The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2014 EQUUS New Car Review A Jewel Of A Luxury Sedan

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2014 EQUUS

By Michael Bernstein
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

EQUUS Only Needs Valet Effect

When many people choose to “buy the best” and spend lots of money whether buying a watch, a suit, a special wine or even a car, most buyers want everyone in their social or vocational circle to instantly recognize that the purchase was top-of-the-line, so they gravitate to those brands that communicate this fact without having to brag about the cost or quality of their purchase.

Historically special up-market brands and products have earned a ubiquitous understanding of what owning these brands mean.

A watch is watch but a Timex is not a Rolex and if you travel with the jet set you know that a suit from Oxxford Clothes is not the same as a suit from Men’s Warehouse, or a round of golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links ($475 per person, per round) is different from a round at a public course in your city, everyone knows this.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

But, the same logic cannot be applied to luxury sedans because the 2014 (Hyundai) EQUUS is every bit (and maybe more) than it’s more familiar (and accepted) German, Japanese and American competition offer, brands and nameplates that have earned their reputation as luxury vehicles that are believed to be well worth their inflated price. It’s what I term the “valet effect” and this reaction can be a curse for any automaker who wants to extend the reach and prestige of their brand by competing in the ultra-luxury segment.

Not too long ago VW introduced the Phaeton, a great car that failed not because of its quality, performance or looks but because it lacked the special brand prestige and the name recognition required in a purchase of this magnitude. To put it another way, most car buyers don’t want to spend $100,000 and than continually have to say; “no it’s not a Jetta”. This is the type of bias that the EQUUS has to overcome to compete successfully, even though the vehicle itself is truly a masterpiece of automotive engineering, design and performance and can compete heads-up with any luxury vehicle in its class.

The EQUUS was created by Hyundai after it benchmarked the world’s best vehicles, it then took the data and engineered a luxury sedan that is long on features and more than competitive on cost. At $62,920 this sedan is equal to and in many cases surpasses its more expensive and better reputation-ed and positioned luxury competition.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Much like Toyota did with Lexus, and Nissan with Infiniti, Hyundai also is trying to differentiate EQUUS by creating a unique logo for its flagship. This non-Hyundai identification is prominently displayed on the vehicle’s hood, just above the grill, on the core of the leather wrapped steering wheel and on the hub of the EQUUS’ 19-inch alloy wheel covering. Additional EQUUS branding is located on the metal nameplates that are on the custom front floor mats. In fact the only Hyundai mention anywhere in or on the vehicle is the corporate logo located on the trunk.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

From the moment it catches your eye, the EQUUS has that “look” that announces style and sophistication. Bold wheel wells, sleek body panels and unique lighting highlight the exterior’s design. These features flow together to create an aggressive but controlled line that defines the EQUUS’ visual appeal.

The interior contains all the elements and amenities expected, but they are presented in a very classy and convenient manner that reflects the time and dedication required to achieve a motorcar in this class. From the full leather upholstery to the crisp LED displays that dominate the driver’s IP, everything coordinates both in terms of style and function.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The driver is the focus and has complete control of all the features and options available, most at the touch of a button or the turn of a knob. This includes the NAVI, the video display, the Lexicon 7.1 Discrete Surround-Sound premium audio with 17 speakers and the three zone automatic climate control, but it’s the little niceties that are included that separate the EQUUS from the others. One of these is the driver’s ability to control the passenger seat with a two button control panel located on the seat’s side that will move the entire seat up or back and adjust the tilt of the passenger’s seat back.

Of course there is a separate 10-way power seat control located on the panel of the passenger side door, while the driver’s comfort is adjusted by the 12-way power and lumbar control. Both front seats are also heated and cooled at a touch of a button.

The driver can monitor and control all the vehicle’s systems and features through the 9.2” LCD screen or the various IP’s, info clusters and dials that adorn the dash and center arm rest. They are all easy to read and access.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The rear passenger area is truly a reflection of the front in both luxury appointments and control. A massive pull down arm rest contains finger tip control of the climate, audio and both seats. That’s not a typo, the back features 60/40 power reclining and heated seats. The EQUUS also features an innovative three zone automatic temperature control system with an air quality system that allows each area of the vehicle-driver, passenger and rear seat-to select their preference without affecting the other areas.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The EQUUS walks the fine line between an exhilarating driving experience and fuel economy thanks to the 5.0L GDI DOHC D-CVVT Tau®V8 engine. This engine is capable of producing 429HP with premium fuel or 421HP when regular is used. All this power is controlled by the 8-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC® that earned a respectable overall combined fuel economy of 18 MPG, highlighted by the 23 MPG on the highway the EQUUS earned from the EPA.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

On the road the EQUUS is responsive both in terms of its acceleration and in terms of its handling. The handling is enhanced greatly by the electronic stability control system that features traction control and brake assist. It also features an electronic air suspension.

Safety is achieved in part from the “Vehicle Stability Management” option that features pre-collision warning. The EQUUS also offers the driver the option of using the “Driver Mode Select System” that automatically adjusts the vehicle’s suspension, transmission shift points and braking to maximize performance. Three options are available-normal, sport and snow.

The 2014 EQUUS continues to put a premium on safety through a host of safety features that includes a whopping nine (9) airbags, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning. Lastly the EQUUS comes with the peace of mind that comes with a compressive roster of warranties that starts with the three year/36,000 mile “At Your Service” feature that offers a no cost maintenance and valet delivery service. The coverage then extends to the 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, to the seven year/unlimited mileage anti-perforation warranty and finishes with the five year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance.

So if you are in the market for a premium sedan, an independent thinker and want to separate yourself from the crowd, the 2014 EQUUS is worthy of consideration. EQUUS vs. BMW vs. Audi vs. Jaguar

Every feature and element mentioned in this review that contributes to making this an outstanding automobile, are included in the $68,000 MSRP, making the EQUUS a real game changer, just give it a chance.

Michael Bernstein is a contributing journalist of Marty Bernstein, Inc.