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

A Solid Value For A Simple Luxury Sedan

Hyundai puts together a compelling luxury offering for a specific audience with lots of money to spend, yet able to look past brand image. I'll be the first to admit that this isn't easy. It'd be hard to spend nearly $70,000 and not be a little judgmental of nice cars in the same price range. Perhaps the best thing that Hyundai did, though, was cramming features that other companies charge for into two trim levels. An S-class starts in the $90,000 range. A 7-series starts around $74,000. The A8 starts just over $75,000. But it's super easy to push all of those well over $100,000. But the Equus can be had with adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, a 360-degree view camera, navigation, a V8 engine, and more for under $70,000. That makes it one of the best values you'll find in this space, simply comparing cost to the features you get.

The bundled driver aids are smartly integrated and come in quite handy. I really dig heads-up displays, and the Equus' yields lots of useful information, minimizing the amount of time I spent looking down at the gauge cluster. It's nice to have a tachometer in the HUD, but this isn't a performance-oriented car, so we'll defer to the benefit of minimalism. By only including the information you need, it becomes easier to use the HUD. Blind spot and lane departure notifications definitely qualify as important, so we're glad they're part of the projected display, too.

Hyundai's adaptive cruise control is a standard feature on both Equus trims, and once you get used to having it, you won't want to go back. Lexus and the Germans continue nickel-and-diming their customers by selling this as a separate option, typically in very pricy packages with other driver aids that come standard on the Equus.

I'm still not fond of LCD-based clusters. Simply replacing analog gauges with digital representations seems so counterproductive. Either design gauges that are even more readable, or stick to the responsive needles apparently so difficult to mimic well. There’s a lot that can be done with an LCD gauge cluster in terms of visual customization. But Hyundai uses the screen as a static display, which strikes me as uninspired. 

On the other hand, the Equus' infotainment system is nice and quick. It could definitely use Web connectivity though, and app support for Internet radio would be nice as well. Compared to the Japanese and German competition, Hyundai still comes up short in the feature department. A QWERTY keyboard layout and control knob don't go well together at all. The analog radio skin is a little cheesy as well. But I was most annoyed by the lack of a digital clock anywhere in the infotainment display or gauge cluster. The analog timepiece is classy, sure. It just seems ludicrous to pull the digital readout altogether, particularly when Hyundai's less expensive cars have this feature. At least make it an option in the infotainment system's settings.

As a passenger in the Equus, you feel like you're on a comfy sofa, which naturally isn't bad in the luxury segment. The inclusion of a Sport mode feels more like a friendly gesture than a meaningful feature able to make the car more fun to drive. With that said, though, Hyundai's 5.0-L V8 and in-house eight-speed automatic transmission work together to deliver plenty of power, smoothly. 

Ultimately, the Equus tackles a market more worried about prestige than value, making it tough to get emotionally involved with. This isn't helped by a handful of glaring style, interface, and finishing faux pas that we can't imagine the Germans making. But this car company, known best for its affordable mid-sized and compact cars, has changed our minds once before. It's not a stretch to imagine refinements further enhancing the Equus' position relative to heavier hitters in the ~$70,000 space.

That price tag is what's sure to give high-end buyers a moment of pause. You really do get a lot of vehicle for less than seventy large. Hyundai backs this beast with a five-year, 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and ten-year, 100,000 powertrain guarantee to sweeten the deal. Knowing how much it costs to service a fancy tech-laden automobile, we appreciate the peace of mind. If you're able to get past the Hyundai badge as you write a sizable check, the Equus is a hidden gem in the luxury market. It doesn't come with any groundbreaking technology for enthusiasts to lust over. Rather, it's a fairly simple (by today’s standards) throwback to the early days of Lexus, when the LS400 was considered great bang for your buck versus the Germans.