Hyundai's flagship is a laid-back and discreet luxury ride

2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate First Impressions

2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate First Impressions
The Equus is Hyundai’s flagship, even though the automaker seems reluctant to let it lead the flotilla. Hyundai hardly advertises the vehicle and seems content with its low profile and modest sales (116 units sold in each of its first two years on the market).

The Equus is a big player in Korea, however, so Hyundai probably doesn’t need it to swing for the fences here. Its Korean market history also had a hand in shaping its present form, which may not be dead-on for this market.

Let’s just give thanks that it is here, because the Equus is one unique and value-packed, big luxury ride -- and exclusive even, by virtue of its small sales play. You won’t see another on your block.

The revisions bestowed on it for model-year 2014 are right on the money.


What is the Hyundai Equus?
The Hyundai Equus is a full-size, rear-drive luxury sedan, equipped with a V8 engine and 8-speed transmission. The 5.0L direct-injection V8 produces 429 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque.

MSRP for the Signature model is $64,799. Our tester for the week was the only other model available (the Ultimate) which asks $$72,229.

Critics and consumers alike judged the 2011-‘12 model year cars as trying a bit too hard to impress -- too much chrome, too little refinement. So, the Equus now sports super-elegant 19” turbine-blade design wheels, instead of the previous super-bling shoes, and less chrome overall on its new front and rear facias. Those few changes have significantly altered the exterior vibe of the car. It looks quite classy.

2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate engine
The 5.0L direct-injection V8 produces 429 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. (Photo: Mike Goetz)

Driving the 2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate
On the road the Equus is a revelation in how far luxury has moved away from this particular formula. European competitors have long shown that high luxury and high dynamic performance are not mutually exclusive. Hyundai no doubt has the R&D chops to deliver that as well, it just didn’t happen in this generation Equus.

The 2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate is a big cushy ride and proud of it.

It doesn’t encourage you to throw it around, and you wouldn’t want to either. However, get into the mood of low-stress driving and the 2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate will reward with a very serene experience. The powerteam delivers effortless, smooth power at all times, and the suspension takes any and all road bumps and sends them into a black hole somewhere, never to be heard from again.

This “comfort above all” ethos may have evolved from the role the Equus has traditionally played in the Korean market: chauffeur-driven executive sedan.

The 2014 Hyundai Equus now features selectable modes that changes parameters for steering, for the Continuous Damping Control (CDC) “real time” suspension, and for the powertrain. Basically, Sport mode is sportier, Normal mode is more comfy, and a Snow mode was added to make the rear-drive-only Equus more all-weather savvy.

Sport mode is definitely sportier, but doesn’t change the nature of the 2014 Hyundai Equus.

2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate 3/4 view
On the road the Equus is a revelation in how far luxury has moved away from this particular formula. (Photo: Mike Goetz)

Inside and Out of the 2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate
Equus now has standard rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot detection. The Equus Ultimate models also have a heads-up display in the windshield. What’s fantastic is that the blind-spot warnings and navigation instructions can be selected to show up in the heads-up display. You are always aware of the cars around you, and you never have to do anything but stare straight ahead. It’s a big winner in my books.

The instrument panel and centre stack are all-new, and fit the new, more refined vibe of the Equus.

The new main screen is not a touchscreen, but a big controller and “get back buttons” mean you can always easily return to the main menu and never lose your way. There is also a “haptic” (touch feedback) dial control on the steering wheel for adjusting and selecting items via the screen in the gauge cluster.

The 2014 Hyundai Equus puts huge emphasis on backseat comfort. There are two 9.2” video screens mounted in the headrests and a “complete” set of controls for all the vehicle’s adjustable functions, in the fold-down armrest. It’s the largest and most complete rear-seat console I’ve ever seen.

The Ultimate models go further with power-door closing, and rear lumbar support.

Another cool feature is the credit-card style key fob, which can stay in your wallet.

Hyundai Equus Ultimate 2014 intérieur
The 2014 Hyundai Equus puts huge emphasis on backseat comfort. There are two 9.2” video screens mounted in the headrests and a “complete” set of controls for all the vehicle’s adjustable functions, in the fold-down armrest. (Photo: Mike Goetz)

Comparing the 2014 Hyundai Equus

There is no shortage of big, rear-drive V8 luxury sedans. At the higher end, you have the BMW 7 Series ($106,600-plus), Mercedes-Benz S-Class ($100,000-plus), Audi A8 ($108,000-plus), Jaguar XJ ($89,000-plus), Lexus LS ($82,950-plus), and so on…

The closest competitor to the Equus in price might be the Infiniti M56, whose 5.7L V8, rear-drive model, starts at $67,400.

By Mike Goetz,

No comments