2011 Hyundai Equus Signature

I agree with Joe that this car presses many of the luxury car “buttons,” but to me it still falls short on the more subjective, emotional aspects of the luxury car experience. Most premium cars offer a cohesive styling message and a sense of occasion. The styling here is generic, which should not be confused with conservative. The interior similarly lacks any flair or artfulness, even if the materials are all very good and the telematics are superior to what you’ll find in most European cars.

Climb into a Jaguar XF, an Audi A6, a Mercedes-Benz E550, or an Infiniti M56 (all competitors to the Equus in terms of price, if not size) and you get all the doodads and an undeniable sense that you’re in something superior to the common car. Even the Lexus LS, Hyundai’s clear bogey and by no means an enthusiast’s car, is a different animal. That car has, over the past two decades, earned a reputation for perfection. Not high quality, not 90 percent of the content for 60 percent of the price. Perfection. I don’t yet get that sense from the Equus.

Is all this a cop-out? Perhaps. The Equus is clearly a very good car -- comfortable, feature-packed, and good to drive in the same effortless way that the LS and the Mercedes S-class are good to drive. The person who’s able to overlook my right-brained concerns and buy an Equus will surely be very pleased with their purchase on a day-to-day basis. And yet, I suspect most customers in this price range want more than cool, quiet competence. After all, $60,000 may not be $90,000, but it’s still a lot of money -- way more than one needs to spend to get a quiet, comfortable, luxurious automobile. That’s why Hyundai’s commendable strategy of offering more for less, which has worked flawlessly with the $15,000 Elantra, $20,000 Sonata, and $35,000 Genesis, doesn’t quite work here. At least not yet.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

@Daye.You might be right. It's meant to target the 7-Series and LS-series, but aside from being cheaper, it still is somewhat below both of them in interior refinement and ride quality.Not a bad car overall, but with the economy recovering, the Equus is just going to be a halo emitter for the rest of the Hyundai brand. 3,000 units/year is their target I believe. Those 3,000 are probably coming from people who are used to paying $40,000-50,000 for their cars, but wouldn't mind spending a bit more for an Equus. Get an new experience from an all-new brand. Why not?
The Equus may not be in the same league as a BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but it stands alone when you compare Hyundai to Acura, Chrysler, Lincoln, or Cadillac, which don't even offer a car like this. I think their owners are the real target of this car, not people who can afford a BMW or Audi.

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