2012 Hyundai Equus Review

Pros & Cons

  • Enormous list of standard features
  • presidential-size backseat
  • supremely quiet
  • serene ride
  • phenomenal sound system
  • low price for the segment.
  • Interior quality and driving experience don't match those of rivals
  • disappointing braking distances
  • all-wheel drive not offered.
Other years
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List Price Estimate
$10,028 - $15,630

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2012 Hyundai Equus' comprehensive features, comfort and affordable price make it one of the most compelling contenders in the class of large luxury sedans.

Vehicle overview

Just a few years ago, the idea of Hyundai launching a full-size premium luxury sedan in America seemed whimsical. Yet the 2012 Hyundai Equus, with its refined manners and notable value, will likely make you a believer.

The Equus carries over into 2012 largely unchanged. There's still a wholesale list of standard features and interior refinement on par with the best from Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. But there are two welcome changes for this year's Equus: a new 5.0-liter V8 engine and an eight-speed transmission. The former makes more power than nearly every other V8 from the German and Japanese rivals, and the new transmission helps the 429-horsepower V8 achieve 18 mpg in combined driving.

Inside you'll find creature comforts and tech that includes a massaging driver seat, adaptive cruise control, a 17-speaker sound system and even a rear passenger footrest. It's enough to make the Hyundai Equus a legitimate challenger to similarly priced (but smaller) luxury cars like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, as well as similarly sized (but pricier) flagship sedans like the BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes S-Class.

Against the flagships, the Equus does come up short in a couple areas. The quality of the interior materials, for instance, isn't as high, and the V8, even though it's more powerful this year, still doesn't quite provide the low-end muscle that's often expected for this class of car. Some other shoppers might be put off by its bland styling. Still, the Equus represents a high water mark for Hyundai. Whatever it may lack is made up for with solid engineering, comfortable indulgence and an earthly price. You don't normally buy a Hyundai to impress your friends, but that just might happen with the 2012 Hyundai Equus.

2012 Hyundai Equus models

The 2012 Hyundai Equus is a large luxury sedan available in Signature and Ultimate trim levels. The Signature seats five and includes 19-inch wheels, an adjustable air suspension with adaptive dampers, a lane-departure warning system, adaptive cruise control, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, a windshield wiper de-icer, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, a sunroof and keyless ignition/entry.

Within the plush cabin you'll find dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated front seats (12-way driver, 10-way passenger) with driver massage and memory functions, a heated and power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, wood and aluminum accents, a microfiber faux-suede headliner, heated and reclining rear seats, rear-seat audio and climate controls, a power rear window shade and manual rear side window shades. In terms of electronics, the Equus comes standard with a navigation system with real-time traffic, Bluetooth and a 17-speaker Lexicon surround-sound system with an iPod interface, satellite radio and six-CD changer.

The Equus Ultimate seats four, as the rear bench is replaced with a pair of reclining bucket seats with heating/cooling/massaging functions and a passenger-side power footrest. A rear center console includes storage bins, a mini refrigerator and separate controls for the climate and rear seat DVD entertainment systems. A power trunk lid, power rear side window shades and a forward-view cornering camera are also included with the Ultimate.

2012 Highlights

For 2012, the Hyundai Equus gets a new 5.0-liter V8 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Power rear side-window shades now come standard on the Ultimate.

Performance & mpg

The rear-wheel-drive 2012 Hyundai Equus comes standard with a 5.0-liter V8 making 429 hp and 376 pound-feet of torque. A new eight-speed automatic transmission is also standard. According to EPA estimates, the Equus returns 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.

In Edmunds performance testing, the Equus went from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, which is average for a V8-powered luxury sedan.


The 2012 Hyundai Equus comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock brakes, active front head restraints, a lane-departure warning system, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a driver-side knee airbag, front and rear side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the Equus came to a stop from 60 mph in 131 feet, which is about 10 feet longer than average.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Equus its highest rating of "Good" in frontal-offset and side-impact crash testing, as well as roof strength tests.


Silence. That's one of the first things you notice after taking the wheel of the 2012 Hyundai Equus. At idle, it's about as quiet as a hybrid with the engine shut off. Things aren't much louder once underway, with the engine just a whisper and only a slight tire howl from the four corners. Still, the Equus isn't some sleepy-handling limousine. It floats a bit in default suspension mode, but hit the Sport dynamic button and the Equus firms up over bumps and road irregularities. It doesn't have the speed or reflexes of luxo-sport sedans like the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series or Jaguar XJ, but the Equus remains stable and predictable when pushed.

While rated power from the new 5.0-liter V8 meets or beats most of the competition, the Equus still lacks the low-end thrust of the German flagship nobility. It's one of the few traits that keeps the Equus from the ranks of elite luxury sedans. But if history is any indicator, this may be a short-lived deficiency.


