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2011 Hyundai Equus Preview

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•    What is it: The new luxury four-door from Hyundai, bigger than the Genesis sedan
•    Key facts: As long as an S-Class; shares its V-8 with the Hyundai Genesis
•    On sale: July 2010
•    Price: $50,000 - $60,000

With the 2009 Hyundai Genesis successfully launched, the Korean automaker is planning for the arrival of an even bigger, more luxurious sedan--the 2011 Hyundai Equus, now slated to arrive in the U.S. late next year.

The Genesis took home the 2009 North American Car of the Year award and Hyundai is hoping to further capitalize on this success, since the Equus is based on a lengthened version of the RWD platform underpinning the award-winning Genesis. A potential rival for the Lexus LS 460, the new Equus will be priced from between $50,000 and $60,000, undercutting the targeted competitors from Lexus and Mercedes, and overlapping those shoppers interested in the nifty new 2011 Infiniti M56.

In size and performance, the Equus might be a competitor for the Lexus LS, but would also stack up against the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series. The current Equus is only marginally shorter than the German duo, while it could be priced $30,000 beneath them.

The new Equus has been on sale in South Korea since March, with some versions exceeding $80,000. It will share the 4.6-liter V-8 with the Genesis, tuned in the Equus to make 385 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy's rated at 16/24 mpg--and acceleration times to 60 mph are pegged at 6.4 seconds. The performance benchmarks are pointedly exceeded: both the Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class V-8 sedans have slightly lower horsepower and gas mileage numbers. An air suspension is standard on U.S. cars, as is electric power steering and the usual host of safety bits--nine airbags including curtain airbags, stability control and active headrests.

Inside, the five-passenger Equus will have an option for a four-seat interior--a pair of bucket seats replacing the rear bench. Some of the possible options include tilting rear seats, massagers and TV screens in the rear seats.

Luxury touches include LED lighting, wood trim, navigation, a Lexicon audio system with XM and HD radio, and Bluetooth connectivity. Adaptive cruise control is offered, and a front camera can be paired with the rearview safety camera and parking sensors.

We'll be driving the final U.S. version of the Equus soon--until then, take a look at our first drive in a Korean-spec Equus.

 
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