2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate
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  • 2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate
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Our 2011 Hyundai Equus long-termer continues to pile on the miles in the effortless fashion that one expects of a premium sedan. August's main outing was a weeklong stint in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, about 800 miles from Detroit. All-in, the trip accounted for over 2,000 miles, during which the Equus stretched its legs as a capable freeway cruiser and even was pressed into undignified service as a surfboard transport (see above). In case you're wondering, no, an eight-foot rental longboard won't fit in a luxury sedan (not in this or any other we can think of), so you'll be forced to do the shish-ka-windows-and-empty-side-road-creep with the hazard lights on if you don't have any alternatives.

With the exception of a modest bit of track time at Hyundai's Seoul proving grounds in a few prototypes, this was your author's first experience with the Equus. As one might expect, it acquits itself better over-the-road than on the track, delivering a comfortable ride and plush confines in which to while away the miles.

What was surprising for this driver was how much attention our Equus garnered – it's rather innocuously styled, after all. But we hadn't been driving further than our first rest stop when a couple of attractive twenty-something ladies stopped to ask about our car as we got out in the parking lot. "What is it?!" they gushed. "Believe it or not, it's a Hyundai," we answered. Puzzled looks. "Wait... really? Well... it's still really nice, though!" We laughed a little inside and moved on, but their reaction was telling – "It's still really nice, though!" is both a credit to what a pleasant surprise the Equus is for Hyundai, as well as a subtly backhanded ding at the company's "off the radar" standing among many consumers. The same rest area yielded a discussion with a very enthusiastic Genesis sedan owner, and subsequent conversations were held at stoplights with frantic arm-waving Toyota Avalon drivers and more random people in parking lots, including a BMW E60 5 Series owner fed up with his ownership experience. We have to admit, we viewed the Equus as something of a generic knockoff design-wise, but our conversations suggest that the general buying public doesn't feel the same way (or doesn't care).



We do have some nits to pick with our big white whale, however. Others have mentioned this, but it's worth pointing out again – the adjustable lumbar support seems to be in perpetual state of overinflation. No matter how much we tinker with the air bladder controls, it just feels too prominent on our lower backs. It's so uncomfortable that it's led to both your author and Editor-In-Chief Neff to ponder drastic, pin-shaped countermeasures. We wouldn't, of course, but it's still bothersome. The best solution for long-distance comfort seems to be extending the bottom cushion a bit longer than we normally might, as this somehow alleviates the stress.

Otherwise, the interior offers plenty of amenities and creature comforts, though the controls, finishes and design aesthetic lack the same sort of aura of refinement as rivals. Overall, our Equus Ultimate succeeds at feeling like a great value, but stops short of feeling like a great full-size luxury sedan. That's partially due to the interior and partially due to the 4.6-liter Tau V8. Its 385 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque certainly aren't anything to sneeze at, but this is 4,600-pound mass of Korean real estate, and it simply feels adequate. Other media outlets have tested the Equus and found 0-60 times in the mid-to-high six-second range, so it's certainly not slow, but the ECU and transmission tuning makes both off-the-line acceleration and highway passing feel more leisurely than we'd expect. More chutzpah isn't far off, thankfully – the 2012 model is widely expected to adopt the 5.0-liter V8 and eight-speed automatic gearbox recently introduced in the updated Genesis sedan.

Despite sustained higher speeds, traversing Pennsylvania's Alleghany mountains, negotiating a dead-stop traffic jam and a lot of pottering along in beach traffic, we averaged a solid 21 miles per gallon, smack in the middle of the 18/22 city/highway mix the EPA predicts. During that stint, we saw sustained freeway running with indicated mpgs in the mid-to-upper 20s without even trying, suggesting that it's likely quite easy to beat the Equus' official fuel economy estimates if you take it easier than we did.

A Word On Servicing
by Steven J. Ewing

Unlike our first encounter with the Equus At Your Service valet program, our most recent experience went off without any issue. We made the appointment with the Equus Apple iPad app, received a confirmation call and e-mail from the selected dealer (Glassman Hyundai in Southfield, Michigan), followed by another call the day before the service to confirm the time and what our loaner vehicle would be. The day of our service, the dealership kindly called to say that a representative was on the way, and about 15 minutes later, a service technician arrived and handed over the keys to a clean, detailed 2011 Hyundai Genesis sedan. A few hours later, the dealer called again, saying our car was ready, and that the vehicles would be swapped once more. Before returning the Equus to us, Glassman washed and vacuumed it. If this is the sort of service we (and other Equus buyers) can routinely expect, it goes a long way in bettering the overall ownership experience. –Steven J. Ewing


