As Hyundai finally overcomes its reputation for cheap and unexceptional cars, is it yet ready to battle the biggest names in the luxury arena?
Image matters to buyers of flagship sedans, and comparing a Hyundai to a Mercedes-Benz or BMW is like comparing a Costco-branded wine to a Lafite Rothschild. But does that stop the Korean automaker's most expensive model -- the Equus -- from being any good?
Hyundai introduced the Equus in 2010, and a 2014 refresh brings some notable changes. The grille, wheels and exterior trim are a little more contemporary, in line with European competitors. Also new: a redesigned center stack, Hyundai's BlueLink telematics and a revised suspension.
Equus styling borrows heavily from certain competitors -- notably Lexus, which in turn first cribbed its look from Mercedes-Benz. The effect is blandly upscale, and the design won't polarize opinions like the Jaguar XJ.
Inside, you'll find plenty of opulence. The new 9.2-inch infotainment screen is more intuitive than many in this segment. Still, it's not quite as nice as its more expensive competitors, or even some cars from the midsize luxury segment -- blame the conservative nature of the design.
All models come with a 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, adaptive cruise control and a suite of alert systems for cross-path traffic and lane departure, among other driver assists. Ultimate trim steps it up with an LCD instrument cluster, soft-close doors, around-view cameras and a head-up display -- making the Equus competitive with others in the upper-luxury segment.
Under the Hood
The only engine for the Equus remains the 5-liter V8 mated to an 8-speed automatic -- don't look for a more efficient turbocharged six here. Another option you won't find, and one that's available on all rivals, is all-wheel drive. The Hyundai is rated by the EPA at a mediocre 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. Still, traditionalists will appreciate the note of the V8.
The Signature is the least expensive Equus, but it gets all the basics covered. In addition to the obligatory 5-liter V8 and 8-speed automatic, the Signature trim level includes features such as the 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, air suspension, xenon headlamps with LED running lights, 19-inch alloy wheels, navigation, satellite radio, real-time traffic and iPod integration. It also comes with Hyundai's BlueLink telematics system.
Even a full suite of safety tech is included, something for which competitors usually charge extra. That means every 2014 Equus comes with adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, cross-path traffic detection and a backup camera.
The Ultimate is certainly the ultimate Equus. In addition to the long roster of features offered by the Signature trim, the Ultimate adds even more to keep drivers and passengers comfortable. This includes soft-close doors, power side sunshades for rear passengers, ventilated rear seats, lumbar adjustment for rear-seat passengers, a DVD entertainment system and rear vanity mirrors.
The driver isn't left out, though. It also offers tech such as surround-view cameras and a head-up display, but you can't get a night vision camera like you can on a number of other luxury cars. Even auto-braking is unavailable, something now being offered on much cheaper cars.
Build and price your dream Hyundai Equus in just a few easy steps.
|Build & Price|
Stylish, powerful and a gorgeous interior, but still not as prestigious as some rivals
Efficient, powerful and good to drive, but beset with expensive options
Quiet and serene riding experience and well-equipped, but driving experience is lacking compared to rivals
A benchmark in the class for comfort and technology, but about to be replaced