Premium large car; Built in South Korea
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $18,500 – $41,700*

2011 Hyundai Equus Front

2011 Hyundai Equus Rear

2011 Hyundai Equus Interior

2011 Hyundai Equus Front-2

2011 Hyundai Equus Rear-2

  • Quietness
  • Rear-seat room
  • Seat comfort
  • Fuel economy
  • Handling

When new, Equus earned our Best Buy (2011) rating by undercutting the price of other premium large sedans by tens of thousands of dollars. Equus cannot match its German rivals or the Lexus LS in ride and handling, and cabin refinement is not quite on par for the class. Still, with a starting price roughly $40,000 less than the Mercedes-Benz S550, Equus has been a compelling new-car value. That should continue to be the case on the used-car market. Our pick is the Signature model, which forgoes the novelty of a reclining rear seat.


Hyundai’s Equus made its North American debut for 2011 as this Korean brand’s new flagship sedan. A premium-large car with rear-wheel drive, Equus measured about 4 inches longer in wheelbase and 7 inches longer overall than the Hyundai Genesis sedan, the vehicle with which Equus shared its basic design. Also derived from the Genesis was Equus’ powertrain: a 4.6-liter V8 engine that paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. That engine produced 385 horsepower when used with premium-grade gas, or 378 horsepower when operating on regular.

Standard safety features included all-disc antilock braking, traction control, an antiskid system, curtain side airbags, plus front and rear side airbags. Lane-departure warning was standard, too, along with front/rear obstacle detection. Equus trim levels included base Signature and uplevel Ultimate editions. Leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, a heated power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, keyless access/engine start, a navigation system, rearview camera, and heated power rear seats were standard. The Equus Signature seated five. Ultimate models had a two-place split rear bench for four-passenger seating, adding a center-mounted chilled storage box. These versions also had a reclining rear-passenger seat with massage function. Also standard on the Ultimate were cooled rear seats, DVD entertainment, a power trunk lid, and a front-mounted camera. Rivals to the Equus included the Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS, and Volvo S80, as well as the more costly Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series.

Yearly Updates

2012 Equus
A new 5.0-liter V8 engine, generating 429 horsepower, replaced the prior 4.6-liter V8 in the 2012 Hyundai Equus. In addition, an eight-speed automatic transmission supplanted the previous six-speed unit.
2013 Equus
The 2013 Hyundai Equus saw no significant changes after getting a new engine for model-year 2012. The company was prepping a significantly freshened version of this car for the 2014 model year.
2014 Equus
For 2014, Equus had revised interior and exterior styling.


longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

Initially, the Equus used a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produced 378 horsepower (385 hp with premium fuel), mating with a six-speed automatic transmission. For 2012, a new 429-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 replaced the original 4.6-liter engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission replaced the six-speed.

dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.6/283
Engine HP 378-385
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 324-333
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic



dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.0/307
Engine HP 429
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 376
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
8-speed automatic


Road Test

An Equus is strong off the line and responsive at any speed. The smooth six-speed transmission provides prompt, silky shifts. Some testers, in certain situations, found low-speed throttle response with the initial engine to be less than immediate. Performance with the stronger V8 installed in 2012 models is both energetic and well-behaved.

Fuel economy earns no prizes. In Consumer Guide testing, an Equus Ultimate with the 4.6-liter engine averaged 15.6 mpg. Judging by EPA estimates, gas mileage with the stronger 2012 engine should be no better. Hyundai recommends premium-grade gasoline, though the company has said the 4.6-liter engine would run fine on regular with a slight decrease in power.

Ride quality is generally compliant, but the suspension lacks the sophisticated ride/handling balance of large luxury offerings from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus. Equus tends to wallow and float with the adjustable suspension in standard mode, and to crash over larger road imperfections in Sport mode.

Equus is a luxury car with no sporty pretensions. That characteristic comes to light in the form of copious cornering lean and pronounced nose dive in sudden braking. Strong, sure-feeling brakes, on the other hand, bring Equus to a quick stop.

The Equus engine is heard only during acceleration, and even then it’s well muted. Wind and road noise are noticed only in rare circumstances.

Gauges are clearly marked and easy to read. Most major controls are likewise simple to locate and manipulate. Sadly, Hyundai’s attempt to mimic European-style central-control-knob actuation of lesser functions is no less frustrating than those systems. Multiple steps are required for most audio and some climate functions, complicating their use. Cabin materials are appropriate for the Equus price class, but are a half-step behind costlier European and Japanese rivals. Most surfaces are soft-touch and/or padded. Real-wood and bright accents impart a luxury feel.

Front seats are well-shaped and padded. Standard power adjustment and a standard power tilt/ telescopic steering column make it easy to find a comfortable driving position.

Rear occupants can expect limousine-like legroom, because all of the extra 7 inches of length that an Equus has, compared to Hyundai’s Genesis sedan, appears to have gone to the rear seat area. Unfortunately, headroom is only adequate for six-foot-tall folks. The feature-packed heated/reclining/massaging right-rear seat found on Ultimate models is a welcome luxury touch, but its usefulness is limited for taller passengers. The remaining legroom once the seat is fully reclined limits its use to children and smaller adults.

Trunk volume is average for its class, but the well-shaped cargo area has a large opening. Its small rear-seat pass-through is a poor substitute for folding seatbacks. Interior storage is only adequate, with a small console bin and average-sized glovebox.


Model Tested: 2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 7
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 7
Steering/Handling - 5
Quietness - 9


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 9
Room/Comfort Rear - 9
Cargo Room - 4


Value - 8

Total: 68


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
119.9 203.1 74.4 58.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
16.7 20.3 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.7 38.1 45.1 38.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: The transmission may not shift out of park due to failure of the key lock control module (2012)
Engine knock
Description: Oil filters other than Hyundai brand may cause engine knocking. (2011-12)
Description: Faulty inhibitor switch may prevent the engine from starting in Park or Neutral. (2012-13)
Check-engine light
Description: The check engine light may glow due to malfunction of the automatic transmission solenoids. (2011)

Recall History

2011 Equus
Description: Because of a circuit failure, the brake lights may fail to illuminate.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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