56. So I picked our 2011 Hyundai Equus.

Spending last week in Seoul made me more enthusiastic about driving the Equus because this is the top home-market car there. Sonatas and Optimas are for regular people (and taxi drivers), but the Equus is the limo for dignitaries, and there are plenty of decade-old first-generation cars still on the road and still looking dignified. They're all painted black like our long-termer.

We set out for San Diego early Sunday morning. Right away, I noticed the suspension's preference for floating and bobbing over expansion joints and ruts. I switched to the Sport damping mode to see if that provided a little more control, but it just seemed to make the ride harsh. So back to normal mode. Yeah, the ride's floaty, but it's pretty comfortable, and 250 miles later, it was still pretty comfortable.

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: Coast Drive

July 19, 2011


Yesterday was a good day. To reward myself, I picked our Hyundai Equus to shepherd myself to and from Oxnard for a Michelin Design Challenge dinner. At the dinner, I found redemption and validation for all of the decisions I've made over the last 25 years. While I generally don't live with regret, the "what ifs" in my life have always been in the background. No more.

On the way home, I took the coast route. Pacific Coast Highway between Oxnard and Santa Monica is a wonderful stretch of road that provides a driver with beautiful scenery and plenty of time to reflect. And at that moment, the Equus was the perfect car at the perfect time.

Its quiet cabin let the music permeate my brain unfiltered. The big V8 engine delivered effortless power that I likened to a modern highrise elevator – smooth, linear and unstoppable. The ride was fluid without being floaty and gave me the impression of low-level flight instead of driving. It all allowed me to get lost in my thoughts and look forward to the road ahead.

All of this can be said of the top-tier luxury sedans, for sure, but the Hyundai managed to accomplish this at a fraction of the price of a Bimmer or Benz. Some may consider the Equus a knockoff of the established German sleds, but Hyundai created something that is on par and on point. Car snobs would likely turn their noses up at it, but I'm convinced that the vast majority wouldn't be able to tell the difference from the driver's seat.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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2011 Hyundai Equus: Suspension and Ride Quality

May 13, 2011


I'm pretty impressed with the suspension setup and tuning on our Hyundai Equus. There's no question that it's the smoothest riding car in our long-term fleet right now. Around town, it absorbs small bumps and potholes quite well and keeps occupants comfortable. But there's more to it than just that.

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2011 Hyundai Equus: Limo Service

May 10, 2011


Over the weekend I had my mother and mother-in-law visiting, and I ended up spending a fair amount of time driving them around town for shopping and various errands. Our long-term Equus was a hit thanks to its smooth ride, palatial back seat, effective automatic air conditioning, satellite radio (60s on 6!) and big trunk. Put a suit and tie on me and I might as well been a limo driver.

Both moms were very surprised to learn that the Equus was a Hyundai. I'm sure if I had just told them it was a Lexus they would have been none the wiser.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 6,420 miles

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2011 Hyundai Equus: Chauffeur-Driven

April 18, 2011


Friday night my nephew and a friend were in town. I told them I'd pick them up after work. Now, because I work at Edmunds, I'm the cool aunt. So, I got the following text:

You wouldn't happen to be driving an R8 or GT-R would you?

No, Hyundai Equus.

Oh sweeet.

So, I guess the Equus is cool with the kids. Well, they're not actually kids; they are in their early 20s. But they enjoyed playing with the controls in the back seat while I chauffeured them around L.A. They remarked on the car's comfortable, high-quality interior. They wanted to know what it could do on the highway, what kind of power it had. And they mentioned that they'd never seen another on the road or at their workplaces. One works at a casino and the other in finance.

It's taking the Hyundai Equus some time to catch on with the luxury crowd. Have you seen any on the road?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Hyundai Equus: What an Equus Fan Thinks

March 22, 2011


"I heard you guys got an Equus," my friend Matt said. I knew what he was getting at. He wanted me to bring our 2011 Hyundai Equus Signature by his ice cream shop in West LA. So last night I stopped by. Apparently he was so excited to see the car that he squealed and ran out the door, causing his customers to wonder if something was wrong. But once outside, he walked up to the Equus slowly, checking out its lines. "Those chrome wheels make it look cheap," he said.

I unlocked the doors so he could explore it and immediately he went for the backseat, which made me laugh because that just showed he was more concerned about how it felt being driven around rather than driving it.

Matt liked the feel and comfort of the seats and that they were power-adjustable. When I asked him why he was so interested in checking out the Equus he said that he had seen it in Korea but had never been inside of it and was excited when he heard it was coming to the U.S. "I think it's pretty incredible that a Korean car company is making a $60,000 car and is trying to compete with Lexus and high-end German companies," he said.

So what did he think of it? "The fit and finish is beautiful. It reminds me of a Lexus LS and that's a good thing." However, he was disappointed that once he got in the driver seat he couldn't find the massager. "It shouldn't take this long to find the massager."

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Hyundai Equus: A Note from the Chairman

February 16, 2011

The Chairman.jpg

Since Magrath is busy running Straightline and finding the perfect recipe for figgy dumpling bread, he has neglected to post about driving to my bachelor party in our Hyundai Equus. Yes, it was the second, mystery car.

As the Chairman, I felt it necessary to take control of the situation.

I suppose I should back up a few steps. The first time I saw an Equus on the road it was on the streets of Seoul, it was black and it was next to another new black Equus. They were everywhere, since like New York, Seoul is covered in black limousines carrying around chairmans and vice chairmans of this and that. So when it seemed only fitting that as the man of the hour, I should declare myself the Chairman and sit in the Equus' grand back seat on the way to Vegas with my buddy Chris next to me and Mike as our chauffeur.

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Past Long-Term Road Tests