2014 Hyundai EquusPosted on December 30th, 2013
Five-passenger luxury sport sedan
By Nina Russin
It was a gutsy move for Hyundai to enter the luxury market, since the company’s marketing impetus had traditionally been value-focused. Even gutsier was not creating a separate brand, as both Honda and Toyota did in launching the Acura and Lexus lines respectively.
I respect Hyundai for departing from its comfort zone, and even more for introducing a product that maintains the brand’s core mission of offering buyers value for the money. Although a $61,000 sport sedan might not seem like a bargain, it is when compared to competitors with six-figure price tags.
Power for the rear-wheel drive Equus comes from a 429-horsepower aluminum V-8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. Drivers can choose between snow, normal and sport modes to vary throttle response according to road conditions.
There are two trim levels: Signature (tested) and Ultimate. The Signature is more of a driver’s car while the Ultimate one to be driven in with fancier second-row seats.
Pricing is monospec, saving buyers from haggling at the dealership over confusing option packages. Standard convenience features on the test car include keyless entry and start, tri-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a 7.1 surround sound audio system, 19-inch alloy wheels, high intensity discharge headlamps, adaptive cruise control, navigation, Blue Link telematics and more. Final MSRP, including the $920 delivery charge, is $61,920.
Newly restyled and engineered
The most obvious change for 2014 models is restyling, including a new grille and front fascia, new wheels, revised instrument panel, center stack, steering wheel and rear seat center console.
Although the new exterior is more aggressive than the one it replaces, I’d like to see Hyundai take the styling a step further. With the very brilliant Peter Schreyer overseeing the brand’s global design, I don’t see why the Equus couldn’t give conservatively designed competitors a run for the money.
Engineers retuned the sedan’s four-wheel independent suspension and added a snow mode for better traction on wet and snow-covered roads.
Adaptive cruise control now functions down to a complete stop, making it easier to keep engaged in dense traffic. The rearview camera now has several views, including one that focuses on the pavement beneath the car. Anyone who has inadvertently backed over broken glass or a parking lot barrier should see the value of this.
Test drive in Phoenix
This week, I drove the new Equus on a combination of surface streets, highways and two-lane rural roads in Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley as well as the foothills of the Superstition Mountains. Being the start of the holiday season, area freeways saw exceptionally heavy traffic, with a high percentage of distracted drivers. I was grateful to be in a car with blind spot monitoring, since so many of the drivers seemed blind to their surroundings.
It doesn’t take long to realize that the Equus is a powerful car. The five-liter block offers aggressive acceleration off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. Passing slower cars on a two-lane road is a non-issue.
The eight-speed automatic transmission stretches fuel economy with large overdrive gears for the highway. Average fuel economy on my 100-mile test drive was about half a mile-per-gallon better than the 18 mpg EPA estimate. There is no perceptible shift shock under normal driving conditions, but the driver can feel a strong downshift when he digs into the throttle. That and the throaty exhaust note give the Equus sex appeal.
The electro-hydraulic power steering system offers pleasantly heavy response on the highway, with plenty of low-speed assist for maneuverability. The turning circle is 39.6 feet: not bad for a car with a 120-inch wheelbase.
Although the Equus is a big, heavy car, it feels quite nimble, thanks to the multilink front and rear suspension with real-time damping. The sedan was a joy to take through the Bush Highway east of town, with its decreasing radius turns and sharp, pitchy hills. The only thing that kept me from pushing the car harder than I did was fear of getting a speeding ticket.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. The blind spot monitoring system illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots. A cross traffic alert sounds an audible alarm when approaching cars are too far out to be picked up by the rearview camera.
The sedan’s spacious interior includes all of the amenities one might expect from a luxury sedan, from its heated and ventilated power seats to the upscale audio system. I found the audio and climate controls intuitive to operate. The large center stack screen is easy to read, but tends to wash out in bright sunlight. A hood over the top would solve the problem.
The car’s tall floor tunnel takes up some legroom in the second-row center position, but there is enough space between the two rows of seats for the passenger to be comfortable on shorter trips around town. Those seated in the two outboard positions should be as comfortable as those in front, with their own set of climate and infotainment controls in the center console.
The Equus has a cavernous trunk with plenty of room for luggage, groceries, golf bags and the like. Cyclists who want to carry their bikes inside the vehicle would be better served with one of Hyundai’s crossovers.
The Hyundai Equus comes with nine standard airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, tire pressure monitoring, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rearview camera, active front headrests, emergency 911 notification and stolen vehicle location.
Hyundai builds the Equus at its Ulsan, Korea assembly plant.
Like: A powerful luxury sedan offering the performance and standard safety features of considerably pricier competitors.
Dislike: Exterior styling seems derivative of the car’s competitors.
Model: Equus Signature
Base price: $61,000
As tested: $61,920
Horsepower: 429 Hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 376 lbs.-ft. @ 5000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 15/23 mpg city/highway.
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