2011 Hyundai Equus Long-Term Road Test - Performance

2011 Hyundai Equus Long-Term Road Test

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: Time Flies

January 18, 2012


We bid our long-term 2011 Hyundai Equus Signature a forlorn "AMF" (Adios My Friend) two weeks ago.

I was the last staff member to drive it, taking it the night before it was picked up and returned to Hyundai Motor America.

For me it was the final chance to experience that smooth and powerful 4.6L V8, the near-perfect shift-timing of the ZF 6-speed auto transmission, and that solid chassis with its excellent ride quality.

Sure, the interior had many opportunities for improvement. That didn't keep me from being one of the Equus' biggest fans here -- and I'm not a Hyundai cheerleader by any means (I thought our Sonata was vastly overrated.) I enjoyed our Equus because it was a great car, and I will miss it.

And with its departure after an entire year with us, it was another reminder of how quickly 2011 passed.

Time flies.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 20,800 miles (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

Hit the jump for the elegant Equus video, "A Poetic Capture."

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: Roadtrip Report

December 12, 2011


Over the weekend I took our longterm 2011 Hyundai Equus from Los Angeles to Santa Cruz and then on to Emeryville in the Bay Area. In total I covered 834 miles, making it the longest trip I've yet taken in this big ground-pounder.

Like all cars, the Equus isn't perfect. Its combination of size, silence, price and features is remarkable, but it hasn't yet fully nailed the details of the luxury car experience.

Observations (and trip fuel economy) after the jump.

Long trips like this one involve lots of cruise control use. I've previously gone on the record as not being a fan of the adaptive function of the Equus' cruise control system.

On this trip I found another aspect of the Equus' cruise about which to gripe -- it slows you down when the freeway turns. It goes like this -- if the car detects an arc in the freeway (via the stability control system's lateral accelerometer), it shaves your set speed. The higher the g-level, the more it trims your speed.

The idea behind this "feature" is to protect you from, apparently, ever experiencing any lateral g force. Unfortunately, freeways turn, yet I still want to cruise at the speed that I set. That's why I set that speed.

There are other cars that have a similar speed-trimming function, but the Equus' is easily the most conservative I've driven. Even the gentlest curve in the road results in a downward speed adjustment. Like the adaptive function, it needs an off button. Just go the damn speed I told you to go.

Beyond that, the Equus' huge, huge chairs front and rear drew lots of praise from my passengers. Heated rear seats that recline, and more than enough leg- and headroom for 6'3" dudes? Talk about luxury.

The path to Emeryville from Santa Cruz involves many twisting roads and freeways, some of which are somewhat bumpy. The Equus is definitely not at home on these roads, but probably not for the reason you think. Despite its size -- and it is colossal -- it actually doesn't feel as ponderous as its dimensions suggest since the steering is pretty quick. Instead, it's the steering's lack of feel coupled to laggardly throttle response and a discombobulated ride quality that gives the Equus fits here. The air suspension just isn't up to the task of dealing with managing roll angles while also absorbing bumps. Also, bump steer. Bump steer! In a luxury car! Weird.

One thing about quiet cars is that the smallest non-quiet thing is more easily noticed. There's a wind rustle from the passenger A-pillar area that was observed on both legs of the trip. Could be the mirror, too. Anyway, it stood out, so I figured I'd mention it.

Total trip fuel economy (mostly freeway; 80-ish mph cruise, very light cargo): 21.1 mpg

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 17,949 miles.

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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: 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 Signature: The Manual Shift Gate

June 22, 2011

Equus gate.jpg

The manual shift gate in our Equus is on the passenger's side. It should be on the driver's side.

Tell me why I'm wrong.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2011 Hyundai Equus: Instant Gratification

June 07, 2011


I mentioned in my last Equus post that the big Hyundai gets my vote over our long-term BMW 528i on its throttle response alone. Above is a graphical representation -- courtesy of the iPhone Dynolicious app -- of what I'm talking about. Compare that to the BMW's after the jump.

Notice how the Equus starts pouring on the power within the first quarter-of-a-second? The BMW doesn't start until the halfway mark. It doesn't seem like much, but behind the wheel, it feel like an eternity. I like the Hyundai's snap off the line -- it's as if it trusts my judgement to launch off the line, rather than second-guess me.

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: Jumpy Throttle Tip-In

May 23, 2011


This is a fine engine, this 4.6-liter V8 in our longterm 2011 Hyundai Equus. It's velvet-smooth, speaks in hushed tones and has plenty of punch.

It's got this fussy throttle calibration, though, that could be better.

When you're navigating commute traffic in slow-and-go conditions, you notice it the most -- there's a tip-in delay that's followed by a whole lot of sauce delivered at once. This latter characteristic is probably intended to make the Equus feel enormously powerful, except it's too exaggerated and makes the Equus unnecessarily jumpy instead. That's not luxe, after all.

