By Jim MacPherson
The luxury sedan club is mostly occupied by cars from Europe. Newcomers such as the Hyundai Equus won’t be welcomed with open arms. Not every buyer of a luxury car is ready to drive a Hyundai.
After spending a week driving the Equus, however, I think it will be only a matter of time before some of these drivers change their minds.
The Equus is a luxury car with a price that undercuts every competitor by between $8,205 and $37,975. Amd the rich, it is said, do not fritter away their money. A major price advantage should more than offset the minor shortfall in ride and handling that we noticed.
The Equus comes in two models: Signature and Ultimate. The Signature is a five-passenger sedan that is comfortable, convenient and luxurious. The Ultimate offers even more luxury, such as a center console for the back seat that allow passengers to set the controls for heat and air-conditioning, as well as audio, video and a footrest. There’s also a cooler for snacks and drinks.
Both models feature a 4.6-liter V-8, a six-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. The platform comes from the Genesis, Hyundai’s flagship model until the Equus came on the scene.
Not every Hyundai dealer sells the Equus. Balise Hyundai in Springfield is the closest. John Perez, Balise Hyundai’s general manager, says two-thirds of his Equus sales have been to Connecticut residents.
“Every single person who has purchased an Equus so far has traded a Lexus LS 460,” Perez says. “People are blown away by the car. It can be $40,000 less, has a better warranty and you don’t even need premium gas.”
Among the perks is an unusual service policy. “People never need to come to the dealership for service,” Perez says. Ì
“We’ll send a flatbed out to them and drop off a Genesis.” The truck will then transport the customer’s car in for whatever service is required.
Longer than the Genesis, the Equus offers more room for rear seat passengers. The Ultimate model we test drove had a power footrest and built-in back massager in its back seat. This item is a reflection of the car’s South Korean ownership base, whose members often have a chauffeur. Taller passengers will feel slighted by these amenities, as they will have less room to enjoy them.
The driver’s seat also features power massage. In addition to being roomy and supportive, both front seats offer either heating or ventilation at the push of a button. The steering wheel is also heated.
The engine is smooth, refined and heard only on full-throttle acceleration. At these times it is suitably muted, despite being tapped for its full output. Sixty miles per hour arrives in just 6.3 seconds and highlights the top- flight performance of the smooth-shifting transmission.
The ride is firm. Impacts from worn pavement patches and potholes produce slightly more body motions than in some direct competitors. Brisk cornering produces a good amount of body lean and reveals a front end that runs wide of the driver’s expectations. There is a Sport button on the console that firms the ride, but the steering feels artificially heavy and offers little feedback.
Hyundai Equus: Starts at $58,000
Engine: 4.6-liter V-8 385 horsepower and 333 lb-ft of torque (378 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque with regular gasoline) EPA 16/24