2011 Hyundai Equus Signature

That we immediately mention the likes of the BMW 7-series, Mercedes-Benz S-class, and Lexus LS when discussing the Equus should indicate how impressive Hyundai’s flagship truly is. That said, the more-for-less approach that underpins Hyundai’s rapid ascension in the automotive industry may not prove as successful in a segment where cost is typically no object to buyers.

It will, however, force other automakers -- particularly those headquartered in America -- to take a second look at their premium luxury offerings. If, as David opines, the LS is utter perfection, the Equus is close behind, and at roughly the same price as a Cadillac DTS Premium.

The difference between a $55,000 Hyundai and a $54,000 Cadillac is far more than a cool $1000. The Equus is a suave, sophisticated offering, and feels both modern and substantial. The 4.6-liter V-8 is an impressively strong engine (I’d argue there’s no need for anything larger, like the new direct-injection 5.0-liter V-8 now offered in the Genesis R-Spec), and the eight-speed automatic is surprisingly refined. Ride quality is not wallowy, but the Equus errs on the side of supple. It is, however, devoid of the inevitable understeer found in the front-wheel-drive DTS, and feels slightly crisper than Chrysler’s revised rear-wheel-drive 300.

The Equus could, however, be mistaken for something much more expensive, especially in the cabin. Ignore the unusual logo on the steering wheel and the cheesy splash screen displayed upon starting the vehicle, and it’s easy to mistake the car for a Lexus LS. Fit and finish are quite impressive, and materials do feel a few steps above those used in the Genesis. Rear seat passengers are treated not only to a substantial amount of head, leg, and shoulder room, but several amenities -- including heated outboard positions, audio/visual controls, and manipulation of the front passenger’s seat -- that treat them like royalty.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web 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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