2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate

The thing about the 2011 Hyundai Equus: It’s the nicest car you’ve probably never seen.

The thing about the 2011 Hyundai Equus: It’s the nicest car you’ve probably never seen.

Let’s cut to the chase here. Let’s just show you the car, because if you’re like most people that I encountered when I was standing near the Hyundai Equus, you’ll have one, two, or both reactions:

1. What is that car?

2. It looks nice.

So here it is:

Yes, this is a Hyundai that has an MSRP—not including a $900 freight charge—of $64,500. Yes, you read “Hyundai” and “$64,500” in the same sentence.

People can quibble all day as to whether that should be the case, but as someone likes to say to me with an unassailable logic, “It is what it is.”

And the Equus is a hell of a car.

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Here’s an astonishing number for you: 50. That’s how many “Key Standard Features” that the car has. And these features are not just gamed, cited because the car maker want to make the list longer, but bona-fide things that are of value to someone making a purchase consideration. The list ranges from the 4.6-liter V8 that gives you 385 hp if you put premium in the tank or 378 hp with regular to a first-aid kit. In between there are items including the six-speed ZF transmission with Shiftronic (which means you could sport shift it—but really, something that looks like this: C’mon, unless you’re a character in an action movie, what are the odds of that happening?); electro-hydraulic power steering (when you have a car with a curb weight in the 2.25-ton vicinity, electric steering won’t get it done); electronically controlled air suspension with Continuous Damping Control (this is blissful in and around the ever-increasing number of places where potholes aren’t fixed or even filled with a lackadaisical shovel); smart cruise control (which is notably easy to use and adjust, which can’t be said about some competitive setups); leather-wrapped dash and “real wood trim” (I understand that these are ostensible “luxury” cues, but the first-named strikes me as somewhat odd--Why leather? Is there an issue of the dashboard wearing out or something? Do you have to polish it with a Kiwi product?—and the second, well, with all due respect, with the amount of lacquer or polymer or whatever it is coated with, it looks like something from a chemistry set, not a tree); electroluminescent cluster with 3.5-in TFT LCD screen (which essentially means that the gauge faces are really nicely light with a sophisticated blue-white lighting and there is this little screen inset that shows not only information about things like average speed or fuel efficiency, but often has a little rendering of the car, for some inexplicable reason: might the driver, well, forget?); acoustic laminated windshield, front and rear side windows (this car is remarkably quiet, so the 608-W Lexicon 7.1 Discrete audio system with 17 speakers can really get a workout if you’re so inclined without having to overcome the annoyance of road noise); and 60/40 power reclining and heated rear seats (which really goes to the point of this car, which is that it is really a “passengers’ car” more than a “driver’s car” inasmuch as the back seat is really setup for the comfort and convenience of those sitting back there, assuming that those are going to be business people).

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(If you thought that sentence was long, try to figure out how to look at the bottom of that picture above without turning your computer over.)

In addition to those 50 items, there is are additional goodies for those who opt for the Equus Ultimate (there are two trim levels: Signature for $58,000 and Ultimate for $64,500), of which only two are of interest to anyone but the rear-seat occupants: the forward-view cornering camera (this, presumably, helps when trying to edge out onto a perpendicular street in that there is an image on the navigation screen of the front view with a bit on either side) and the power trunk lid (what can be said?). The other items include a rear entertainment system and increased luxuriation of the rear seats (yes, I just made that word up, but there is no other word for it: what happens when you pile lux on lux?).

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Given all that, if you’re aware of some sort of contest along the lines of “Understatement of the Year,” you might submit this one, from John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America president and CEO: “When you’re spending this much for a new car, you don’t want to feel like you’ve been shortchanged on engineering, technology or features.”

Hardly.

In addition to all the stuff (mentioned above), there is also no shortchanging vis-à-vis service: The dealership will pick up the Equus for maintenance, replacement of wear items or warranty work—and all factory maintenance is covered for five years/60,000 miles, and wear items—brake pads and discs, wiper blades, battery, are covered to boot. And, yes, if they take your Equus and you need transportation, they’ll leave one—or a Genesis, but wouldn’t that sort of be, well, comparatively déclassé? (No.)

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(This is the Equus badge.  We thought that “Equus” had something to do with a horse.  Doesn’t that look like a bird?)

Selected Specs

Engine: 4.6-liter DOHC V8 with dual continuous variable valve timing and variable induction

Material: Aluminum block and heads

Horsepower: 385 @ 6,500 rpm (premium fuel; 378 hp with regular)

Torque: 333 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm (premium fuel; 324 lb-ft with regular)

Transmission: ZF 6-speed electronic and SHIFTRONIC manual shift mode

Wheelbase: 119.9 in.

Length: 203.1 in.

Width: 74.4 in.

Height: 58.7 in.

Curb weight: 4,486 to 4,592 lb

EPA fuel economy: 16/24 mpg