Auto Review: Wide open spaces

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Jan. 5, 2012
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

Changing trends in the automotive world are often indicators of the changing nature of American lifestyles. A great example of this has been the rise of the SUV as the family car, and how over time it’s evolving from being more truck-based to more car-based. It’s not quite come full circle, but today’s crossover SUVs are starting to look a lot more like cars than the big boxes of just a few years ago.

That said, some automobiles are going to always be with us in the same basic form we’re used to. A great example of this is a car that has gone down in popularity but may actually be on the rise once again: the full-size sedan. While the mid-size class is flirting with the kind of room we used to associate with these comfortable automobiles, the full-boat large car is still out there and more accommodating than ever. In the case of Hyundai, you may think I’m talking about their roomy Genesis sedan, but in fact there’s a larger, even more luxurious rear-drive sedan in their stable. It’s called the Equus, and it’s the company’s flagship that sets new standards for comfort and refinement at a much lower price than the competition; impressive, given it has a lot of the same highly-advanced features as the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.

As I mentioned the Genesis, it’s important to show just how the Equus compares in terms of dimensions. At 115.6 inches, the wheelbase is more than 4 inches longer, and the Equus is also 7 inches longer overall, while width is the same. Interior room is larger in areas like hip room as well, although I was surprised to learn overall EPA interior room is almost identical to its sibling. The trunk is slightly larger, though, and the car just feels bigger inside (although I’m not sure why exactly). The fact is, both cars are very roomy and access is very easy as well.

The engine is the same that’s found in the Genesis R-Spec, which means it’s the potent Tau 5-liter V8 with 429 horsepower. The gearbox is a silky-smooth Shiftronic six-speed automatic transmission, and with all that V8 power and the crisp gear changes, the Equus moves out effortlessly, with 60 mph arriving in under six seconds. The adjustable air suspension with Continuous Damping Control is aimed toward a luxurious ride, yet has a sport setting to limit body roll, and a height control to give you more ground clearance at low speeds, when desired.

The cabin of the Equus is a triumph in both comfort and logic; the former thanks to premium leather seating surfaces, excellent ergonomics and the latest in luxury amenities. The logic part comes from Hyundai’s adherence to making controls more traditional than much of the competition, and therefore simpler and easier to master. It makes the car a genuine pleasure to live with, and when combined with the comfort and performance, it is indeed a flagship big sedan.

The 2012 Hyundai Equus Signature is EPA-rated 16 MPG city/24 highway and has a sticker price of $58,900. www.hyundai.com

 


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