2012 Hyundai Equus Expert Review

3.7 Overall Score
Performance 3.5 Comfort 4.1 Styling 3.8 Value 3.5

Editor's Overview

The Hyundai Equus may just be the perfect car for CEOs on a budget. The big Korean sedan offers ultra-lux amenities similar to those found in its German and Japanese rivals, but with a price starting around $60,000 it undercuts some competitors by tens of thousands of dollars.

You'll Like The 2012 Hyundai Equus If...

If you feel you've reached a point in your life were you deserve to be pampered, but a shaky economy has your conservative side flinching at the thought of dropping six digits of dollars on a luxury sedan, the 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan may be your salvation. With the Equus, you get all the luxury trappings of a premium European brand, plus Hyundai's "At Your Service" program that includes free maintenance for 5-years/60,000-miles.

You May Not Like The 2012 Hyundai Equus If...

While the 2012 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan's price may be right, the label is decidedly not designer. For those who place a premium on brand-name recognition, the Hyundai Equus nametag might not make the grade with the country club set.

What's New

The 2012 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan gains a new, gasoline direct-injection 5.0-liter V8 producing 429 horsepower and paired with an all-new in-house-built 8-speed automatic transmission. The Equus Ultimate gains power rear side-window sun shades.

Interior Features

Some cars, like the Maybach 62S, are far more fun to ride in than to drive. In the case of the 2012 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan, it's a 50/50 toss-up between the two choices. The Ultimate trim features executive-style rear seating for two, with wide, comfortable heated and cooling seats separated by a center console containing a refrigerator and controls for the flip-up rear-seat entertainment system. Even more impressive is the passenger-side rear seat that features a power-operated leg support, turning the 2012 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan into a mini first-class cabin. However, while we find this feature a nice touch, it really works better on a stretched wheelbase car, such as the Audi A8L, that allows plenty of room to extend long legs. A rear bench seat comes standard in the Signature trim level, which provides ample accommodation for three adults. No matter which Equus trim you choose, you'll find a car with sufficient headroom and legroom for everyone and an interior laced with rich, warm wood and fine leathers.

Exterior Features

In designing the 2012 Equus luxury sedan, it is clear that Hyundai took a page from the Lexus story book. Just as the first LS heavily resembled the Mercedes Benz it was gunning for, the Equus has several visual cues from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. From Mercedes, the 2012 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan gets it defining character arches and wide front grille, while BMW can be seen in the tail lights and Audi is in the LED Daytime Running Lights beneath the headlamps. Despite the similarities to other premium sedans, when all the styling elements are combined, the look actually works. The 2012 Hyundai Equus premium sedan doesn't look like any other Hyundai, which is enough to get it the attention it needs from the well-to-do car enthusiasts. Although it might have benefited from the fluid and flowing lines that make up the Sonata sedan, the 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan forgoes the family resemblance, relying instead on its pronounced wheel arches, oversized ribbed grille and high beltline to make its mark. Highly-styled 19-inch alloy wheels round out the Equus' exterior.

Driving Impressions

No one in the know will ever mistake the driving characteristics of the 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan with those of a BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but the average buyer probably won't notice much difference. The Equus cabin is amazingly quiet and its air suspension ride is modulated to eliminate road imperfections while still returning a slightly sporty feel on winding roads. The 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan holds the line very well in corners and is more than capable of reeling in its substantial weight on twisty roads. Steering feel is good and, though not as responsive as a 7 Series, it's a bit better than the Lexus LS, which is probably right about where Hyundai planners want the car to be.

Pricing Notes

The 2012 Hyundai Equus Signature starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just under $60,000. Stepping up to the Ultimate trim level brings the price just shy of $67,000, a number that's well under any of the 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan's competitors in the flagship sedan category. These competitors include the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. If you're looking to get the best deal on your Equus, be sure to check out kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price before going to the local Hyundai dealership. As far as resale value, the 2012 Hyundai Equus fares well against its competition, with projected values on par with its European rivals.

