2011 Hyundai Equus Signature

The Equus is a very impressive effort from Hyundai, even if it’s not quite in the same league (yet) as the 7-series, S-class, A8, and LS. Then again, it’s not in the same league pricewise, either, undercutting the base stickers of the aforementioned cars by anywhere from $6000 (base Lexus LS460) to a whopping $35,000 (Mercedes S550).

The interior is very spacious and is covered in supple leather that is quite pleasing to the touch. All the luxury cues are in place, from a 17-speaker stereo system to a suede headliner to a heated and cooled massaging driver’s seat and a heated steering wheel. Not to mention lots of other driver’s-assistance features such as a rearview camera, active cruise control, and lane-departure warning. And that’s the “base” Equus. Spend an extra $6500, and you’ll get things like reclining rear seats with a leg rest and a massage function, a rear-seat entertainment system, and a forward-view cornering camera.

Driving the Equus is more reminiscent of the Lexus LS than the 7-series or the S-class. It’s not exciting but it’s very capable and has a refined, almost sedate manner that wafts the driver and passengers along in supreme comfort.

The only obstacle I see is that the perception of Hyundai in America is still that of a bargain brand. To use a bad analogy, it’s like Sears trying to compete with Neiman Marcus. People who know cars know that Hyundai builds some very compelling vehicles, such as the Sonata, the Elantra, and the Genesis. But I can’t help but think about a recent letter to the editor that we received, in which a reader complained that we’ve heaped too much praise on Hyundai’s cars. In his words, they are “mediocre cars that lose 95 percent of their retail value as soon as they leave the lot” and that they are “cheaply made.” It’ll take some time to change that perception.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing 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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