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|2012 Hyundai Equus Signature Review & Test Drive||
When Hyundai entered into the premium full-size luxury spectrum with the Equus in 2011, many were skeptical. What was mostly uncertain was the idea that a Korean luxury vehicle could rival the likings of the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S Class and even the Audi A8. The new 2012 Hyundai Equus continues to surprise the full-sized luxury car segment when pitted against what the best of the mainstream luxury car market has to offer.
My first impressions of the new 2012 Hyundai Equus, remaining mostly unchanged with the exception of an added rear sunshade, 5.0-liter V8 engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission (replacing the outgoing 4.6-liter V8 and 6-speed automatic transmission), reminds me of the Lexus LS just one generation ago. Hyundai has followed a path much like Toyota and Lexus in gaining its new-found recognition and surprising reliability. The new 2012 Hyundai Equus builds off of that character aiming extremely high for a fight in the prestigious large luxury car segment.
There is no doubt from my perception that the Equus has aimed high to go up against the big dogs offering a much lower price and a full list of market-standard luxury features. The supple and silky smooth ride, from its electronically dampened air suspension system and vastly sized interior tend to overwhelm and convince you that the Equus is up to the expected standard just as the long-time luxury class leaders. Digging a little deeper into the Equus and you will uncover slight shortcomings that still pit Hyundai’s flagship vehicle as an unambiguous underdog.
For anyone venturing into the full-sized luxury car market from anything smaller would find the new Equus more than gratifying. Where the Equus falls short is when directly compared to other manufacturer’s luxury flagship vehicles. The interior, despite its plentiful space, isn’t up to par on the quality materials found in BMW, Benz, Lexus and Audi flagship vehicles. The other aspect of the Equus that may be considered to be an undermining component, is its powertrain. The Equus is powered by a new 5.0-liter 429 horsepower and 376 ft.-lbs. of torque V8 engine. Though no all-wheel-drive option is offered, power is directed through a new smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. On paper the power output is slightly behind the competition while others may also offer an all-wheel-drive system. Gas mileage figures for the Equus come in at an underwhelming 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. During my drive of the Equus on the highway I saw a steady 21.5 mpg traveling just 5 mph above the speed limit. 0-60 mph time for the new Equus is about 6.7 seconds, a little behind the competition.
Driving impressions of the new 2012 Hyundai Equus are up to par for anyone who does not mind piloting a large luxury appliance without a bit of excitement. Lacking excitement isn’t always a bad thing when it comes to a full-sized luxury vehicle, adding some sporty attributes could not hurt, though. The Equus never really feels slow but it doesn’t feel nearly as fast as its competition. The electronically controlled air suspension system is soft and tends to let the large Equus body literally float on a bed of air but with the consequences of a bit of extra unwanted body bounce. A sport mode stiffens things up only slightly still allowing the body to float with a restrained bounce at times. Sport mode also holds higher gears longer -while the transmission will only reach its 8th gear when under light loads at highway speeds.
The new 8-speed automatic transmission mated to a new 5.0-liter V8 mesh very well. The power band is well-adapted to the gear ratios while the shifts come on extremely smooth. The minor issue with the 8-speed transmission is its inability to quickly upshift when it requires skipping more than 2 gear cogs. Cruising along in 8th gear and stomping on the gas will take an extra second or two for the transmission to jump into the required gear. However, the transmission does not take too long hunting for the proper gear under most civilized driving conditions.
The new 2012 Equus rides on 19-inch chrome alloy wheels with offset tires, 245/45 front and 275/40 rear. The Equus’ cabin remains exceptionally quiet, even under heavy acceleration and during highway cruising. Steering feel is mostly numb and isolates the road from transmitting any harshness from imperfections in the road. An abundance of understeer ensues if you ever dare to push the Equus to its limit on twisty roads or turns. The traction control softly intrudes to keep all 4.468 pounds of Korean luxury civilized and out of the ditch. The wide rear tires really help to keep the Equus planted while limiting the transmission of ruff surfaces into the cabin.
The exterior design of the new Equus may come off a bit brash for those who compare it to the Lexus LS, Benz S Class and maybe the BMW 7 Series. Each of those vehicle’s exterior design seems to be somewhat mimicked in the new Equus’ sheet metal and rear fascia. The Equus is a good-looking car that wants to cleverly fit in with the rest of the crowd. The unique Equus emblems throughout the vehicle (found on the wheels, steering wheel, shifter and hood) are still somewhat of a mystery and possibly to signify some type of quintessential luxury branding of Hyundai.
