2012 Hyundai Equus


$20,464 - $22,774

2012 Hyundai Equus Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Hyundai Equus was new.


Performance: 7.1

It’s no sport sedan, but the 2012 Equus is a fine choice if you’re looking for a comfort-tuned ride and a powerful V8. Hyundai has overhauled the drivetrain for 2012, adding a more powerful engine and an updated transmission. However, some reviewers dislike the Equus’ spongy brakes, as well as steering and handling that seems too isolated from the road.

  • "No one in the know will ever mistake the driving characteristics of the 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan with those of a BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but the average buyer probably won't notice much difference." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Ride and handling may be too soft, not as crisp as might be desired by hard-driving enthusiasts." -- Washington Post

Acceleration and Power

The Equus sees some significant updates under the hood for 2012. A new 429-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission offer 44 additional horsepower and two extra gears compared with the 2011 model. Only a handful of reviewers have driven the Equus with the new V8, but those who have are impressed with its smooth, powerful demeanor. Still, one test driver notes that while most competing super luxury cars offer optional all-wheel drive, the Equus is rear-wheel drive only.

The EPA reports that the 2012 Equus gets 15/23 mpg city/highway, which is slightly less than the 2011 model’s 16/24 mpg estimates.

  • "The Equus is a fine car, a superb, well-crafted, rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan. But it's nobody's BMW, although it does have a bigger V-8 engine (5-liter Equus displacement vs. 4.4 liters for the BMW 550i) and a bit more horsepower (429 for the Equus vs. 400 for the BMW 550i)." -- Washington Post
  • "In addition to providing smooth acceleration and enough power to scoot the large sedan to 60 mph in about six seconds, the potent V8 returns impressive highway mileage numbers on par with both the BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes S-Class." -- Kelley Blue Book 

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 Sport mode, but many say it has a negligible effect on the car’s cornering ability. Still, the Equus’ heft and long wheelbase make handling predictable, and one test driver says its electronic stability control does an excellent job of keeping the Equus firmly planted in aggressive turns.

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 says that it could use more power assist. Critics also say that the car requires a long braking distance and that the pedal feels mushy. 

  • "The Equus doesn't come close to matching the driving dynamics -- or the prestige and smart styling -- of its German rivals, but it's also many, many thousands of dollars cheaper and still offers an incredibly luxurious driving experience, not to mention a better warranty." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The 2012 Hyundai Equus sedan holds the line very well in corners and is more than capable of reeling in its substantial weight on twisty roads. Steering feel is good and, though not as responsive as a 7 Series, it's a bit better than the Lexus LS, which is probably right about where Hyundai planners want the car to be." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "But there is a consistency of feel in the BMW 550i unmatched by the Equus … the Equus feel as if it's floating on air while it's actually rolling over rocks. When you are rolling over rocks in the BMW 550i, you know you are rolling over rocks, which is strangely comforting. You have a good idea of what the car is doing, and the car is confirming your idea. I like that. Most drivers appreciate that, I think." -- Washington Post 
  • "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 
  • "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   

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