The throttle "gain" aspect is purely a calibration issue that's easily changed, were Hyundai so inclined, but I'm not so sure the tip-in delay is as easily remedied.

Mind you, none of this throttle action in the Equus is as obnoxious as that of our BMW 528i.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: The Luxo Barge And Burnouts?

April 21, 2011

Equus preburnout final.jpg

Rear-wheel drive and a 385-horsepower V8. Sounds like a recipe for burnouts.

Except this mammoth Hyundai needs some real prodding to break those rear tires loose.

Go straight from brake to throttle and you'll be lucky to get a chirp, even with ESC off, because the Equus is hesitant off the line.

Overlap brake and throttle a bit, then release the brakes and it'll light up the rear tires for maybe a second.

Get more aggressive with the power braking and you can, in fact, do a nice rolling burnout. But since the Equus shifts for itself, even in manual mode, you need to keep track of the revs so it doesn't shift to second gear. Do it right and you can leave a nice, long pair of black stripes.

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: Stonk-to-Dollar Ratio Win

April 13, 2011


A few of us have criticized the Equus interior. A few of have praised it. I rode the Horse home last night and still found the materials a little downmarket for its class. Repeat, for its class. The leather doesn't feel as rich, the trim pieces slightly underweight. Even the multimedia controller feels a little simple. Not fragile, just too light. Then again, I wouldn't last in product planning; I'd ask for a solid billet disc thick as a hockey puck.

But none of that mattered once I got on the road. What mattered was that the ambient world just kinda disappeared outside of this black hulking mass of noise-cancelling headphone. There's mechanical music, but it's off in the distance. The Equus even paired my phone while I waited at a light (at least one other automaker, also starts with an H, wouldn't let us do that).

And when leaning on the pedal with an open shot to the highway, those interior gripes seemed petty. All you need for a tired drive home, I've decided, are good seats, a good stereo, and a stonkin' V8 (well, a 4.6-liter at any rate). The rest, it's gravy.

Well, maybe not the adaptive cruise control. The Equus radar love seems pretty outstanding. No major braking events when someone jumps in your lane (they do and always will, at least until you get your hands on a Navy laser). Just a nice quick decel and a return to form.

But this thing's got motor. Compare its 0-60 to the LS460 all you like. Doesn't matter. A burly eight with 333 lb-ft at 3,500 rpm, surrounded by a feature-loaded quiet room, a well-mapped infotainment system, and gets 24 mpg highway - not a lot of reason Americans shouldn't like this car.

So the question just becomes, do you spend $60k on a Hyundai? Nearly 800 people this year already have. And data from our colleagues at AutoObserver shows more people are thinking about the Equus. Last month, its consideration among luxury shoppers fell only a couple of percentage points below the Audi A6. And 7% more were leaning to the Equus over the Infiniti M56.

It still lags plenty far behind with those set on a 5 Series or E-Class, but, interestingly, since January more than 7% of Lexus LS and 6% of combined Jaguar XF/XJ shoppers have cross-shopped the Equus.

We've rattled on at length about what a great value this car is. You'll spend $8,500 to option up an E550 with the same nav, killer audio, heated seats and adaptive cruise. An LS460, meanwhile, starts in the mid-$60k's. Add the Comfort Plus package and adaptive cruise and you're in the 70's.

I've decided my judgments on the Equus interior are those of a feeble mind and a sedate right foot. Big motor wins.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Hyundai Equus: Yes, Lexus Should Be Worried

April 11, 2011


I'm not usually looking for a soothing ride. I want feedback, road feel and even a little noise when I'm behind the wheel. But every so often I get in a situation when all I want is a smooth, quiet ride that doesn't get in the way.

Such was the case this weekend as I crisscrossed L.A. in search of various motorcycle parts. All I really needed was a good navigation system and some peace and quiet so I could call stores/sellers along the way. I picked the Equus and never regretted it.

Sure, the Equus has a "Sport" button and all, but I think it feels just fine in the normal setting. Everything on the freeway melts away underneath the air suspension in the standard setting and road noise is minimal. It reminded me of the last Lexus LS I drove. The Equus may not have the brand recognition of the big LS, but it sure feels like one from behind the wheel. That's a good thing for Hyundai. There are plenty of Lexus buyers who could not care less about the brand and simply want nothing more than a smooth, serene ride. If Hyundai can get a few Lexus buyers to try the Equus, there's a good chance they won't go back.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: Love Riding This Horse

March 18, 2011

2011 Hyundai Equus Downtown Los Angeles.jpg

Complaints? I have more than a few about our long-term 2011 Hyundai Equus Signature. Many of them concern the quality of the interior materials (additionally, many of the interior materials need improvement.)

