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

Hyundai Introduces Its $70,000 Equus

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.

  • 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