- More luxury car for the money
- Leather and wood are up to snuff
- Business class, in front and in back
- White-glove dealership service
- The look is derivative
- Thirsty in everyday use
- No more four-passenger edition
- Lacks the prestige badge
The 2015 Hyundai Equus is a well-priced limousine, while the German competition still has it beat for those who want to pilot their own barge.
Hyundai's Equus and the Genesis sedan it's based on have helped take the brand from value-conscious import to offering actual luxury, even if the big rear-drive cars still don't offer the cachet or style of the Germans they think they're going after. The Equus is unchanged for 2015, although the Genesis enters its second generation, which serves to highlight some of the larger car's minor faults, even though it was recently refreshed. While the Genesis is more of a driver's car, the stretched Equus focuses on rear-seat luxuries, including the luxury of space.
A 2014 once-over brought the Equus a more cohesive design, new materials, new active-safety features, and even more high-end luxury features. That said, it's still based on the first-generation Genesis and meanwhile that car has made strides in standard equipment, technology, and suspension.
The powertrain is still shared between the Equus and V-8-powered Genesis, which happens to be a good thing. The 429-horsepower 'Tau' V-8 (420 in Genesis sedans) is fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission that you can shift manually when desired. The V-8 has all the latest technologies, such as direct injection, dual continuously variable valve timing, and tuned variable induction, and the combination can hustle this sedan to 60 mph in about six seconds—accompanied by, as we've found in previous model years, an atypical (for a luxury sedan) brawny burble and ripple. Fuel economy ratings are 15 mpg city, 23 highway. In fact, the V-8 has enough torque (376 lb-ft) to silently break the low-grip tires loose when you stomp on it from a stop; this behavior is reminiscent of a big rear-drive German, but perhaps one from about a decade ago.
The Equus leans toward the luxury side of the line that divides crisp handling response and a comfortable, isolated ride. An air suspension on all Equus models includes Sport and Normal modes, which now have a noticeable amount of separation. It's quite softly sprung in Comfort mode, while its Sport mode is still not quite to the Lexus LS F Sport's level of tautness--not to mention anything floated in on a freighter from Germany or the U.K.
There are two trim levels available, Signature and Ultimate. Even the Equus Signature comes as an extremely well equipped luxury car, with more standard features than many models from prestige marques. HID headlamps, LED front fog lights and exterior lamps, rain-sensing wipers, water-repelling front glass, heated power-folding mirrors, and a heated windshield are all standard; and inside the Signature includes leather upholstery, heated-and-cooled front seats, a 12-way memory driver's seat, full steering-wheel controls, a sunroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, real wood leather accents, smart cruise control, a power rear sunshade, proximity entry, push-button start, HomeLink, and a 17-speaker Lexicon surround sound system. A navigation system with XM traffic and weather data, Gracenote, and 30GB storage is also included.
Limousine-like Equus Ultimate models on top of all that add a rear entertainment system with dual 9.2-inch screens, rear-seat audio and climate controls, upgraded instrument-cluster displays, power door closures, a power rear seat, cooled rear seats, a cornering camera, power side sunshades, and a head-up display.
The Equus does well in IIHS crash-testing, and the recent update brought more standard safety features. Blind-spot monitors are standard, and on the Ultimate model there's a head-up display. Ultimate models also include a multi-view camera system. Both models include a Rear Cross-traffic Alert system, and a lane departure warning system is available, with audible and visual warnings and even a haptic seatbelt warning. Smart cruise control is available as well. Nine airbags (including a driver's knee bag), active front-seat head restraints, and Brake Assist are included across the lineup.