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REVIEW
From Edmunds.com
2013 Hyundai  Equus Picture
PROS
  • Enormous list of standard features
  • Presidential-size backseat
  • Supremely quiet
  • Serene ride
  • Phenomenal sound system
  • Low price for the segment
CONS
  • Interior quality and driving experience don't match those of rivals
  • Disappointing braking distances
  • All-wheel drive is not offered

This is the country of Costco and the all-you-can-eat buffet. Squeezing every remaining drop of value out of your dollar is as much a national tradition as baseball, apple pie and, well, you know the rest. The 2013 Hyundai Equus might be made in South Korea, but no other luxury car embraces the American concept of max value with such vigor.

Think of the Equus as an opportunity to own a Lexus LS sedan at the price of a Lexus GS sedan. Its backseat is cavernous, with a colossal amount of legroom and reclining seatbacks. Pair this space with a whisper-quiet cabin and serene ride and you get a car that is tough to beat in terms of long-term comfort. The epic standard features list should make passengers even happier, as it has luxuries that usually are optional elsewhere.

However, just because Outback and Morton's are both steakhouses doesn't mean that filet mignon tastes the same in both places. The Equus might line up with high-end flagship luxury sedans on paper, but once you get up close, you can see that there's more to an automobile than just its laundry list of features. And here the refinement of the daily drive isn't quite up to the standard of more conventional choices in the premium sedan segment. Is the humble Hyundai badge on its tail worth the savings?

Our car-reviewing staff is split on that one. But even if your ultimate answer is "yes," we would still suggest considering some other choices. The Hyundai Genesis is still quite big and offers many of the Equus' features, while being more affordable and more maneuverable. The new Cadillac XTS is also similar to the Equus in many ways, but is certainly more interesting to behold. Yet like an Elvis impersonator from Seoul, the large, luxurious and generously equipped 2013 Hyundai Equus does a bang-up job of acting the part.

WHAT'S NEW FOR 2013

The Hyundai Equus is unchanged for 2013.

2013 Hyundai  Equus Picture

TRIMS & EQUIPMENT

The 2013 Hyundai Equus is a full-size luxury sedan available with a single wheelbase and two trim levels. The Signature trim seats five people, while the Ultimate trim seats four due to a full-length center console.

The Equus Signature comes standard with 19-inch wheels, an adjustable air suspension, adaptive automatic bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, foglamps, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning system, automatic wipers, a windshield wiper de-icer, a power-closing trunk, a sunroof and keyless ignition/entry.

Inside you get dual-zone automatic climate control, rear seat climate controls, heated and ventilated power front seats (12-way driver and 10-way passenger), driver seat memory functions and massage, heated power-reclining rear seats, leather upholstery, extended leather interior trim, a heated power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a power rear sunshade and an auto-dimming mirror. Electronic features include Bluetooth phone connectivity, a navigation system, real-time traffic information and a 17-speaker Lexicon surround-sound audio system with satellite radio, HD radio, a six-CD/DVD changer, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.

The Equus Ultimate adds a forward-view cornering camera, power-operated rear-seat sunshades, a rear center console with a refrigerator and enhanced audio/climate controls, ventilated rear seats, power-adjustable headrests, power-operated rear-seat footrests, rear vanity mirrors and a single-screen DVD entertainment system.

2013 Hyundai  Equus Picture

INTERIOR & SAFETY

The Equus packs nearly every luxury and convenience feature found in other premium-badged cars and wraps them all in a first-class design. Interior quality is certainly strong, but this car costs less than the established premium brands for more reasons than just its Hyundai badge. The materials used and construction fall short of those in similarly priced luxury sedan cabins, let alone those of similarly sized flagship luxury sedans from Audi or Mercedes-Benz. One question mark is durability; we noticed stretched and sagging leather seat upholstery in our year-long, 20,000-mile long-term Equus test car.

Overall interior room is quite impressive, and both front and rear passengers are treated to sky-high levels of comfort. For the full VIP experience, we recommend the Equus Ultimate for its added amenities. The extending La-Z-Boy-style footrest will impress your friends, but it isn't really long enough for most full-size adults to enjoy. In terms of trunk space, the Equus is pretty respectable, with 16.7 cubic feet available.

The Equus features a knob-based multimedia controller that operates the navigation, climate, vehicle and entertainment systems (there are also simple, redundant climate controls in the center stack). Overall, it works OK, with certain tasks like Bluetooth phone pairing made particularly painless. However, commonly used functions like selecting a radio preset or controlling your iPod take too much effort. This is a shame, since the Lexicon sound system is one of the best available in any car, period.

The 2013 Equus comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, a lane-departure warning system, a pre-collision warning and preparation system (using adaptive cruise control sensors), front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag.

In Edmunds brake testing, the Equus came to a stop from 60 mph in 131 feet, which is about 10 feet longer than average for this class.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Equus its highest rating of "Good" in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.

2013 Hyundai  Equus Picture

PERFORMANCE & HANDLING

The 2013 Hyundai Equus comes standard with a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 429 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission are standard. According to EPA estimates, the Equus returns 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.

In Edmunds performance testing, the Equus went from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, which is about average for a large V8-powered luxury sedan.

Silence. That's one of the first things you notice after taking the wheel of the 2013 Hyundai Equus. At idle, it's about as quiet as a hybrid with the engine shut off. Things aren't much louder once underway, with the engine just a whisper and only a slight tire hum to be heard at freeway speeds. The Equus isn't some sleepy-handling limousine, but it's close. It floats a bit in default suspension mode, but hit the Sport dynamic button and the Equus firms up over bumps and road irregularities. It doesn't have the speed or reflexes of luxo-sport sedans like the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series or Jaguar XJ, but the Equus remains stable and predictable when pushed, much like a Lexus.

While rated power from the 5.0-liter V8 meets or beats most of the competition, the Equus still lacks the effortless low-end thrust of the German flagship nobility. It's one of the traits that keeps the Equus from the ranks of elite luxury sedans, but really, few are ever going to think this grand Hyundai is slow.

VERDICT

The grand size, comprehensive features and strong value proposition of the 2013 Hyundai Equus make it a compelling alternative to traditional luxury sedans.

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