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

A Smooth V8 And Eight-Speed Transmission

Driving the Equus' rear wheels is Hyundai’s own 5.0 L Tau V8 engine, featuring dual continuously variable valve timing (D-CVVT) and gasoline direct injection (GDI). The motor makes a respectable 429 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. Compared to Lexus' LS460, which we know Hyundai is gunning for, the Equus' Tau offers 43 more horsepower.

A lot of manufacturers are using the fantastic ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic transmission. But Hyundai mates its V8 engine to an in-house-developed eight-speed transmission, which we first encountered on the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, tested last year. Back then, we found it to be clumsy as it hunted for gears. But I was happy to see those issues rectified in Hyundai's 2014 Equus. Shifts are much smoother, yielding a more refined experience.

The powertrain combination yields an EPA-estimated 15 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway, which is actually pretty low considering what some of Hyundai's competitors achieve in the luxury sedan space. My lead-footed driving yielded fuel economy in the mid-teens, unsurprisingly.

Hyundai employs an air suspension system with active damping to keep the Equus’ 4616 pounds planted. It constantly monitors vehicle behavior and adjusts the damping forces accordingly. The car has a Sport mode that firms up the suspension for supposedly-better handling, but the Equus isn’t exactly a sporty land barge to begin with. More important is that the air suspension keeps Hyundai's flagship at the same ride height and pitch, no matter how bad the road conditions get.

Between the heavy chassis, big engine, and comfortable suspension, driving around in the Equus is smooth. Step on the gas and Hyundai's V8 demonstrates its torque, but in luxury car fashion. That is to say, there is no neck-snapping acceleration. You are propelled forward with authority, though. And you have to be careful because that's how you get yourself into trouble on the highway. The car feels like it's doing 60, while you're really at 85 or 90.

Pressing the drive mode button puts the Equus in Sport mode, firming up its suspension and changing the LCD gauge cluster lighting accepts from blue to red. Just don't expect a dramatic change in behavior. The Equus doesn't inspire the same level of confidence as Audi's A8L. It is more on par with the LS460, I'd say. In fact, it's more exciting to drive than the Lexus, which works out well for this car's target demographic.

  • 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