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

2014 Equus Review: Are You Ready For A $70,000 Hyundai?
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Would you be willing to spend close to seventy grand on a high-end Hyundai? Loaded down with a 429-hp V8 engine, heads-up display, numerous driver aids, and a back seat full of amenities, the automaker wants to give value-seekers something to think about.

It’s hard to believe that a company responsible for such terrible cars as the Scoupe and Excel in the late 80s is now one of Detroit's toughest competitors. Hyundai managed to massively change the perception of its brand over the last decade. Little by little, vehicles were improved, the line-up expanded, and confidence was bolstered through comprehensive warranty coverage.

After enjoying success in the subcompact, compact, mid-size, and full-size segments, Hyundai set its sights on the luxury market and introduced the Genesis sedan in 2008. That platform also spawned the Genesis Coupe, the company’s first rear-wheel drive sports car, which we spent a week in for 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track: Telematics And Infotainment.

But Hyundai didn’t want to stop there, adding the Equus to its portfolio in 2011 and giving the Genesis sedan an even more luxurious brother. Actually, that's not entirely true. The second-generation Equus surfaced first in South Korea back in '09; it didn't hit U.S. shores until two years later. Hyundai updated the Equus for its 2012 model year with an eight-speed automatic transmission and gasoline-direct injection-capable engines.

The 2014 Equus features exterior styling changes, an improved interior, and newer technology-oriented features. As soon as we saw it, we knew we wanted to jump in. After all, the idea of a luxury-oriented Hyundai seemed so foreign. Could it really contend with more expensive competition? Lucky for us, Hyundai's press car made a short stop in the Seattle area, giving us enough time for a week with the company's top-end offering.

You'll find the Equus in two trim levels: Signature and Ultimate. The Equus Signature starts with an MSRP of $61,000, while the Ultimate sells for an extra $7000. Upgrading to Ultimate, which reflects the car we're talking about today, adds a 360-degree backup camera, a 12.3-inch LCD gauge cluster, a heads-up display, power door closure, a power trunk lid, power rear-window sunshades, cooled rear seats, a rear-seat entertainment system, and haptic steering wheel controls. Priced almost three times as high as Hyundai’s more pedestrian Sonata, the Equus promises value in the luxury segment.

That word luxury conjures up certain imagery. Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW are the three brands you probably associate most closely with the concept. However, when you want a car with lavish functionality from one of those German contenders, it's easy to sail right past six-figure price tags. On the other hand, Hyundai's Equus sets its sights on Lexus' still-snazzy but not as stylish LS460, which starts north of $72,000.

Can Hyundai continue transcending its reputation as a purveyor of low-cost vehicles and storm the rarefied luxury space so brutally contested by the Germans and Japanese? Our week with the 2014 Equus should answer that question, at least from a technology enthusiast's point of view.

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  • 3 Hide
    radiovan , February 28, 2014 11:06 PM
    Hyundai and Kia sure have come a long way.
  • 4 Hide
    Blazer1985 , March 1, 2014 4:21 AM
    O.o it is an exact replica of a mercedes e-class. Even the interiors match completely... Or is it just me?
  • 6 Hide
    pilsner , March 1, 2014 5:59 AM
    Quote:
    O.o it is an exact replica of a mercedes e-class. Even the interiors match completely... Or is it just me?
    Yes, they took a lot of styling cues from Mercedes. The front grille, headlights and rear lights are quite similar to the E class Mercs. The first thing I thought when I saw the pictures on the first page of this article was "that looks like a Mercedes copy". Surely not coincidental - other Hyundai models look like 1-series or 3-series BMW. I do not think it is bad to take cues from successful design, it should just not be so obvious that it becomes the first thing people notice when they look at your car.
  • 2 Hide
    tuanies , March 1, 2014 6:59 AM
    All vehicle styling is derivative nowadays. However, the Equus is a pretty good Mercedes replica. But they are still new to the luxury class so they're banking on familiarity instead of trying to stand out for the people who want bargain luxury but still want people to ask if its a Mercedes Benz.
  • 6 Hide
    10tacle , March 1, 2014 7:31 AM
    Hyundai with this car is where Lexus and Infiniti were in the late 1980s: going after BMW and Mercedes flagships (7-series, S-class respectively). However, the difference is that Lexus and Infiniti are strictly a luxury car brand off their parent companies. This car is, well, still a Hyundai. It has a certain class stigma to it. If I had $70k to spend on a luxury ride, I'd rather buy a two year old off-lease certified car by Mercedes, BMW, or Audi over this thing brand new. Any day of the week. If Hyundai wanted to go after the top dogs, they should have spun off their own Luxury brand to shed the image of an economy-class Korean label. Besides, it remains to be seen how well these latest Korean cars that have come out looking pretty good over the last two or three years or so hold up long term. I wouldn't bet on them for a long term keeper.
  • 1 Hide
    brenro12 , March 1, 2014 7:45 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    O.o it is an exact replica of a mercedes e-class. Even the interiors match completely... Or is it just me?
    Yes, they took a lot of styling cues from Mercedes. The front grille, headlights and rear lights are quite similar to the E class Mercs. The first thing I thought when I saw the pictures on the first page of this article was "that looks like a Mercedes copy". Surely not coincidental - other Hyundai models look like 1-series or 3-series BMW. I do not think it is bad to take cues from successful design, it should just not be so obvious that it becomes the first thing people notice when they look at your car.
  • 2 Hide
    brenro12 , March 1, 2014 7:46 AM
    Actually, it's a copy of the Lexus LS 460 which is a copy of the Mercedes S Class.
  • 4 Hide
    BhimaJ , March 1, 2014 8:40 AM
    My Hyundai Elantra is a solid car. Having said that, if I had $70k to drop on a vehicle, it has to be something really special, something that represents the best of what we can engineer today in that class and a nod to inspire the future. Honestly there really isn't another luxury car in this price class that competes with the Tesla S. It is simply a technologically superior car to any of the others on the market in its class.
  • 1 Hide
    JoBales , March 1, 2014 1:19 PM
    Strange how when perceived low-cost company Volkswagen tried to release the high-end, technologically sophisticated VW Phaeton in the U.S. a while back, it didn't sell enough to continue the model here. But Hyundai sells the Equus and it seems to be the sweetheart of the car mags and blogs. Truthfully, I'd take the VW before the Hyundai. Of course, VW did start selling higher end products like the Toureg now. Maybe if they'd done this before offering the Phaeton the marketplace might have accepted it easier. Of course, the problem there is that when you get into the 70k-100k field that Phaeton was in, you are in competition with VW's Audi luxury division which, considering the two, would be a no-brainer.
  • -1 Hide
    tuanies , March 1, 2014 2:15 PM
    Quote:
    Strange how when perceived low-cost company Volkswagen tried to release the high-end, technologically sophisticated VW Phaeton in the U.S. a while back, it didn't sell enough to continue the model here. But Hyundai sells the Equus and it seems to be the sweetheart of the car mags and blogs. Truthfully, I'd take the VW before the Hyundai. Of course, VW did start selling higher end products like the Toureg now. Maybe if they'd done this before offering the Phaeton the marketplace might have accepted it easier. Of course, the problem there is that when you get into the 70k-100k field that Phaeton was in, you are in competition with VW's Audi luxury division which, considering the two, would be a no-brainer.


