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A Sweet Head-Up Display And Gauge Cluster

2014 Equus Review: Are You Ready For A $70,000 Hyundai?

Once the driver's seat is adjusted to your liking, put a foot on the brake and hit the push-button start to light up the Equus' dashboard and gauge cluster. Stepping up to the Ultimate trim level does away with analog gauges. In their place, you find a 12.3-inch extra-wide LCD display. Of course, Hyundai isn’t the only company completely replacing yesterday's technology with a digital screen. Jaguar, Land Rover, and Cadillac all utilize LCD-based gauge clusters as well.

The panel's native resolution is 1280x480, which certainly sounds low in this business. However, as you no doubt already know, the components you find in a car often trail what we carry around in our pockets by years. Besides, from where you sit, the display doesn't look bad.

Hyundai mimics traditional analog gauges with its digital output, enhancing the functionality by including music information, navigation directions, driver assist features, vehicle settings, and standard trip counters. Accent colors on the display smartly change to let you know whether the Equus is in Sport, Normal, or Snow mode.

2014 Hyundai Equus: LCD Gauge Cluster

In practice, Hyundai's gauge cluster offers the same capabilities as Kia's analog gauges that sandwich an LCD in the Sorento and Cadenza. I find myself perplexed, then. Why bother going all-LCD if you're going to turn around and replicate the analog technology you replaced anyway? Hyundai does get credit for doing a good job; its needles move smoothly. But they're too two-dimensional. There is no depth. You can dim the LCD at night, but you'll still see the backlight, even with black content on-screen.

The cluster's display is fairly responsive, though it isn't quite the same as analog needles. Step on the gas, and the responding exhaust note just doesn't seem to sync up with the tachometer. A mere satisfactory list of features doesn't make the case for an LCD-based panel any stronger. This $70,000 flagship can do a lot of the same things as Kia's Cadenza, except that car's hybrid cluster is nicer to look at.

I'll spell out my expectations here, for every car manufacturer to see. When a company goes all-LCD, I expect different themes and layouts for changing driving preferences. Don't use digital technology to replicate analog gauges. If that's your plan, stick with the old school cluster and throw an LCD display in between. In the end, Hyundai's implementation looks like a check-list feature to make the Equus comparable to Mercedes' S-class. It's just executed poorly, leaving you with a mediocre interface.

The LCD gauge cluster's saving grace is a fantastic head-up display, which conveys speed, provides navigation directions, flashes blind spot notifications, lane departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control feedback. Unlike the HUDs available in some GM vehicles, you don't get any music information or a tachometer reading. However, at some point, we have to appreciate a projection that reflects the necessities. The way the Equus is configured, it successfully limits the amount of time you'll spend glancing down at the dash and infotainment screen.

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