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2011 Hyundai Equus: Is Luxury Defined by Brand?

2011 Hyundai Equus

During my week with the 2011 Hyundai Equus, I was curious what others thought of it. The Equus comes in two trim levels that are loaded with standard features, but no options. Our base Signature model came with nearly every bell and whistle imaginable.

I was pulling into a Georgetown garage when a construction worker yelled, “I’ve seen that thing in the garage, how much does it cost?” When I told him it was $58,000 and showed him the well-appointed interior and power-adjustable rear seats with separate climate and entertainment controls, he was impressed – even more so after I told him it was a Hyundai. “I might have to borrow some money and get me one of these,” he said.

2011 Hyundai Equus

My girlfriend’s stepmother, Lissa, was a tougher sell. She was curious about the car when I picked her up at Regan National Airport, saying that it looked just like a Lexus, but lost some confidence when I told her it was Hyundai’s flagship sedan.

“I just don’t know if I could spend that much on a Hyundai,” she said. Lissa’s concern about brand awareness may be why automakers like Honda and Nissan have Acura and Infiniti as their luxury marques, but by her trip’s end, the Equus had grown on her. “This is a nice car,” she said as she turned on her unsuspecting husband’s heated rear seat.

2011 Hyundai Equus Interior

Is luxury defined by brand? If so, the Equus bucks the trend since it’s offered alongside affordable small cars like the Hyundai Accent. Still, it’s basically the same size as a Mercedes-Benz S550, and offers comparable power and fuel economy with more standard features, a longer warranty and a significantly lower price. If you had $58,000 to spend on a new car, would the Equus be on your short list?

Shopping for a luxury large car? Check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars. Then, look for a great deal on a new car by checking out this month’s best car deals. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

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