2012 Hyundai Equus
To hear Hyundai tell it, the company stumbled on something of a hit with the Equus. According to the automaker, the vehicle didn't just waltz past sales projections. It crushed them. Last year, 3,193 Equus models went home to loving families, and while that's not a huge number by any stretch of the imagination, the figure is well better than the 2,000 units Hyundai expected to sell. It was also good enough to snag the company a 5.7-percent share of the premium luxury sedan segment in 2011. So, how does the Korean automaker plan to build on this early Equus momentum? By adding power, of course.
For 2012, the Equus packs the same 5.0-liter V8 engine found in the Genesis Sedan R-Spec as well as a new eight-speed automatic transmission that helps keep fuel economy in check. With a few interior tweaks thrown in for good measure and the same gamut of standard equipment, the Equus continues to be a great reason to give the old stalwarts of luxury a second thought.
Despite the significant mechanical revision, the 2012 Hyundai Equus remains identical to its predecessor outside. The vehicle still wears a proud grille, LED-trimmed headlights and a suitably massive Equus badge on the hood. Even the 19-inch chrome wheels are carryovers from 2011. Still, that's no surprise. The Equus is barely more than two years old, and while the exterior aesthetics aren't likely to wow anyone, we doubt buyers count pupil-dilating styling among reasons to bring the Korean luxury barge home at the end of the day.
At its core, the Equus remains an amazing luxury bargain, and that hasn't changed indoors. Our "base" tester carried an MSRP of $58,750 with destination and included an embarrassing wealth of equipment. With technology like parking assist, smart cruise control and a 7.1-speaker Lexicon sound system to comfort tricks like a 12-way power adjustable massaging driver's seat and automatic dual-temperature control, the Equus isn't found wanting for standard gear.
Engineers did take the time to give the interior a once-over with slight adjustments. The front seats now boast a more comfortable head rest design as well as improved ventilation. Likewise, the rear bench now features a softer center cushion on five-seat models. Otherwise, the gauges, dash and center stack all remain unaltered for 2012.
Pop the hood, and the story changes, however. The 2011 Equus was forced to lug around up to 4,600 pounds with a 385-horsepower 4.6-liter V8. While the engine was perfectly adequate for quietly floating around town, it wasn't exactly capable of producing eye-widening acceleration. Hyundai upped the ante for 2012 with the same 5.0-liter V8 found in the nose of the Genesis Sedan R-Spec. The engine is good for a full 429 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 376 pound-feet of torque at a similarly lofty 5,000 rpm. Needless to say, the V8 is happiest in its upper octaves where speed piles on quickly.
Despite an additional 44 horses, the 2012 Equus manages to return an EPA-estimated 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. The numbers are just one mile per gallon worse than last year's model in both categories, thanks in no small part to the new eight-speed automatic bolted behind the engine.
As you'd expect, the 2012 Equus is a good bit quicker than its forbear. On the road, the vehicle now feels capable instead of merely adequate. Bury a right foot in the throttle, let the engine pull past 6,000 rpm and the bruiser bolts down your lane of choice with authority. Unfortunately, the new thrust isn't paired with any suspension or steering revisions. Expect to endure the same spiritless steering feel and overly soft suspension, even in Sport mode.
Fortunately, the eight-speed automatic transmission is as smooth in this application as it is in the Genesis R-Spec. The gearbox clicks through cogs seamlessly, keeping the engine breathing easy under the hood. Likewise, the shift logic is excellent. Get frisky with the accelerator and the transmission will jump down to the appropriate gear and hold until redline before shifting. It's the right kind of perfect.
With a new drivetrain, it's hard to find an argument against the Equus. Competitors like the Lexus LS460, BMW 750i and Audi A8 all land with price tags thousands of dollars higher than the Equus with less equipment. While the cabin isn't as refined as some of the high-dollar German luxury rides on the market, the model still carries an unsurpassed warranty for the segment wrapped in an attractive, if not conservative, exterior. If badge appeal isn't on the top of your priority list, park the Equus in your garage and enjoy rolling around on a mattress stuffed with the cash you saved.
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