The Equus quiets skeptics by packing nearly every luxury and convenience found in other premium-badged cars and wrapping them in a first-class design. Interior quality does fall short of the high-end cabins of flagship luxury sedans, but is every bit as good as that of less expensive Acura or Infiniti cabins. One minor question mark is durability; we've noticed stretched and sagging leather seat upholstery in an Equus test car of ours with fewer than 20,000 miles on the meter.

Overall interior room is quite impressive, and both front and rear passengers are treated to sky-high levels of comfort. For the full VIP experience, we recommend the Equus Ultimate for its unique four-passenger configuration. The extending La-Z-Boy footrest will impress your friends, but it isn't really long enough for most full-size adults to enjoy. In terms of trunk space, the Equus is pretty respectable, with 16.7 cubic feet available.

The Equus features a knob-based multimedia controller that operates the navigation, climate, vehicle and entertainment systems (there are also simple, redundant climate controls in the center stack). Overall, it works OK, with certain tasks like Bluetooth phone pairing made particularly painless. However, commonly used functions like selecting a radio preset or controlling your iPod take too much effort. This is a shame, since the Lexicon sound system is one of the best available in any car, period.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Hyundai Equus.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Equus - 2012 with a bigger engine
Just got my 2012 Equus yesterday. I was on a waiting list. I am a little skeptical of reviewers who got it weeks ago - how did they get the car when mine was one of the first off the boat from Korea? Anyways, the car, after 2 days is a lot of fun and seems to be a great value. It rides a little on the soft side, but with the new, more powerful engine, its acceleration is strong. Its exceedingly quiet, roomy, comfortable, and has a long list of features. The promised support seems to be very nice - time will tell if that turns out to be truth or hype. In short, if you are looking for a luxurious ride, don't need to impress anyone , and want to save big $$, this is worth a look.
Top of the line luxury at a fraction of the cost
I traded in my BMW 745i for the 2011 Hyundai Signature Series Equus, and apart from some irritating aspects of the i-pod and navigation systems, I'm delighted with the smooth, comfortable, QUIET! ride of this luxury ride. To boot, I get 27+ mpg on the highway and 20 mpg overall using regular gas, and the valet service, where the Hyundai dealer delivers a loaner Equus to my house when picking up mine for service is a major plus. The exterior will remind you of the top of the line Lexus, and the interior is similar to the S600 series Benz (the suede like head liner, analog clock in the dash, etc.). Compare sticker prices with the competition and you'll be astounded at the savings.
Most Enjoyable Car I Ever Owned!!
Very luxurious vehicle. Solid smooth ride. Floats on the highway like being in a cloud. I fell safe, encapsulated from the noisy world, and most of all, feel extremely pampered from the moment I step inside. Very quick for a big sedan. Great displayes, comfy seats, and intuitive navi systems. All luxury features in competing car manufacturers are here, but for less money. But, let us be real: $60K is still alot of money. But, nice things cost money. However, the value for dollar is stronger in this product than the others. Also, there is some exclusivity. Most people are still eyeing the equus. Everyone (and their mother) have BMWs and the like. Be different! Stand out! Enjoy the ride.
Defective engine
Signature 4dr Sedan (5.0L 8cyl 8A)
At little over a year, performance and gas mileage began to deteriorate. Next, an engine knocking became increasingly loud.no check engine or oil pressure light warning. Dealer found oil 3 quarts low-- suspect that the engine had already been damaged..on investigation, this is a systemic problem which Hyundai Equus and Genesis with the same engine share. Hyundai does not appear ready to own up to the defective engine which occurred with the higher horse powered 2012. Major blow in their aspirations to compete as a luxury brand update: they have pulled the plug on the Equus brand;won't fix hardware breakage under warranty Update :after lots of aggravation they finally replaced engine and it been a good car with bad service

Features & Specs

15 city / 23 hwy
Seats 5
8-speed shiftable automatic
429 hp @ 6400 rpm
15 city / 23 hwy
Seats 4
8-speed shiftable automatic
429 hp @ 6400 rpm
See all Used 2012 Hyundai Equus features & specs


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2012 Hyundai Equus

Used 2012 Hyundai Equus Overview

The Used 2012 Hyundai Equus is offered in the following submodels: Equus Sedan. Available styles include Signature 4dr Sedan (5.0L 8cyl 8A), and Ultimate 4dr Sedan (5.0L 8cyl 8A).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Hyundai Equus?

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Which used 2012 Hyundai Equuses are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 2012 Hyundai Equus?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Hyundai lease specials
Check out Hyundai Equus lease specials