2011 Hyundai Equus


$17,384 - $19,200

2011 Hyundai Equus Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Hyundai Equus was new.


Performance: 7.0

With competent power and adequate handling, the 2011 Hyundai Equus manages performance that’s on par with many of its competitors, yet the Equus suffers from brakes which one reviewer thinks feel spongy and steering that garners mixed reviews. Some reviewers say that the steering system in the Equus could use more power assist, while one test driver wrote that despite steering woes, the Equus felt more connected to the road than the Lexus LS which it closely mimics.

The 4.6-liter V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission found in the Equus are the same as those found in Hyundai’s Genesis sedan. If you like the Equus, but wish it was a little more powerful, it might be worth your while to hold out for 2012 model, which will come equipped with a more powerful, 5.0-liter V8 and an eight-speed automatic.

  • "Late this summer, the 2012 Equus will adopt a 5-liter V-8 with 429 horsepower -- giving the Equus the most standard horses in its class. An 8-speed transmission will replace the current 6-speed. One wonders why Hyundai didn’t offer the Equus from the get-go with that stronger powertrain." -- New York Times 
  • "One shortcoming is that the Equus comes only with rear-wheel drive, while its German and Japanese rivals offer optional all-wheel drive." -- Cars.com 
  • "Power delivery is linear and smooth, with intake noise easily eclipsing any exhaust note out back. The transmission is equally up to the task, delivering crisp shifts and predictably -- if slightly lazily -- reaching for a lower gear when maximum thrust is called upon." -- Autoblog 

Acceleration and Power

Only one engine and transmission is available in the 2011 Hyundai Equus – a 4.6-liter ‘Tau’ V8 that delivers 385 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. According to the EPA, the 2011 Hyundai Equus averages 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Compared to the super luxury cars that the Equus seeks to emulate, these numbers are competitive. However, the Equus’ price-point is closer to that of a fully-loaded luxury large car. It’s competitive with cars like the Cadillac DTS and base Mercedes E-Class in terms of fuel economy, yet it can’t match cars like the BMW 528i, which leads the luxury large car class with 22/32 mpg city/highway fuel averages. One plus is that while Hyundai recommends premium fuel, you can use regular gas in the Equus with only a slight decrease in performance.

If you’re considering a Hyundai Equus for your next vehicle, it may be in your best interest to wait, as a new 5.0-liter Tau V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission are expected in the 2012 model. Power will increase to 429-horsepower in the 5.0-liter Tau, and the transmission’s two additional gears will likely help the Equus maintain similar fuel economy. Expect the 2012 Equus to hit dealer lots about midway through 2011.

  • "The power numbers are certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but they do fall midpack among the car’s intended benchmarks. The Equus betters the V-8-powered Audi A8’s 372 hp, but the Mercedes S550 will soon pack 429 hp. To stay competitive, the Equus will receive a new drivetrain in mid-2011 that combines a Hyundai-designed eight-speed automatic with a 5.0-liter version of the same Tau engine making as much as a Benz-matching 429 hp." -- Car and Driver 
  • "While the power of the Equus measures up to the competition, you'll notice a little less thrust at low rpm while driving around town. This is most noticeable when accelerating from a stop, as the Equus doesn't provide the same immediate V8 punch as most other flagship luxury sedans." -- Edmunds 
  • "On the high-speed oval at Hyundai's Namyang proving ground, the Equus showed no problem effortlessly accelerating up to 140 mph and then quietly cruising at that triple-digit velocity as if it were 80." -- Motor Trend 
  • "The 2011 Equus' six-speed was well-behaved, and the car accelerated authoritatively and quietly" -- Cars.com 
  • "The Tau is easily competitive with all the V8 offerings from established luxury marques, and even if you can't spring for premium fuel, the eight will happily chug away on 87 octane with only a slight decrease in performance. " -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

Reviewers generally note that the comfort-tuned suspension in the Equus is adequate enough for the task at hand. It’s an air-adjustable system with selectable ride height and a sport mode, which many note has only a slight effect on improving the car’s cornering ability. Still, the Equus’ heft and long wheelbase make handling predictable, and one test driver notes that the car’s electronic stability control does an excellent job of keeping it firmly planted if you take an aggressive turn.

Less impressive, however, are the steering and braking systems in the big Hyundai. One reviewer notes that the steering lacks any type of feedback, while another notes that it could use more power assist. Braking duties are also not quite up to par with the Equus’ rivals. Reviewers say that the car requires a long braking distance and that the pedal feels mushy when braking. 

  • "The air suspension, with its selectable ride height, makes for a comfortable ride, although pressing the sport button on the console -- which is said to sharpen the suspension, steering, and transmission -- has a negligible effect." -- Car and Driver 
  • "There is some float to the ride in its normal suspension mode, but hit Sport and this big sedan becomes more buttoned-down over bumps. Through corners, it won't keep up with sport sedans like the BMW 7 Series or Jaguar XJ, but the Equus is stable and predictable enough if pushed." -- Edmunds 
  • "We did find the Equus to wallow a bit over the bumps of the oval's steep banks (the Sonata 2.0T, for instance, felt more stable), but otherwise the nicely tuned electro-hydraulic power steering and adjustable air suspension provided a secure feeling at speed." -- Motor Trend 
  • "For this type of cocooning sedan, I prefer the Lexus’s creamier steering, but the Hyundai actually felt more connected to the road, especially after switching its air suspension to Sport mode." -- New York Times 
  • "My complaints are relatively few. The biggest one is that the steering needs more power assist at highway speeds; I found it fatiguing to keep the car centered. I'd make the same complaint about a sporty car, but it seems particularly out of character here." -- Cars.com  
  • "However, the one faint light is the electronically-controlled air suspension that continuously adjusts damping force in 10 millisecond increments to suit the road and driving mode. Switching from Normal to Sport supposedly tweaks the damping, steering and transmission shift schedule, but we only noticed the latter's affect." -- Autoblog 

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