- Enormous list of standard features
- Presidential-size backseat
- Supremely quiet
- Serene ride
- Phenomenal sound system
- Interior quality and driving experience don't equal those of more elite luxury sedans
- Disappointing braking distances
- All-wheel drive is not offered
Contrary to misperceptions spread by those who flaunt their garages full of flashy supercars, most of the millionaires in this country are low-key, fiscally responsible people. They're the kind of folks to whom a luxury sedan like Hyundai's 2015 Equus might well be appealing.
Of course, you don't need a seven-figure net worth to find Hyundai's 429-horsepower rear-wheel-drive flagship an attractive alternative to entries from better-known luxury brands. Because, simply put, the Equus is priced thousands less than its competitors while still delivering levels of style, comfort, quality and features that can make anyone feel like a million bucks.
Coming off a substantial freshening last year, the 2015 Equus returns unchanged, a fact that's not necessarily a bad thing. The exterior's stately proportions and sleek lines are sophisticated enough to leave the folks who'll pull up next to you at traffic lights wondering with appreciation what luxury brand an Equus hails from. The cabin is equally posh, with soft leather upholstery, genuine wood trim and a suedelike headliner. In fact, about the only clue you're not driving one of those more high-profile European or Japanese models is the Hyundai logo on the steering wheel (special Equus badges are on the trunk and hood).
Examine the hushed interior more closely and you'll find everything you'd want in a full-size luxury sedan and then some. The Equus' list of standard features is so extensive that there are essentially no factory options. On the top Ultimate trim level, this includes everything from a head-up display and a 360-degree parking camera system, to heated and ventilated reclining rear seats and a 17-speaker Lexicon surround-sound audio system.
Certainly, everything on paper adds up to a compelling large luxury sedan that may make you wonder why anyone would pay so much for a premium branded car. However, there are subjective factors and certain intangibles that show that Hyundai isn't exactly offering a Mercedes, Audi or Lexus at cut-rate prices. The cabin's materials may be of high quality, but they're still a step below what you get in those more established flagships. The car's driving dynamics aren't as sharp either. The ride is certainly comfortable and cosseting, but it lacks the truly refined balance of comfort and handling control offered by its rivals. Braking distances are also on the long side, and no all-wheel-drive model is offered.
There are also a number of other value-rich cars that offer lots of space and cabins packed with luxury and convenience features. First and foremost is the mechanically related 2015 Kia K900, which shares the Equus' strong value proposition but offers more distinctive styling and the option of a more efficient V6 engine. The smaller Cadillac XTS and 2015 Hyundai Genesis also offer similar amenities, combined with a sharper driving experience, more expressive styling and a lower price. Meanwhile, parking one of the higher-profile models like the Lexus LS 460 in your garage will definitely get you a higher-quality luxury sedan and more cachet to boot, though they obviously cost more.
That all said, we still think the 2015 Hyundai Equus deserves serious consideration by folks who appreciate upscale comforts and good value equally -- even if they have yet to make their first million.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2015
The 2015 Hyundai Equus sees no major changes.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2015 Hyundai Equus is a full-size luxury sedan available in two five-passenger trim levels: Signature and Ultimate.
The Signature model's lengthy list of standard equipment starts with 19-inch alloy wheels, an adjustable air suspension, automatic and adaptive bi-xenon headlights, LED foglights and daytime running lights, automatic wipers, a windshield wiper de-icer, power-folding and auto-dimming outside mirrors, a sunroof, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors and keyless ignition and entry.
Inside you get tri-zone automatic climate control with separate rear seat controls, leather upholstery and extended leather interior trim, heated and ventilated power front seats (12-way driver and 10-way passenger), driver memory functions, heated and power-reclining rear seats, a heated power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a power rear sunshade and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Electronic features include adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning system, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a navigation system, a 9.2-inch display, real-time traffic information and a 17-speaker Lexicon surround-sound audio system with satellite radio, HD radio, a six-CD changer, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Equus Ultimate adds power-actuated soft-close doors, a power trunk lid, a full LCD instrument panel, a head-up windshield display, forward-facing and surround-view cameras, power rear side window sunshades, rear seat power lumbar adjustment, rear seat head-restraint adjustment, ventilated rear seats, rear vanity mirrors and a dual-screen DVD entertainment system.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
That old saying about there not being a bad seat in the house could easily apply to the interior of the 2015 Equus. The highly adjustable front seats are a pleasure to settle into, even in warm weather, as the built-in ventilation system circulates chilled air through the perforated leather upholstery to provide relief from hot, muggy days. The rear seats offer more than just generous head- and legroom, including uncommon comforts like power-reclining seatbacks and heated seats (which include cooling and power lumbar adjustments on Ultimate models) in the outboard positions. Not to mention the standard rear seat DVD entertainment system with a pair of large 9.2-inch displays. Of course, all of this is available on other luxury sedans, but for a much higher price.
While it's fair to say the leather and genuine wood lining the cabin may not be quite as world-class as the trimmings in some of the Equus' high-dollar competitors, the design and materials still create a space that's stylish, elegant and comfortable. It's also remarkably quiet. Adding to this sophisticated atmosphere are the big Hyundai's long list of standard technology, including the Ultimate model's fully digital instrument cluster, head-up display, multiview camera system and power-operated sunshades on the rear and rear side windows.
As a road trip machine, the Equus offers a spacious trunk with 16.7 cubic feet of cargo room. Folding down one or both sections of the 60/40-split rear seatbacks can expand that space so you can squeeze in longer items and still be able to shut the trunk.
Standard safety features on the 2015 Equus include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side and side-curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag, front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Also standard are lane-departure, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems and a pre-collision warning and preparation system that uses the same sensors as the adaptive cruise control. The standard Blue Link telematics system provides emergency assistance, remote vehicle access, stolen-vehicle recovery and geo-fencing.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Equus came to a stop from 60 mph in 127 feet, which is longer than average for this class.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Equus its highest rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests. The Equus' seat and head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2015 Hyundai Equus gets a standard 5.0-liter V8 that produces 429 hp and 376 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission are standard. The EPA's fuel economy estimates for this powertrain are 18 mpg combined (15 city/23 highway).
In Edmunds performance testing, the Equus accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, which is a good time given its size and power.
From behind the steering wheel, the 2015 Hyundai Equus feels like a proper luxury sedan. With the adjustable suspension set in Comfort mode, the car cruises serenely, unperturbed by all but the nastiest pavement irregularities. Dial up the suspension's Sport setting and you'll notice the car's handling feels more responsive, though in the end no one will ever mistake it for the sharper driving experiences offered by most competitors. This isn't necessarily a negative, but if you're looking for an expert blend of comfort as well as control, the Equus isn't the flagship for you.
However, the 5.0-liter V8 is certainly capable of propelling this big sedan with a remarkable sense of urgency when spurred on by a heavy right foot. The eight-speed automatic transmission is a good match for the engine, providing smooth shifts in everyday operation and much more rapid gearchanges in Sport mode.
A spacious interior and comprehensive features list make the 2015 Hyundai Equus a compelling value for consumers who don't want to break the bank on a full-size luxury sedan purchase. Just don't expect much in the way of personality.