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

A Sweet Head-Up Display And Gauge Cluster

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.

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.

  • Hyundai and Kia sure have come a long way.
    Reply
  • Blazer1985
    O.o it is an exact replica of a mercedes e-class. Even the interiors match completely... Or is it just me?
    Reply
  • pilsner
    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.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    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.
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    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.
    Reply
  • brenro12
    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.
    Reply
  • brenro12
    Actually, it's a copy of the Lexus LS 460 which is a copy of the Mercedes S Class.
    Reply
  • BhimaJ
    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.
    Reply
  • JoBales
    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.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    12788079 said:
    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.

    Reply