Road Test: Hyundai Equus, truly luxe

The 2012 Hyundai Equus has a 5.0-liter V-8 The 2012 Hyundai Equus has a 5.0-liter V-8 that makes a stout 429 horsepower. Photo Credit: Handout

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Psst: Wanna know how to get a $100,000 executive sedan for 40 percent off? Buy a Hyundai. More specifically, buy a Hyundai Equus.

Go on. Take a second to recompose yourself.

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    If you have even a passing interest in cars, you probably already know that the Korean automaker has been on a roll for a few years now, making cars that provide great value, good fuel economy and pretty looks.

    The Equus is Hyundai's first U.S. entry into the true luxury landscape, meant to take on cars such as the Mercedes-Benz S Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8.

    The Equus comes in two versions, the base Signature edition like the one I drove over a week, or an even more option-laden one called, appropriately enough, Ultimate.

    The Hyundai Equus has a 5.0-liter V-8 that makes a stout 429 horsepower. Photo Credit: Handout

    Both are rear-wheel-drive and feature the same engine, a 5.0-liter V-8 that makes a stout 429 horsepower. The car now features an eight-speed automatic transmission, vs. the six-speed one on the 2011 car.

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    But it's inside where the big Equus truly shines. Think leather, wood and technology.

    Yes, this is a Hyundai that drips with luxury. Had I not already experienced more than a brush of this in the Genesis, I wouldn't believe it myself.

    But there I was, sitting in an incredibly plush seat that, in addition to featuring 12 directions for the perfect fit and heating and cooling to keep my backside at a comfortable temperature, offers a massaging function.

    A big navigation screen and a quasi-complicated rotary dial that acts as your master control are standard. Heated steering wheel? Check. Classy, center-mounted analog clock? It's there. And let's not forget the Lexicon sound system.

    The Equus is big and roomy, yet for its girth, surprisingly easy to maneuver. As a driver, I appreciated the Equus. But part of me was hard-pressed to find that thing about it that would make it really worth $20,000-plus over the Genesis.

    Then I sat in the backseat.

    This is a car that makes for a superb chauffeur's vehicle. The back, which can be outfitted with three or two seats, is as cavernous and well-appointed as a private jet.

    Hyundai management says it doesn't expect Equus models to sell like hotcakes. But what Hyundai does have going for it is another automotive precedent, a successful one from its own stable: the Genesis.

    Like that car, with the Equus Hyundai has proved it can not only be a player in a whole new league, but a true competitor.

     

    Hyundai Equus Signature

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    Base price, with destination: $59,650

    Price as equipped: $59,650

    Type: Four- or five-passenger, rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan

    Engine: (2012 specs): 5.0-liter V-8

    Power: 429 horsepower, 376 pound-foot torque

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    EPA fuel economy rating: 15 mpg city/23 highway

    The bottom line: Superb fit and finish, plush accommodations, roomy, fuel economy. But are you willing to spend $60,000 on a Hyundai?

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