The 2012 Hyundai Equus Signature

The 2012 Hyundai Equus Signature: super-luxury, served Korean style

There are people in the automotive world who scoff at the suggestion of a true, premium luxury sedan from a Korean automaker but the odds are good that those people haven’t experienced the 2012 Hyundai Equus – a full sized, fully loaded luxury sedan that can stand toe to toe with the top luxury names in the industry.

The Hyundai brand is best known in the United States for their lineup of popular economy cars including the Elantra and the Sonata with prices that tend to stay in the low 20,000 range – all the more reason for critics of the Equus to question the near-60k price tag. However, Hyundai is easily among the most improved automakers in the US auto industry over the past decade. While the Hyundai brand of the late 1990s and early 2000s would have been an awkward place for a super-premium luxury sedan, the Equus stands as a shining symbol of just how much the brand has improved. While their high volume vehicles like the Elantra, Sonata and Genesis family are the bread and butter, the Equus shows that the brand is capable of far, far more than just $20,000 economy cars.

The Exterior
The 2012 Hyundai Equus sports the big, bold styling that has become expected of the full size luxury sedan segment but unlike the other Hyundai models – the Equus does not sport the aggressive design with respect to the rest of the segment. While models like the Sonata, the Elantra, the Veloster and the Tucson are far more aggressive in their exterior design than many of their competition’s models of the same segments – the Equus has a slightly less radical design. However, the design cues of the Hyundai brand are still very much there even though the Equus wears a badge of its own on the hood and wheels with an abstract bird emblazoned in chrome.

Across the front, the 2012 Hyundai Equus wears large headlight housings that stretch out along the fenders with a classy projection and LED combo providing great light along with an eye-catching look. Below the headlights are bold chrome trim pieces that follow the contour of the lens and below those are a lower fascia area with chrome fog light bezels and three large air inlets. The centerpiece of the Equus front end is the massive chrome grille with thin horizontal bars and a thick center dividing bar. This front end of the Equus is not as aggressive as some of the other Hyundai models (Veloster, Genesis Coupe) but the Korean automaker has done a great job of applying “their look” to the front end of this super-sedan in a very luxurious layout.

Along the sides, the 2012 Hyundai Equus has a very fluid design with only a subtle body line running from the front end through the front door handles with a rear angle cutting up in front of the rear door handles – forming a wide, muscular rear end. The Equus packs plenty of chrome and down the sides there are chrome trim pieces along the lower skirts, the door handles, on the side mirrors, around the side windows and – of course – on the distinct Equus branded 19” aluminum wheels. The side profile of the Equus gives it a very powerful, upright design while the long greenhouse gives the sedan a slippery look without compromising head room inside. The rear roofline flows through the back glass and into a short trunk lid, a design which adds some sportiness to the brawny luxury sedan.

Out back, the Hyundai Equus has more chrome on the upper edges of the rear fascia, on an appliqué above the license plate area and in the angular, molded exhaust tips. The Equus wears large, predominantly red tail lights with only a pair of long, thin strips providing light when backing up. These lights pour down into the middle of the fascia – completing the flowing look of the Hyundai design theme.

The 2012 Hyundai Equus has a big, bold exterior design that allows it to both fit into the full size luxury sedan segment but also stand out with the design dues for which the Hyundai brand has become recognized. While driving the Equus, I had more than one person ask me “are you driving that new Mercedes out front?” They were all shocked to hear that it wasn’t a Mercedes but instead – it was a Hyundai. Those people were even more shocked when I let them check out the interior of this luxury sedan.

The Interior
As soon as you open the door of the 2012 Hyundai Equus, the level of luxury is very, very clear. Soft black leather is found on the dash, door panels, the center console and the plush seats – front and rear. The door panels have padded areas on the armrest and on the vertical portion of the panel where your elbow may rest. The black scheme continues through the carpeting and across the dash with high gloss wood grain panels adding to the luxury feel around the gauges, across the dash face, through the center shift console and on the top and bottom portions of the steering wheel. A light grey headliner provides a sexy contrast against the predominantly black interior with that lighter trim blending down into the inner pillars all around. The interior of the Hyundai Equus looks fantastic but it is even more comfortable than it looks.

The seats of the 2012 Hyundai Equus are all very plush, feeling more like expensive living room furniture than a car interior and that applies to both the front and rear seating positions. Buttons located for easy use high on the door panels for all four normal seating positions make it very easy to adjust the seats to your liking. The driver’s seat allows you to basically adjust every direction and parameter of the seat for the optimal driving experience, including all of the basics as well as the angle of the seat back relative to the lower seat portion. The front passenger can adjust their seat almost as much as the driver with just the seat angle being removed. The driver’s seat also features two different messaging modes as well as multi-directional lumbar adjustments.

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