But dynamically, I love this car. It's a highway cruiser, for sure. But the ride/handling balance is excellent, one of the best I've experienced in this segment. In Sport mode, the Equus has a flat, controlled ride, with superb impact control. A standard electronic air suspension (optional on the Lexus LS) is responsible for the ride quality, as is an electronic continuous damping control system (CDC).

The 4.6L V8 makes a smooth 385 hp, with a top-notch transmission. The ZF 6-speed auto, with available manual mode, has superb shift timing (in Sport mode) with no shift shock.

If Hyundai would upgrade the interior during the minor change of Equus, this thing will be a real thoroughbred.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 3,400 miles

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2011 Hyundai Equus: The New Face of Luxury?

February 23, 2011


Nothing says old luxury like a big ol' Bentley/Rolls convertible. So I couldn't help park the Equus right next to it. Does it look anywhere near as stately or refined? Not really, but I would much rather drive the Equus than the Azure.

I've driven Bentley convertibles like this one and they're not exactly what you would call precise. Vague and barge-like is a more appropriate description. The Equus on the other hand is pretty maneuverable for its size. It can be a little too soft at times, but if you don't like the extra softness the "Sport" button gets rid of it pretty effectively. I'll admit to leaving off a few times and just enjoying the ride though.

Now would I rather have the Equus or the new, more modern Bentley Mulsanne? That's a different story entirely.

Ed Hellwig, Editor @ 2,301 miles

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: It Remembers!!!

February 22, 2011

Equus Sport Button.JPG

I've discerned perhaps the most critical feature in our new long term 2011 Hyundai Equus Signature. It's not 0-60 time or the number of seat adjustments or cabin decibels at 70 mph.

No, this is a unique feature that could put every other luxury car maker out of business.

You see, the 2011 Hyundai Equus...remembers when you put it in Sport mode!!!

I seriously almost had an accident when I got in the car the morning after driving it home, pushed the start button, engaged drive, started on my way to work, and then saw the Sport light illuminated!

"Wait a second, I haven't engaged sport mode yet. I haven't hit that button since yesterday. Oh. My. God!"

It seems almost every luxury and/or performance car these days offers some form of adjustable driver settings, but very few remember those settings once you shut the car off. This is especially true if the setting is more aggressive (i.e. Sport).

For instance, I can't really drive our long-term 5 Series in the default setting, because throttle response is too, well, non-existent. Seriously, I don't consider the car drivable until I've engaged the Sport setting. And because it always defaults to non-Sport after shutting the car off I have to hit that button every time I start the 528.

I'm pretty sure most cars default to, for lack of a better term, "limp noodle mode" because it's part of the EPA certification process. Whatever engine setting the car starts in is what the EPA uses when determining fuel mileage ratings. Because the Sport mode on the Equus doesn't change throttle response (or fuel mileage) Hyundai can let the car stay in Sport mode at start up.

Even better, the default throttle settings in the Equus don't make the car feel like it's driving out of molasses whenever you apply the throttle from a dead stop. That means there's no need to put it in Sport mode to "fix" throttle response. However, if you put it in Sport mode to tighten the suspension and steering response it stays that way until you bring it out of Sport mode...forever!

As Tech Sgt. Chen said, "It's the simple things in life you treasure."

Are there other cars out there with a similar, "remembered" Sport setting? I'm sure there are but I can't immediately recall them. Help me out guys.

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor at Large

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: Track Tested

February 21, 2011


There is something extremely satisfying about throwing a luxury car like our long-term 2011 Hyundai Equus Signature through our battery of tests. Watching 4-6,000 pounds of comfortable cruiser accelerate, brake, slalom and skidpad is one of the better parts of the job. Sure, exotics and other sports cars are cool, so are lurid powerslides, but watching a luxo-barge -- be it SUV, coupe or sedan -- navigate the cones and the dragstrip is great. Like a big dog on a linoleum floor.

So, for protocol and fun, we took our Equus to the track to see exactly what this cruiser can do when pushed. Follow the jump for 0-60, quarter mile, slalom and skidpad results on our Hyundai Equus.

Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Equus Signature
Odometer: 1,166
Date: 1/25/2011
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $58,900

Drive Type: Front Engine, Rear-wheel-drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed automatic
Engine Type: Naturally aspirated gasoline V8
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 4,627 / 282
Redline (rpm): 6,750
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 385 @ 6,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 333 @ 3,500
Brake Type (front): 13.6-inch ventilated disc with four-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 12.4-inch ventilated disc with one-piston sliding caliper
Steering System: Electric speed-proportional power steering
Suspension Type (front): Multilink
Suspension Type (rear): Multilink
Tire Size (front): P245/45R19 98V
Tire Size (rear): P275/40R19 101V
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ContiProContact
Tire Type: All-Season
Wheel size: 19-by-9 inches front and rear
Wheel material (front/rear): Chrome Alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,530

