In less than a generation here, Korea’s Hyundai evolved from an entry level automaker with questionable quality, to a brand with one of the most respected lineup of mainstream cars and utilities available. Then, to top it all off, three years ago they entered the full-size luxury sedan segment with the Equus. While it didn’t set the car world on fire, it did show how serious Hyundai is about becoming a premium brand. Now for 2014 the Equus is refined to help further the cause.
If you’re a CFO who wants to impress the CEO with your frugality and wise decision making, the 2014 Hyundai Equus may be a smart choice. However if you’re a top-tier sports agent looking to make an impression on the latest #1 draft pick, maybe not so much.
And that gets to the heart of the matter of who exactly would pay $70,000 for this very luxurious Hyundai. Indeed, dollars and what you get for them is truly the whole story of the Equus.
In fact, that applies to any luxury item. When you dole out a high 5-figure sum for a wristwatch, are you doing it because of the quality of the timepiece, for the image of the product, or for what it says about you to those that see it on your wrist? Alas, these are often emotional questions that can’t possibly be answered by a road test, especially when it keeps us from talking about what’s new for the Equus in 20-14.
So, down to business. Equus looks have definitely improved with a new front end with an updated grille, tweaked bumper, and LED fog lamps. There’s also the unique Equus logo and with the Ultimate trim, a forward-view cornering camera.
There’s a little more Genesis to the styling now, which is a good thing. And there also seems to be a bigger Mercedes and BMW influence, as if Hyundai is no longer afraid to let everyone know just what the Equus is aimed at. There is a new 19-inch wheel design, and reshaped side mirrors, and in back there are slightly modified tail lamps.
When you go from looking to driving the Equus, the feel is decidedly more Benz than Bimmer. It may feel a little vanilla and lack personality, but it reminds us very much of that original Lexus LS400; a very nice copy of very good luxury cars. And while sales numbers will not be great, we can see quite a few people getting a great buy in the used market in a few short years.
The ride is very smooth and interior ultra-quiet. The entire powertrain is silky and powerful and you can hardly hear a peep out of it. Seats are clearly long distance compliant. The only things really holding it back are the wishy/washy suspension, wandering steering, and ultra-lack of character.
That seamless motivation comes from Hyundai’s 5.0-liter Direct Injection V8. Here, depositing 429-horsepower and 376 lb-ft. of torque to the rear wheels with the help of an 8-speed automatic transmission.
High horsepower, low torque means it pulls best in the higher RPM range, but there’s still a stout heave off the line that got us to 60 in a fine 6.4-seconds. Once the power started pouring on in earnest, it was unfortunately accompanied by slow and mushy shifts; still our ¼-mile time of 14.8-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour is pretty good.
With lots of roll and zero steering feel, Equus doesn’t particularly enjoy being pushed hard in corners. But you can dial in a small amount of euro-style firmness with the air suspension in Sport mode. The Continuous Damping Control system has been tweaked to provide more of a separation between Sport and Normal modes, and a Snow mode has been added.
While braking feel is also very soft, with plenty of dive, our average stopping distance of 127-feet from 60 is good for a 45–hundred pound luxury car.
Interior alterations include a modernized instrument panel and center stack with improved materials and layout. The increased posh-ification works its way down the center console as well, and there are added controls on the steering wheel.
There are additional color and wood trim options; and while the flat, linear approach takes a page out of the BMW book, it certainly looks the big premium vehicle part. Comfort appointments like rear entertainment, sun shades, and jammin’ stereo system are all available.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 15-City, 23-Highway, 18-Combined. Our average of 18.7 miles-per-gallon of Premium was right on. Still, the Energy Impact Score is poor at 18.3-barrels of annual oil consumption, with CO2 emissions of 8.3 tons.
The Equus is available in Signature and Ultimate packaging with prices starting at $62,170.
A fine car is more than the sum of its parts. And while the 2014 Hyundai Equus might have most of the parts necessary to justify its price, the whole still comes up short. Truly a nice effort, but Hyundai still has a long way to go to challenge the best luxury brands. But, then, that’s pretty much the same thing we said about Lexus and Infiniti way back when. So, we’re not betting against them.
Torque: 376 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.8 seconds @ 98 mph
EPA: 15 mpg city/ 23 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 18.3 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 8.3 tons/yr