A Smooth V8 And Eight-Speed Transmission
Driving the Equus' rear wheels is Hyundai’s own 5.0 L Tau V8 engine, featuring dual continuously variable valve timing (D-CVVT) and gasoline direct injection (GDI). The motor makes a respectable 429 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. Compared to Lexus' LS460, which we know Hyundai is gunning for, the Equus' Tau offers 43 more horsepower.
A lot of manufacturers are using the fantastic ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic transmission. But Hyundai mates its V8 engine to an in-house-developed eight-speed transmission, which we first encountered on the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, tested last year. Back then, we found it to be clumsy as it hunted for gears. But I was happy to see those issues rectified in Hyundai's 2014 Equus. Shifts are much smoother, yielding a more refined experience.
The powertrain combination yields an EPA-estimated 15 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway, which is actually pretty low considering what some of Hyundai's competitors achieve in the luxury sedan space. My lead-footed driving yielded fuel economy in the mid-teens, unsurprisingly.
Hyundai employs an air suspension system with active damping to keep the Equus’ 4616 pounds planted. It constantly monitors vehicle behavior and adjusts the damping forces accordingly. The car has a Sport mode that firms up the suspension for supposedly-better handling, but the Equus isn’t exactly a sporty land barge to begin with. More important is that the air suspension keeps Hyundai's flagship at the same ride height and pitch, no matter how bad the road conditions get.
Between the heavy chassis, big engine, and comfortable suspension, driving around in the Equus is smooth. Step on the gas and Hyundai's V8 demonstrates its torque, but in luxury car fashion. That is to say, there is no neck-snapping acceleration. You are propelled forward with authority, though. And you have to be careful because that's how you get yourself into trouble on the highway. The car feels like it's doing 60, while you're really at 85 or 90.
Pressing the drive mode button puts the Equus in Sport mode, firming up its suspension and changing the LCD gauge cluster lighting accepts from blue to red. Just don't expect a dramatic change in behavior. The Equus doesn't inspire the same level of confidence as Audi's A8L. It is more on par with the LS460, I'd say. In fact, it's more exciting to drive than the Lexus, which works out well for this car's target demographic.