The Infotainment System
The Equus is armed with an infotainment system that forgoes touchscreen input, instead employing a control knob mounted in the center console. A 9.2-inch LCD screen displays a tweaked version of Hyundai’s infotainment software, which is Windows CE-based. The interface looks familiar (it resembles the version we saw in the 2013 Santa Fe Sport), but Hyundai clearly added a few tweaks to better-address its target market.
That big 9.2-inch screens sports a resolution of 800x480, which we'd consider pretty much standard for 16:9 aspect ratios in the automotive world. Unfortunately, while our smartphones and tablets feature FHD and QHD panels, infotainment systems seems stuck in the early 2000s. Even still, Hyundai gives us nothing to complain about; pixel density and graphics quality are both ample from the driver's seat. Glare was never an issue during our week driving around in the Equus, either.
To be honest, I was initially excited about the infotainment system's control knob. I prefer physical input over touchscreens, after all. But as I mentioned on the third page, the knob isn't placed well. It was too far back on the center console, forcing me to bend my wrist rather than turning the knob in a more relaxed position.
However, my biggest issue with the Equus' infotainment system is its text input function. Audi, BMW, and Mercedes all facilitate text input by mapping the alphabet in a circular fashion, corresponding to the knob. Hyundai sticks with a QWERTY layout though, which is incidentally how we can tell that the system was designed primarily with touchscreen input in mind. QWERTY is great for tapping letters when you're using the interface like a keyboard. But the same cannot be said for navigating with a control knob. It's not a pleasant experience.
Hyundai wouldn't tell us what hardware platform it's using to drive the infotainment system, but the controls are responsive. We didn't perceive any lag or stuttering during our time with the Equus. Its system does have a 64 GB SSD installed, though. Hyundai reserves half of the capacity for map and system data, but gives you access to the remaining space for music storage.
Don't expect many bells or whistles when it comes to musical extras. The Equus supports AM/FM HD Radio, SiriusXM, USB flash drives, auxiliary input, and old fashioned optical discs. What you see on-screen reminds us Hyundai's Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport, except for the radio component. Exclusive to the Equus is a more classic-looking skin that resembles an old radio. It even has the red needle overlaying the tuning frequencies. We've never seen this in a Hyundai, but it is a pretty blatant rip-off of Mercedes-Benz. Not that we blame the company; the system is more intuitive and easier to use.
Getting your own songs to play back is as simple as browsing individual tracks or music folders, and if you have corresponding album art, that's displayed whenever a song is on. We didn't run into any compatible trouble with our Patriot Autobahn 16 GB flash drive. Of course, there's always that SSD too, right? You can copy up to 30 GB of content to the drive through USB.
The Equus' navigation software looks like what we've seen in other Hyundai and Kia cars. Maps look alright, though they're flat compared to the 3D maps with elevation data available elsewhere. Nevertheless, you get a ton of destination search options, along with integrated traffic data. Fancy this platform is not, and it doesn't stand up to more refined solutions like Audi's MMI. But you'll find it easy to use and free of glaring faults.
Phone connectivity is fairly standard. I hooked in with our reference Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Cyanogenmod 10 and my personal HTC One running Cyanogenmod 11. Functionality includes hands-free calling, phonebook transfers, and a record of call history. There weren't any call quality issues to speak of from either test phone, either.
Not surprisingly, the Equus supports Hyundai Blue Link telematics functionality, which facilitates access to the Equus though an integrated 3G cellular modem. We covered Hyundai Blue Link extensively in 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track: Telematics And Infotainment; the features remain the same.
Overall, I find the Equus' infotainment system easy to use. There are some shortcomings compared to other luxury-oriented vehicles. For instance, a lack of support for Internet radio apps like Pandora is disappointing. Incidentally, Lexus' LS460, which Hyundai is targeting, does give you Pandora, along with other apps. But the Equus' features work well enough for a satisfactory experience.