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 51 Comments
      adam1keith1980
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hyundai needs a new luxury brand and better designs for their luxury cars. I do not mind a conservative me-too looking luxury sedan like the Lexus LS or the Audi A8, but this one looks blatantly like all its competitors but fatter and a 90’s interior. Even the name was going to be VS 460. Are you kidding me? I said this before and I will say this again. Back in the late 80's, Toyota's Lexus LS 400 was a game changer because it was superior to all its competitors, and it was at a lower price! Today, the Hyundai Equus is cheaper, but worst, than its competitors. People who buy these cars care about image, even if they are cheap. The original Lexus LS says the owner could afford an S-class, but he chose a better car technically. The Hyundai Equus says the owner is cheap and could not afford a better car. Unlike Toyota, Hyundai doesn’t innovate. (I am not holding my breath for the next big innovation like the Prius and LFA from Hyundai.) However, Hyundai changes the game with pricing and value, but they failed this time with the Equus. If Hyundai were to be serious about entering the luxury market, they should have offered a car with Bentley, Maybach, and Roll-Royce quality (hand craft interiors), performance (500+ horsepower) and services (better than Lexus services, which is industry leading,) and unique design (Perhaps get Pininfarina to do the design) under a separate brand and retail network at E-class price. Hyundai can’t compete with price alone. There are many discounts with the Germans and Lexus right now. They needed a bolder plan because today's market is much more competitive than the one Lexus faced in the 1980's.
      Love Great Danes
      • 3 Years Ago
      what great styling remove the bow tie and add your own badge. Asian companies need to actually design something on their own!
      miketim1
      • 3 Years Ago
      I cant get to like this car.... I dont care how cheap it is... Its a blunt copy and I dont like it. Gimme the LS or S-Class.
      mogli
      • 3 Years Ago
      RE: surfboard Roll up windows to hold it in place and get on the road. Eight feet wide is legal everywhere in the US to my knowledge. Just hope you don't start gliding.
      LesPaul1
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't understand why everyone says this car is an amalgamation of other cars. It does not like a design ripoff of a benz or lexus. It has simple and plain lines of the mid to late 90s luxury cars. That plainness is good looking IMHO. Just because the grille slats are chrome doesn't mean Hyundai copied Mercedes Benz. I'm sorry if this car reminds you of other cars but that does not mean it copied other cars. For me, it does not look like any benz or lexus I've seen, past or present.
        autoqueen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @LesPaul1
        Hmm I think because it's a "Hyundai" a lot of people are just not that impressed. But in my opinion, the car looks luxurious in Hyundai's own ways. Compared to before, you see so much more Hyundai cars out on the road... and honestly they look nice and score above average performance wise.
      Will Petraska
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would easily pick this car over any of the "big name" luxury manufacturers. Absolutely gorgeous.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Helix
        • 3 Years Ago
        People aren't buying because the Equus doesn't sell very well, and it looks like a bunch of cars put together.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Helix
          [blocked]
          reattadudes
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Helix
          don't speak for everyone if you don't know what you're talking about. here in Arizona these cars fly off the lots. 95% of the trades are Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes Benz. Hyundai's sales figures show a runaway success. they are selling far more than their modest expectations, and the conquest sales are terrific.
          kontroll
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Helix
          he speaks to me, ergo he speaks to EVERYONE!!! moron, do you speak to everyone when you open your "mouth" on a blog??? You guys in arizona are at the end of the world, even a Yugo is something "special" for you guys
        black republican
        • 3 Years Ago
        The Equus can't even outsell the E class benz, let alone the S or 7. This piece of junk is AN AFFRONT to every S550 and LS460 driver there is. When I'm in my S550 and pass one of these, It makes me want to PUKE all over my leather. http://www.youtube.com/user/bigtruckseriesreview?feature=mhee
          Rob
          • 3 Years Ago
          @black republican
          The E class Benz outsells the S, 7, A8, LS460, and Equus combined and sorry to bust your bubble but your MB isn't the car it used to be as far as substanance and quality is concerned and neither is the Lexus LS .I hope you leased it
          desinerd1
          • 3 Years Ago
          @black republican
          S550 looks like a grandpa car from the 1950s. Every time I see one, I imagine a 80 year old mean leaning forward to see the road, driving 10 below speed limit.
          EvilTollMan
          • 3 Years Ago
          @black republican
          Yeah, and the guy in the equus is probably laughing at how much you paid for your MB
          • 3 Years Ago
          @black republican
          [blocked]
      S40Powered
      • 3 Years Ago
      @LesPaul1, are you serious? This car its a total rip-off of the MB S400. Just check: http://i.autoblog.com/photos/2010-mercedes-benz-s400-hybrid-review/
        • 3 Years Ago
        @S40Powered
        [blocked]
        • 3 Years Ago
        @S40Powered
        [blocked]
        • 3 Years Ago
        @S40Powered
        [blocked]
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Burabus
      • 3 Years Ago
      it doesn't have the design finesse needed for a luxury car.
      CarCrazy24
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm impressed with their service valet program...if done correctly it can really add a lot of appeal to new or prospective luxury car buyers!
      creamwobbly
      • 3 Years Ago
      "the Equus stretched its legs as a capable freeway cruiser" So it has wheels and an engine, and it didn't fall to bits? They really *have* come a long way...
        Bruce Lee
        • 3 Years Ago
        @creamwobbly
        The funny thing is that virtually any large car is going to be decent on the freeway in just from the laws of physics-once you get them up to speed they have momentum and their larger masses don't get tossed around by wind or passing trucks as badly as small cars. What makes a large car a truly great cruiser is that it has to be comfortable for long distances cruising on the highway. So I find it particularly odd that they'd simultaneously find the seats uncomfortable and adjustment requiring (one of my least favorite things is when I'm trapped in an uncomfortable seat for a long drive-happens to me most of the time when renting by size class only) but claim that it makes for a good cruiser.
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