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Aaron Gold

Test drive: 2012 Hyundai Equus

By February 14, 2012

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2012 Hyundai Equus

Hyundai introduced their luxury flagship, the Equus, as a 2011 model, and this year they've given it a new engine. On the surface, the Equus has all the qualities we expect from Hyundai: High content, low price, and excellent execution -- a formula that works well in their non-luxury offerings. But once you decide to take on big boys like Mercedes, BMW and Audi, things get a whole lot tougher -- so is Hyundai up to the challenge? Maybe not. Find out how the Equus stacks up -- and where it stumbles -- in my 2012 Hyundai Equus review. -- Aaron Gold

Related: 2012 Hyundai Equus photo gallery

Photo Aaron Gold

Comments
February 14, 2012 at 6:32 am
(1) Eric says:

Your assessment of the Equus is pretty much spot on, Aaron. I think the overriding question is not whether or not this is a good car; it certainly seems to do everything that its rivals do, and at least as well. I think it’s more a matter of how it competes with its rivals. In this respect, as you pointed out, it lacks in a several areas. First is design; it is as bland and boring to look at as any Lexus, and could probably be mistaken for one by the untrained eye. It also doesn’t offer anything more than a Lexus, or any other Luxury make for that matter. Its closest competitors are probably Buick, Lincoln, and Acura moreso than Lexus, BMW and Mercedes. It also doesn’t have the history or image of the latter three, real or imagined. Whether anyone else agrees with me or not (and it’s irrelevant if you do or not), those three Makes have been synonymous with luxury, quality and performance for decades. Hyundai has been synonymous with cheap, marginal quality basic transportation until only very recently. I know that I, for one, would never spend $60K on a Hyundai, even if I could afford it, just like I’ll never spend that much on a Chrysler. Both have improved dramatically in recent years, but, it will take a long time for each to overcome their past.

February 14, 2012 at 8:20 am
(2) DaviD says:

Spoken like a true “labels” person. This car I have driven and without a doubt will have all the nay sayers a little anxious. I’ve driven Mercedes that didn’t come close.The Equus actually proves how over priced some of these cars really are. Maybe they do lack a little in the design department at this point, but let’s not think they have to be around for 75 years to “get it”. Just ask Sears or Kodak about that one.

February 14, 2012 at 8:58 am
(3) Brian says:

Interesting you said those looking at this car should also look at A6, BMW 5, E-Class when based on the features and apparent size of the Equus, Hyundai is aiming for the A8, 7-series, S-Class market. If you add that option package, maybe even the “L” version of the first two. Question is how will/should they market it?

February 14, 2012 at 9:20 am
(4) Glenn Q. says:

I think the most glaring weakness of the Equus is it’s lack of identity, and I don’t mean in the class…I mean in it’s own family. It really does just look like a Genesis XL. Sure, it offers more features than its smaller sibling, but that’s really what the extra price tag covers. Cars like the S-class, 7-series, A8, LS, M56, etc., all have a much different style and identity than the E-class, 5-series, A6, GS, and G37, respectively. Instead, the Equus comes across more like the VW Phaeton did, looking like a fattened up, stretched out, tarted up version of a smaller/cheaper car (visually channeling the Passat, in VW’s case), that doesn’t really fit in with the big boys using the valet. It’s like the young millionaire who shows up at a black tie event wearing a t-shirt and jeans.

Unless they drastically restyle the Equus next year (even mid-year might be necessary) to seperate it from the Genesis, it will undoubtedly suffer the same fate as the Phaeton did on our shores…gone before it even had the chance to catch its stride, and resale values plummeting at astronomical rates. Good news for used car buyers, I guess.

February 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm
(5) Mike in Minn says:

I wonder how long until we see a 2012 Azera review. That car might be a little more exciting.

February 14, 2012 at 4:59 pm
(6) Hawaiian Don says:

Having driven an Equus and spent considerable time in the Genesis, there is no way that I would spring for an Equus. It has no cache, no status as a luxury car. Oddly enough, Genesis does and it drives great, handles really well and a fully loaded one is in the mid 40′s. What is the purpose of the Equus? For me…there isn’t one.

February 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm
(7) Matt B. says:

If Hyundai wants to be taken seriously as a luxury car maker then they need to do what Toyota did and start a separate Luxury brand. If they can restyle this car with a much sharper and original skin and remove the Hyundai badges then I think they will have a chance. Even rich people care about savings the money.

February 15, 2012 at 12:07 am
(8) Jeff R. says:

I’d like to nominate the following for ‘best line in a car review’ of the year:

The Equus’ air suspension is tuned for an old-school-Korean ride: It’s as soft and pillowy as a 1978 Lincoln, and it cruises so quietly that you could plow right though the middle of an AC/DC concert and never realize anything was amiss until you got home and found the bloody remains of a leather bustier hanging from the exhaust pipe.

On second thought, best line ever, period!

February 15, 2012 at 10:33 am
(9) Mike in Minn says:

I’ll second that motion! Pure wonderfulness. :)

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