Inside of the new 2012 Hyundai Equus is a spacious interior that appears to look better than it really is. The seating areas are comfortable and the standard driver’s seat lumbar-back massage system are excellent luxury features to have standard. Also standard, is a radar active cruise control system, lane departure warning, power tilt-telescoping heated steering wheel, power rear sunshade, dual auto temp controls (w/ redundant controls on the rear armrest), HID auto level and cornering headlights, keyless proximity key, front-rear parking sensors w/ backup camera, GPS navigation integrated into a center toggle multimedia console controller (somewhat similar to BMW iDrive or Benz command control), auto dimming rearview mirrors, full interior/exterior LED lighting (except headlights), rain sensing wipers and active dampening adjustable air suspension (normal mode, high height mode and sport modes).
The new Equus really shines with the long list of standard features. Only two trim levels are offered to designate the feature set. You have a choice of the Equus Signature (my test vehicle) or the Ultimate. The Ultimate trim seats four due to rear reclining bucket seats with heating, cooling and massage functions. The Ultimate trim also adds rear passenger side window defrost, a mini refrigerator, separate controls for a rear DVD entertainment system and rear climate. Also included in the Ultimate trim is a forward-view corner camera system, power trunk lid and power rear side window shades. You can say the Equus Ultimate begs to be best full-sized luxury vehicle you can get for a bargain.
The new Equus Ultimate trim level adds $7,000 to the base Equus Signature price of $59,000, bringing a fully-loaded Equus’ total to $66,000. Still, the price point of the Equus undercuts its competition and remains to serve up true full-size luxury car amenities and arrangements.
The new 2012 Hyundai Equus is a slight disconnect from the rest of the lineup, even the new Genesis sedan, which can be had with the same 5.0-liter 429 horsepower V8 engine. Hyundai has its work cut out to keep up with the long-time residence occupied by what the best of the mainstream full-size luxury car segment has to offer. Though, the Equus is a valid attempt at a true full-size luxury-appointed vehicle. The Equus is most certainly ready for the mass American market begging for a look by those wanting to save several thousands.
Copyright: 2012 AutomotiveAddicts.com
- Price: Equus Signature Base/Final Price $58,750 / Equus Ultimate $66,000
- Engine: 5.0-liter DOHC 32-Valves V8 429 horsepower @ 6400 rpm / 376 ft-lbs. torque @ 5000 rpm
- Wheelbase: 119.9 in.
- Total length: 203.1 in.
- Total width: 74.4 in.
- Total height: 58.7 in.
- Track: f/r-63.8/64.1 in.
- Headroom: f/r-38.7/37.7 in.
- Legroom: f/r-45.1/38.9 in.
- Cargo volume: 16.7 cu.ft.
- Turning circle: 39.6 ft.
- Fuel tank: 20.3 gallons
- Curb weight: 4,486 lbs.
- 0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds
- EPA fuel economy: 15mpg/city, 23mpg/highway
|The 2012 Hyundai Azera And Equus: Bookends Of Luxury||
When Hyundai entered the U.S. market 25 years ago, few critics took the upstart Korean automaker seriously. Back then, Hyundai was a value brand that offered new cars for less money than the competition, and in 1986 the automaker claimed just 1.1 percent of the new car market. Fast forward to 2011, and Hyundai is now a full-line automaker that produces everything from legitimate sport coupes through luxury cars. It’s shifted from a value brand to a valuable brand, and now accounts for 5.1 percent of new car sales in the United States.
That makes Hyundai the sixth best-selling automaker in the U.S., and the brand currently enjoys a 64 percent retention ranking, the highest in the industry. Last year, its cars sold at an average of 96 percent of sticker price, and the company moved from seventh in residual value to third. Put another way, with modest marketing and very little fanfare, Hyundai has moved from an ancillary brand in the industry to one of its key players.
Part of Hyundai’s success comes from building both gateway vehicles (like the Veloster, Elantra and Sonata) and aspirational vehicles (like the Azera, Genesis and Equus). In fact, the original Azera was the first Hyundai model sold in the U.S. to top the $30k price point, paving the way for Hyundai to launch additional upscale models like the Genesis and Equus sedans.