    That was their problem, they competed with themselves. The Phaeton wasn't much cheaper than the A8. The Equus is significantly cheaper than a comparable LS460 and on the LS you can't have adaptive cruise control with the executive rear seating in the same package.

    The Phaeton is an awesome car though.

  • 0 Hide
    pilsner , March 1, 2014 2:38 PM
    Quote:
    The Phaeton is an awesome car though.
    Yes, the only real problem that car ever had is the Volkswagen name. Otherwise it is an awesome luxury car, right up there with Mercedes S class etc., even surpassing them in some regards back when the Phaeton was new on the market. Good thing is that because of that flaw, it is a real bargain as a used car. Well, until the car needs a repair, that is. The youtube videos of the "Glaeserne Manufaktur" are awesome to watch.
  • 0 Hide
    Terry Perry , March 1, 2014 3:00 PM
    Except all cars after 3-4 years lose half their value in 4 years this car will be worth 40,000 $ if the millage isn't to high. Where a 20,000 will only lose 10,000 $ that is why it's stupid because you also have to take into the High Insurance you will pay on 70,000 $ car. Why I Don't do Porsche anymore lose to much money. My neighbor bought a 90,000 $ Porsche and in 3 years with 40,000 miles he could only get 60,000 $ He has 3 tickets in one year so it had to go.
  • 0 Hide
    JWHardy , March 1, 2014 7:20 PM
    The Equus has a TEN-year 100,000-mile powertrain warranty (not seven-year).
  • 1 Hide
    falchard , March 1, 2014 9:30 PM
    Definitely the best technology package for the vehicles you have reviewed thus far. Also I am pretty sure its the British who started using the control knob first, not the Germans.I don't see how this article was more than 3 pages for a tech site. I don't think anyone here cares about the case design as long as the internal components are good.
  • 0 Hide
    tuanies , March 1, 2014 9:55 PM
    Quote:
    Definitely the best technology package for the vehicles you have reviewed thus far. Also I am pretty sure its the British who started using the control knob first, not the Germans.I don't see how this article was more than 3 pages for a tech site. I don't think anyone here cares about the case design as long as the internal components are good.


    I believe iDrive may have been first. I don't know of any British Car that uses a control knob for the navi.
  • 0 Hide
    palladin9479 , March 2, 2014 6:07 AM
    Haha the Equus line is fairly population out here, and it's been around for a while. The two cars domestic cars that scream "I'm rich" are the Equus and Chairman. This is just them trying to bring them to the US that's all.
  • 0 Hide
    Lutfij , March 2, 2014 7:03 AM
    From almost every angle I see this car, it always reminds me of the Toyota Crown from its elegant exterior all the way to flushed angular designs.I still chalk this up as a really good production from a company like Hyundai.
  • 1 Hide
    tuanies , March 2, 2014 7:15 AM
    Quote:
    Haha the Equus line is fairly population out here, and it's been around for a while. The two cars domestic cars that scream "I'm rich" are the Equus and Chairman. This is just them trying to bring them to the US that's all.


    Yea, it took them long enough to bring the Equus over here. I believe the KDM Equus still has the 4 seat configuration with fridge in the back? The Chairman is an interesting car with its Mercedes powertrain. But, how do you say SsangYong? Is it just pronounced as it would without the extra S at the beginning?

    Quote:
    From almost every angle I see this car, it always reminds me of the Toyota Crown from its elegant exterior all the way to flushed angular designs.I still chalk this up as a really good production from a company like Hyundai.


    Ah the Toyota Crown. I love the 80s and 90s version so much.
  • 0 Hide
    tuanies , March 2, 2014 7:15 AM
    Quote:
    The Equus has a TEN-year 100,000-mile powertrain warranty (not seven-year).


    Fixed, thanks for pointing that out.
  • 1 Hide
    Lutfij , March 2, 2014 7:21 AM
    I think the Crown's are what set Toyota apart besides their Lexus' in the Luxury Division.
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