2011 Hyundai Equus Review
This review was written when the 2011 Hyundai Equus was new.
The 2011 Hyundai Equus wows the automotive press with super luxury car features at a luxury large car price, but disappoints with interior materials and handling that aren’t quite up to snuff. Still, reviewers are impressed with the value. Autoblog says “the level of luxury for the price is completely unmatched.”
Hyundai has always been all about value, and now the automaker looks to challenge the luxury large car class with the Equus: a car that comes loaded to the hilt with features that could easily compete with super luxury cars. The Equus also boasts a cavernous interior, with a cabin that rivals the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Despite these attributes, the Equus fails to deliver a quality interior. The cabin is fitted with seemingly high-end materials such as wood, brushed aluminum and leather – even an Alcantara headliner – but reviewers note that the tactile feel of these surfaces does not seem to match that in cars made by Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Reviewer opinion is mixed on the Equus. Some think Hyundai’s new flagship is a phenomenal bargain, while say that it doesn’t meet luxury car standards.
Additionally, the Equus leaves something to be desired when it comes to performance. Its 4.6-liter V8 provides adequate power, but expect a ride that’s tuned more for comfort than sport sedan handling. A few reviewers also note that the brakes in the Equus felt spongy, while others offered varying opinions about the steering. Some say that the big Hyundai needs more power-assist, while another noted that the system felt less refined than the one found in the Lexus LS – a car that the Equus mimics.
Still, if you’re looking for an unparalleled value in the luxury large car class, desire a spacious interior loaded with tech gizmos and can do without sporty handling, the Equus may be your best bet.
Other Cars to Consider
The Equus is a unique option for buyers looking for a luxury large car with ample space and tech features. As Hyundai’s flagship sedan, most reviewers tend to compare the Equus to super luxury cars such as the Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. While these comparisons are valid for the value-minded super luxury shopper – if there is such a thing – the Equus undercuts the Lexus by $8,000 and the Benz by a whopping $33,000. And that’s before shoppers add options to these models to compete with the Equus’ long list of standard features. Because of this substantial savings, we’ll keep our comparisons to other luxury large cars.
With its spacious interior, large trunk and comfort-tuned suspension, the Cadillac DTS shares many of the Equus’ attributes. Plus, the DTS starts out at about $46,700, lower than the Equus by more than $11,000. But if you want to equip the DTS to a similar level as the Equus, you’ll have to opt for the nearly $55,000 Premium trim. And some features that come standard on the Equus, like heated rear seats, aren’t available on any trim levels of the DTS. Overall, the DTS is a good choice for buyers who want a luxury large car but balk at buying a Hyundai that costs more than a Cadillac.
Safety-minded shoppers willing to give up a little interior space and gain a slightly sportier ride would do well to check out the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Starting at right under $49,500, the E-class – like the DTS – is significantly cheaper than the Equus when you compare base models. However, the Equus’ long list of standard features once again narrows the gap for shoppers looking to compare similarly equipped models.
Shoppers would have to add Mercedes’s $4,000 Premium 1 Package and the nearly $3,000 for the Driver Assistance Package to the E350 in order to match the Equus in terms of interior tech. Those additions will bring the price of your E-Class north of $56,000 – a number that’s still less than the Equus’ price -- although Hyundai’s flagship is still arguably more car for the money. Still, Mercedes may win the hearts of some shoppers with its better interior materials and host of standard safety features. The E-Class also gets the nod from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who named it an IIHS “Top Safety Pick”.
Hyundai Equus: The Details
If you want to simplify the buying process, the 2011 Hyundai Equus may well be the car for you. Hyundai will sell an Equus without shoppers ever needing to set foot on a dealer lot. Rather, interested buyers can set up an appointment, where a sales consultant will bring an Equus to their home or office for a test drive and demonstration.
And the convenience doesn’t end there, as Equus owners will likely never need to set foot inside a Hyundai service department. The automaker has set up a valet service for all scheduled maintenance, providing vehicle pickup and return by a service technician who will leave either an Equus or Genesis sedan as a loaner vehicle. Additionally, all service can be scheduled through the iPad that comes standard with each new Equus.
Also unique to the Equus is the complete lack of any options, although two trim levels are available. At $58,000 the Signature trim provides virtually every comfort and convenience feature imaginable. Both front and rear seats are heated, while the front seats also offer ventilation, and a driver’s seat massage feature. In the dash, a Lexicon surround sound audio system with 17 speakers, XM and HD radio, navigation, iPod and Bluetooth connections and push button start offer all the convenience luxury shoppers want. A backup camera with front and rear parking sensors provide added reassurance during parking maneuvers, and all Equus models come with a sunroof and dual automatic climate controls.
Materials throughout the cabin include of wood and brushed aluminum, as well as leather seating and an Alcantara headliner. Although these materials seem first-rate, some reviewers have noted that higher quality is seen elsewhere, particularly in German rivals.
If the interior features of the Signature-trimmed Equus aren’t as decadent as you’d like, Hyundai will gladly try to gain your interest with the $64,500 Ultimate trim, where the rear seat accommodations get even more opulent. Opt for the Ultimate trim, and seating capacity down to four. Two ‘First Class’ seats are put in the rear, as well as luxurious features such as a DVD system, a refrigerator, and a right-rear seat that features massage and a power footrest that extends at the touch of a button. Ultimate models also gain ventilated rear seats and a front-view camera, which eases parking and narrow city street maneuvers.
- "It may be a bargain compared with an S-class, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the big Benz -- or any other premium flagship -- in cachet, sumptuousness, or dynamics. The Equus will have to overcome some serious obstacles and the image of its own brand to make headway with its intended audience. Still, with the high-tech sales and service, massive list of gadgets, and business-class back seat, Hyundai shouldn’t have any problem finding a couple thousand thrifty-minded (but not poor) buyers each year.” -- Car and Driver
- "The Equus is solidly engineered, remarkably quiet and indulgently comfortable, and that's on top of its exceptional feature content and relatively affordable price.” -- Edmunds
- "Personally, if I traded a BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, Mercedes S-Class or Jaguar XJ for this Hyundai, I’d cry myself to sleep at night. The tears would have less to do with brand prestige than with the Equus’s amorphous styling, unpersuasive interior and mild performance.” -- New York Times
- "I'm so Vulcanlike that I would rave about an excellent car if it came from Yugo. The product is its own entity, and this product is great. Unfortunately, American consumers aren't Vulcans (though apparently some are Kardashians), and they won't be flocking to buy a luxury car from Hyundai.” -- Cars.com