2012 Hyundai Equus Signature: Driven Page 2

August 8, 2012
Inside, the accommodations are mostly on par with luxury flagships. The Equus' front seats are relatively comfortable, but they lack both lateral support and the kind of extendable thigh support that makes the front perches in many luxury cars so good for taller drivers. The trunk space isn't perfectly shaped, but it's huge, and you could fit a couple of full-size suitcases and still have spare space for a few weekend bags.

As much as the Equus seems to be trying to be on the same level as Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and others, it feels a half-step behind on infotainment. In place of a touch screen, there's a static (yet attractive) eight-inch LCD screen plus a rotary controller, flanked by hotkeys for commonly used features like navigation or calling. I'm also now used to using Bluetooth audio streaming (or Pandora integration) in many mass-market test cars—including our Six-Month Road Test Hyundai Veloster—and was surprised to find that as a premium offering the Equus doesn't have it.

Otherwise for just under $60k, which is what our test 2012 Hyundai Equus Signature cost, you get an incredible amount of standard equipment, including smart cruise control, a pre-collision system, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, and parking sensors front and back. And the 608-watt Lexicon audio system sounded majestic and well-rounded.

Luxury good or awkward knockoff?

Depending on your mood and where you are, the Equus can feel like a true luxury good or an awkward knockoff. Because Hyundai has gone less its own way with design, and more derivative, it's harder to take the effort seriously. And the weird bird emblem isn't a good start. Every one of my passengers through the week asked about it: “So Equus means horse, why is there a bird?” By the end of the week, I was a little frustrated: I didn't know; and I haven't heard Hyundai give an answer yet that makes sense.

Cosmetically, this is a car that will wax and wane on you, at times feeling more like a garishly dressed up Continental or Town Car, other times feeling convincingly like a Lexus LS—or as its own well-mannered beast. It's different than the Genesis, which we like more for possessing its own clearer identity; the more time with the Equus, we tended to focus on subtle things that go well beyond first impressions.

To us, what it comes down to is: If image matters, then you're probably better off going with a late-model used S-Class, Jaguar XJ, or Lexus LS. But if you want to reward yourself with a good luxury car that's actually a pretty good value for the money, Hyundai is already there.

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