Aiming Even Higher
The 2008 introduction of the Genesis sedan has been the exclamation point on Hyundai's rapid ascension from bargain brand to mainstream automaker. Now, the company is continuing its ambitious march forward with the bigger, pricier, and more luxurious 2011 Hyundai Equus. The philosophy and the competitive targets of the Equus aren't far from those of the Genesis-they're simply one size larger. Rather than aiming for a Mercedes-Benz E-class or a BMW 5-series, think S-class and 7-series.
The Equus will utilize the same 4.6-liter V-8-producing 385 hp and 333 lb-ft of torque on premium gasoline-found under the hood of the Genesis. Although it doesn't have the most potent engine in its class, the Equus has more power than many others in the segment. Thrust is hearty from anywhere on the tachometer, and Hyundai claims 6.4-second 0-to-60-mph capability. In more relaxed driving, the engine and the six-speed transmission are smooth and in sync.
Electronically controlled air springs and dampers allow the driver to select a firmer, sportier setting or stay with the standard, comfort-oriented suspension stiffness. Whatever the setting, though, the chassis feels neither as composed nor as comfortable as those of its competitors. Around a small handling course at Hyundai's South Korea R&D center, the Equus exhibited an extreme propensity to understeer and revealed handling capability far below that of a comparable BMW or Benz. The steering is also troubling, with artificial and lagging power assist from the electrically driven hydraulic pump.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $55,000 (est.)
Specs: 4.6-liter V-8, 385 hp, 333 lb-ft; rear-wheel drive
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Hyundai ambitiously moves into another premium segment, but the Equus falls short of what we've come to expect.