- Generous list of standard features
- Expansive rear legroom
- Comfortable seats
- Extremely quiet cabin
- Suspension tuning lacks sophistication
- Disappointing stopping distances
- No option for all-wheel drive or additional engine choices
When Hyundai first announced it would bring its Equus luxury sedan to the United States, many wondered if an automaker long associated with economical sedans and sport-utility vehicles could build a car worthy of being uttered in the same breath as titans such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7 Series. When it came stateside, the answer was a resounding yes. At the time, we wrote: "The Equus is solidly engineered, remarkably quiet and indulgently comfortable, and that's on top of its exceptional feature content and relatively affordable price."
The story is much the same five years later. The sheet metal is dignified and unpretentious. Creamy leather, wood trim and soft-touch plastics blanket the cabin, while the headliner and body pillars are trimmed in quality synthetic suede. There are standard features galore, of course, including a great-sounding 17-speaker Lexicon sound system, a navigation system, heated and ventilated front seats and a power rear shade. Go for the Ultimate trim level and Hyundai adds some nice bonus features like surround-view parking cameras and a rear-seat entertainment system.
With just a cursory inspection, the Equus does seem to hit the right notes. In reality, though, Hyundai's halo car stumbles a bit in execution. Although they look and feel nice, the Equus' cabin materials are simply outmatched against the exquisite quilted leathers and woods with natural finish that are available on Europe's flagship sedans. Braking, steering and handling are not up to those benchmark standards. And unlike those competitors, the Equus cannot be ordered with an all-wheel-drive powertrain, a different engine other than its 5.0-liter V8 or some of the latest cutting-edge technology offerings.
The 2016 Hyundai Equus is handsome but isn't as distinctively styled as the competition.
Then again, the Equus costs perhaps 60 percent of what the typical German flagship goes for. If you're not looking for the ultimate in large luxury sedan refinement or prestige, it's a great way to go. Another option for a similar amount of money would be the mechanically related Kia K900; it's slightly less expensive but doesn't have quite as many features. There's also the Cadillac XTS, which is pretty roomy and offers two engine choices and available all-wheel drive. Another option would be the highly competent Lexus LS, which slots between the Equus and the ruling sedans from Europe in terms of price.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2016
The 2016 Hyundai Equus Ultimate gets a hands-free trunk that can be opened by standing next to the trunk. Otherwise, the Equus is unchanged.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2016 Hyundai Equus is a full-size luxury sedan available in base Signature or Ultimate trims.
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, 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 adjustability), 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.
Electronics features include adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning system, a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alerts, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a navigation system, a color 7-inch driver information display, a 9.2-inch central 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 a USB audio interface.
The Equus Ultimate adds power-actuated soft-close doors, a hands-free power trunk lid, a full LCD instrument panel with steering-wheel-mounted controller, a head-up 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 entertainment system.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Inside the 2016 Hyundai Equus, the highly adjustable front seats are a pleasure to settle into no matter what the weather, as the built-in ventilation system circulates heated or cooled air through the perforated leather upholstery. Rear seat passengers will enjoy the vast amount of legroom, especially since the outboard seats recline. These, too, are heated and (in Ultimate trim) cooled, and the central armrest folds down to reveal a bevy of controls for seat lumbar, rear power shade and rear seat entertainment displays (if equipped).
Rear seat passengers enjoy heated and cooled reclining seats, power side window sunshades and soft-close doors in the Equus Ultimate.
The materials aren't as impressive as those found on the Equus' more expensive counterparts, but they don't suffer much by comparison. A healthy list of standard features gives it a strong value proposition, but in Ultimate trim the Equus punches above its price class. The additional features included in this trim are only seen on the most expensive and exclusive vehicles.
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 2016 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.
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.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Equus came to a stop from 60 mph in 127 feet, which is longer than average for this class.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2016 Hyundai Equus is solely powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 429 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive is the only powertrain offered. In Edmunds performance testing, we recorded a 0-60-mph time of 5.6 seconds, which is average for large luxury sedans. The EPA-estimated fuel economy is 18 mpg combined (15 city/23 highway).
On the highway, the 2016 Hyundai Equus drives like a large luxury sedan should. It's exceptionally quiet at speed, and the ride is soft and comfortable. At this price point, there are fewer cars more suitable for taking on an effortless cross-country road trip.
The 2016 Hyundai Equus is at its best when you hit the open road and crank up its Lexicon sound system.
However, the Equus' suspension lacks the precision refinement found in some rival sedans. Driving over large bumps can cause the Equus to feel wallowy. Setting the suspension to the Sport mode helps, but then too many sharp impacts from the road can be felt. Around turns, the Equus just feels big and in no particular hurry.
While it doesn't benefit from the more powerful, forced-induction setups of other large sedans, the 5.0-liter V8 performs admirably in hustling the Equus along. It never leaves the driver wanting for more, as the Equus overtakes vehicles on the open road with ease.
The 2016 Hyundai Equus is a compelling choice for consumers who don't want to break the bank on a full-size luxury sedan purchase.