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 2.7 (2.7 w/TC on)
0-45 (sec): 4.5 (4.7 w/TC on)
0-60 (sec): 6.7 (6.9 w/TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.4 (6.6 w/TC on)
0-75 (sec): 9.6 (9.7 w/TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.8 @ 96.7 (14.9 @ 96.3 w/TC on)


30-0 (ft): 32
60-0 (ft): 129

Slalom (mph): 59.5 (60.5 w/TC OFF)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.77 (0.76 w/TC OFF)


Db @ Idle: 40.9
Db @ Full Throttle: 72.1
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 60.5

Acceleration: Not too snappy at launch, but power builds rapidly as rpm climb. Very quiet -- even at WOT. Smooth upshifts (man shift N/A due to auto-upshift override); good top end and still pulling hard across finish line. Managed a bit of wheelspin, but it only hurt the times; perhaps it was even punished by electronics.

Braking: Very consistent dist and pedal feel with one anomalous short stop. Seems to be okay with heat but did detect odor at the end. Not-too-terrible dive, zero wander and slightly soft pedal.

Handling: Skidpad: Only a teeny bit to be gained with ESC off and suspension in "sport." Either way, just as understeer begins, throttle goes away. Very good steering feedback telling me available front tire grip. Non-defeat ESC w/slightly larger envelope with it "off." Slalom: Feels far more capable and sorted than results indicate. This doesn't feel like a limo, but hitting cones w/rear tires reminded me. Very good turn-in, good "set" a little slow in transition, but steering remains effective. ESC wouldn't allow oversteer at exit -- instead, seatbelt cinches and brakes start grabbing.

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2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: A Note From the Driver

February 18, 2011

The chauffeur1.jpg

The thing about driving from LA to Vegas is that it's boring. Really, really boring. When I go I prefer to take the 9-hour trip through Death Valley because the extra time is worth not being bored. But when there's a bachelor party to make and two guys ( one of them groom-to-be-Riswick ) not wanting to spend 9 hours making a 3-4 hour drive. So we took the highway.

Now, the other thing about these drives is that, with normal people, the fight is over who HAS to drive...when it's between me and James, it's who GETS to drive. I happened to plan the cars for this and had the keys to the Hyundai. Posession is 9/10ths. I win.

And so, that's me driving our Long Term Hyundai Equus to Vegas. That thing on the windshield...it...uh...scares deer.

Here's what you need to know about people: Dudes are jerks. We're essentially just big children who've figured out cooler / more dangerous ways to be annoying.

Here's what you need to know about the Hyundai Equus: Rear seat passengers have control over ALMOST EVERYTHING. So for the first, oh, hour, of driving the passenger seat kept moving (Yep, the chairman controls that), the radio refused to find a constant volume / channel / mode and the sunshades keep going up-down up-down up-down. There's a way to limit these functions, but when you're doing exactly the speed limit on a road full of cops, fiddling with the menu isn't the best idea.

But beyond that, the Equus was born for these horrible stretches of open highway. Power is impressive and the ride is comfortable without being floaty. There's a level of high-speed control you just don't find in a Lexus. And speaking of high-speed control, did you know in the Equus you can set the cruise control to over 110mph exactly 75 mph?

The stability of the Equus isn't just reserved for straight-line stuffs, when big trucks or confused old ladies got in the way, there was virtually never reason to use the brakes, just a quick flick of the wheel and the Equus was in the next lane as composed as can be. Sometimes I'd do this to avoid the aforementioned lost soul looking for penny slots, other times, just for fun if The Chairman was getting out of hand.

But the best part about the drive was the Equus' front seat. Sure, it gets a lot of points for fancy-pants rear seats, but the heated / cooled / massaging front seat is great. Not too soft, not too firm, it's just right and easy to get in a comfortable driving position (near vertical seatback, hands at +-10-and-2).

A random surprising bit: Not once did I, as the driver, say "huh" in response to something said by rear seat passengers. Maybe they yell a lot. Maybe my hearing is getting better. Whatever the reason, hearing rear-seat passengers from the driver seat was never a problem. ::shrug::

Mike Magrath, The Driver

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2011 Hyundai Equus: Dyno Test Video

February 10, 2011

Hey look what I found. A dyno test video of a 2011 Hyundai Equus that we tested last August. For some reason it's not hooked up to our full test of the car so figured not many people might have had the chance to see it. The Equus in the video is the Ultimate trim level four-seater (we have the 5-seater Signature) which has a rear-seat entertainment system, center console fridge, and heating/cooling/reclining bucket seats.

Our numbers were 321 hp @ 6,600 rpm and 291 lb-ft @ 4,950 rpm, compared to Hyundai's numbers of 385 @ 6,500 and 333 @ 3,500. You probably don't care about those but doesn't the car sound nice (00:42)?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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Past Long-Term Road Tests