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Dealers Stock Hyundai Equus to Gauge Customer Reaction

After the success of the Hyundai Genesis, the South Korean automaker may be looking to bring over its Mercedes-Benz S-Class competitor, the Hyundai Equus.

The Genesis has proved mightily impressive — enough so, it managed to capture the 2009 Car of the Year title. The Genesis might be Hyundai’s flagship in North America, but it competes with most luxury marques’ mid-level sedans overseas. To tangle with the premium models, Hyundai sells the Equus only in select Asian markets — at least for now.

We first learned of Hyundai’s interest in bringing the Equus stateside at the 2009 New York auto show, when the automaker placed the flagship on the stand to gauge consumers’ reactions. Hyundai hopes to do the same this summer, as it’s bringing 100 examples to the U.S. to place in dealer showrooms and gauge customer interest.

The potential North American flagship looks like a more sculpted Lexus LS, with a bit of Mercedes-Benz seen in the front fascia. The Equus also has features seen on the high-priced über-sedans, including an available rear seat with both massage and power leg-rest functions.

While the Equus might be able to compete with content and interior quality, it will lag behind the other competitors in offering a premium powertrain. The Equus is powered by Hyundai’s 4.6-liter “Tau” V-8, which also appears in the current Genesis sedan. The engine isn’t lacking power (it does produce 375 hp), but the lack of a premium offering — a V-12, for example — may cause potential buyers to opt not to purchase.

Hyundai has pried sales from away from both Lexus and BMW with the Genesis, but convincing a person looking for a large luxury sedan to buy a Hyundai could be “a stronger challenge,” according to Alexander Edwards, CEO of Strategic Vision. With a starting price of around $75,000, Hyundai might stand a chance against the big boys.

Source: USA Today

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Buying Guide

2009 Hyundai Sonata

Fair Market Price $7,399 GLS (Auto) Sedan

0-60 MPH:

8.7 SECS

EPA MPG:

22 City / 32 Hwy

Safety (IIHS):

Good