As significant as the Azera was, the original version never sold particularly well. It may have offered luxury amenities at a near-luxury price, but interior and exterior styling was best described as “uninspired.” Worse, the model was never actively marketed by Hyundai, who wisely imported only a handful of Azeras each year.
Despite this, Hyundai believes the market has room for a luxury sedan in the Azera’s price bracket, so it’s introducing an all-new Azera for the 2012 model year. It’s also borrowing a page from Honda’s playbook: rather than launching multiple models with confusing option packages, the Azera will come in just two variants: Base, and with Hyundai’s Tech Package.
Even base models come surprisingly well equipped. Leather upholstery is standard, as are heated seats for both front and outboard rear passengers. There’s a segment-first standard nav system with back-up camera, dual-zone climate control with rear vents, cooled glove box and manual rear side window sunshades, too. Opt for the Tech Package, and the content list includes 19-inch alloy wheels (up from 18-inch on base models), a panoramic sunroof, HID headlights, a power rear sunshade, and Infinity premium audio system, power adjustable steering wheel, driver’s seat memory, driver’s seat cushion extension, ventilated front seats, parking sensors and ambient interior lighting.
Under the hood, all Azera models get a new Lambda II 3.3-liter V-6 engine, good for 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, mated to a Hyundai-designed six-speed automatic transmission. At 88.8 horsepower per liter, the engine’s output is best-in-class, yet its combined fuel economy of 23 mpg ties for best-in-class with the Toyota Avalon and Acura TL. According the EPA, the Azera will deliver fuel economy of 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, thanks in part to its Active ECO system that smoothes throttle response and boosts fuel efficiency by up to 7 percent.
All Azera models use a MacPherson strut front suspension and in independent, multi-link rear setup. Sachs “Amplitude Selective” dampers are used to smooth out the ride over rough surfaces, while still delivering crisp turn-in and minimal body roll in corners. We’d stop short of calling the Azera a sport sedan, but it definitely delivers a sporty-but-comfortable ride.
The Azera’s exterior styling now uses Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” language, and we say that’s a good thing. Designers incorporated wing styling elements in the front grille, while strong character lines and a rising beltline give the Azera a distinct presence in profile. Out back, wrap-around taillights and exhaust outlets embedded in the rear fascia give the car a modern and upscale appearance.
Inside, the wing theme carries over to the center stack and dashboard, and the driver’s space is designed to have a cockpit-like feel to it. Interior attention to detail is impressive, with a sculpted crash pad of soft-touch vinyl, metallic trim surrounding the instruments and driver information display, and premium carbon-fiber-look trim. Buyers get a choice of three interior colors as well, including camel, graphite black and chestnut brown.
On the road, the new Azera accelerates with reasonable authority, turns in quickly with minimal body roll and provides good feel from both steering and brakes. Noise isolation is impressive, and we’d definitely call the Azera luxury-car-quiet at highway speeds. The Sachs dampers are more than just marketing hype as well, delivering a remarkably smooth ride over broken pavement.
At a starting price of $32,000 for the base Azera ($36,000 for the Azera with the Tech Package), Hyundai’s entry-level-luxury sedan delivers solid value, and will likely give the Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon a run for their money. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the Azera pull in a few Acura, Lexus and Infiniti shoppers as well, and we’re sure that Hyundai will have no trouble selling all the Azeras it imports.
At the opposite end of Hyundai’s luxury lineup is the 2012 Equus, which is a legitimate competitor to cars like the Lexus LS 460 and the Mercedes Benz S550. New for 2012 is Hyundai’s 5.0-liter Tau V-8, rated at 429 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, now mated to a Hyundai-developed eight speed automatic transmission.
The Equus’ new drivetrain solves the only issue we had with the original car, which came with a 4.6-liter V-8, good for just 385 horsepower. The original Equus felt down on power compared to rivals from Japan and Germany, while the new version pulls equally hard when you step on the gas. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that fuel economy really hasn’t suffered: the previous Equus was rated at 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined, while the 5.0-liter V-8 Equus gets a rating of 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.
As with the Azera, Hyundai’s Equus will be a value-leader in the segment, Base models, called “Signature” in Hyundai-speak, will start at just under $60,000, with Equus Ultimate models priced around $66,000. If you’re in the market for a large, premium-luxury sedan, we’d seriously recommend you give the 2012 Hyundai Equus a look.