Notable Equipment

The 2012 Hyundai Equus Signature sedan, the "base" model in the Equus family, comes with a host of impressive standard features. The most notable include a 5.0-liter V8 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, electronically-controlled air suspension with damping control, a 608-watt Lexicon 7.1 Surround Sound system with 17 speakers, a navigation system, a 12-way power driver's seat with massage system, and heated and cooled front seats. Other touches include a dual automatic temperature control system and 60/40 power-reclining and heated rear seats.

Notable Options

There actually aren't any options available for the 2012 Hyundai Equus premium sedan, just the two trim levels. The upper-level Equus Ultimate model includes all the luxury features that come on the Signature Equus as well as a goldmine of upgrades, almost all of which are dedicated to turning the rear seats into a first-class experience. A 50/50-split cooled and reclining rear seat replaces the bench seat, making the Equus a four-seater, and the passenger-side rear seat adds leg support and a massage system. Other additions include a rear entertainment center with an 8-inch screen, a thermoelectric rear console refrigerator, a forward-view cornering camera and a power trunk lid.

Favorite Features

Power reclining rear seats

Who wouldn't love the ability to recline in a car with your feet up and watch a movie while someone else drives? The seat massagers are a nice touch as well.

Lexicon 7.1 Discrete Logic 7 surround sound system

While 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan's 17 speakers might seem like overkill, we applaud their superb sound quality, which completes the luxurious in-cabin experience.

Under the Hood

The 2012 Hyundai Equus is powered by a new gasoline direct-injection 5.0-liter V8 engine that's matched to Hyundai's own in-house 8-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual-shift control. In addition to providing smooth acceleration and enough power to scoot the large sedan to 60 mph in about six seconds, the potent V8 returns impressive highway mileage numbers on par with both the BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes S-Class.

5.0-liter V8

429 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm

376 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23

Editors' Notes

When Lexus launched it first luxury sedan, the European manufacturers and press scoffed at the idea of a Japanese luxury car. Five years later, those same manufacturers watched their customer bases defect in droves to the new luxury king. We hope both Lexus and the big German trio remember that day because, with the arrival of the 2012 Hyundai Equus, history may very well be set to repeat itself. The 2012 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan is the company's most ambitious project to date, a $60,000 ultra-luxury sedan that takes aim at cars costing tens of thousands more. But, while the Equus is filled with all the right features and has the looks to play in this league, the Hyundai badge may be its biggest liability. The Japanese learned long ago that if you're going to be in the premium market, you need a premium brand name. Don't think so? Just look at what became of the VW Phaeton. Only time will tell if a BMW driver will leave his 7 Series to walk into a showroom peppered with Accents and Sonatas. But, stranger things have happened and, in this time of tightening budgets, a car like the 2012 Hyundai Equus may very well become the new face of luxury in America.

Road Test Video Reviews

2012 Hyundai Equus Owner Reviews

6 Reviews
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Love my car and I am pain free and it drives like a dream!

2012 Hyundai Equus

Love the multiple adjusting power seats! Most comfortable ever! Takes regular gas on 8 cylinders! Smoothest ride of any car I have ever owned! Sad that it is no longer being made, but the genesis has replaced it. Even after all these years, valet people fight to park my car and I can never go anywhere that someone does not compliment me on its looks!

- Judith R

That the brand is really good. It last and does not give many problems.

2012 Hyundai Equus

It has everything and more. Luxury! Power everything, massage seats, heat and cooled seats, refrigerator in the back. Entertainment center. Reclining seats in back. Black out screens. Xm radio. Navigation. Sport package.

- Shelly Q

The smooth and comfortable ride.

2012 Hyundai Equus

It is has a nice exterior and interior color. It is large on the inside. It has a smooth ride. It has nice amenities.. No dislikes or complaints.

- tiffany d

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