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2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate Road Test

The 2014 Hyundai Equus may look Camry-tame, but don't judge it just yet.

What It Is
A spacious luxury sedan for buyers who want every available luxury.
Best Thing
Stunning power and acceleration.
Worst Thing
Below average fuel economy even for its class.
Snap Judgment
It may not be the most dynamic-looking car on the market, but it has everything you could want.


Very few people outside the car industry seem to know what an Equus is. When I show it to people I know, they become even more confused. The car's style and even the logo slapped on its back aren't recognizable as belonging to any one brand.

To clear the air, the Equus is Hyundai's large flagship sedan that competes in the luxury segment. It separates itself from the Hyundai lineup with unique badging that signals exclusivity. There are always high expectations for a flagship sedan, particularly when people don't know who you are. That is why Hyundai brought its top game to this car, stuffing it full of technology, premium leather, and plenty of safety features. And to top it off, this car costs much less than a comparable BMW, Lexus, or Mercedes-Benz. But the question remains: Is the Equus compelling enough to take home and park in your driveway?

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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What We Drove

The Equus is available in two trim levels. Starting at $61,000, standard features are plentiful: push button start, park assist, leather seat surfaces, navigation, heated and cooled front seats, three automatic zone climate control, and more. The model we drove was the upper trim Ultimate model. This package, worth $7,000, tacked on an advanced head-up display, rear seat entertainment system, power trunk lid, and upgraded rear seats with lumbar and cooling functions. When adding in the destination fee, the total cost came to $68,920.

But is safety a dealbreaker? No. As you can imagine since it is a large family sedan, the Equus scored well in crash test ratings. Although the government has not yet rated this sedan, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave top scores of "Good" in front, side, roof, and head restraint tests. Standard safety features on this model include nine airbags, blind spot detection system, lane departure warning, brake assist, pre-collision warning, and more.

The Commute

Simply put, the Equus is deceptively fast. Yes, it might have the face of a Sonata, but it also has the engine of a top sports car. A whopping 430 horsepower emanates from a huge 5.0-liter V-8 engine. Accelerating feels amazing, and drivers will have no problem passing other cars on the highway. Zipping in and out of lanes is also not an issue. Does the Equus need this much power? Probably not, but we weren't complaining.

That is until we went to fill it up. The Equus' fuel economy comes in at 15/23 mpg city/highway, which is less than similarly-powered cars like the Mercedes-Benz S550, Lexus LS 460, Audi A8, and BMW 750i.

Partially making up for this, the Equus provides a smooth and quiet ride. All road imperfections seem to disappear when driving in this car. This is thanks to the Equus' electronically-controlled air suspension for a firm ride. Three driving modes—including Normal, Sport, and Snow—enhance a driver's feeling of control.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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The Grocery Run

Perhaps the best word to describe the Equus is "accommodating". Hyundai went beyond what is necessary to make it easy to park and stow everything you need. A multi-view camera system goes beyond a standard rear camera, giving drivers an aerial view of the car to show where it is positioned in a parking space.

On top of this, the Equus beats competitors from Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW in the amount of interior space it provides. With 126 cubic feet of space, there is plenty of room for passengers and cargo. Loading groceries in the back is easy. Although the trunk isn't deep, it extends far in the back to accommodate groceries for the whole family.

The Weekend Fun

During the week, we achieved a solid grasp over how the car drives in city and highway traffic. But on the weekend, we delved deeper and also tested out some of the most important features on this model.

While you may not think of the Equus as a fun weekend car, we enjoyed our time spent with this model. Its fast acceleration makes morning rides to the beach rewarding, and its soft seats make it comfortable on any long drive.

The Hyundai Equus offers navigation as a standard feature on the base model. For the most part, the system was easy to use, although we didn't like that the turn-by-turn directions are listed from the bottom up rather than down the screen as you would read a book. This is why we relied on the head-up display, which not only projects speed information but also displays information on upcoming turns.

Although you might not think so, given the car's $60,000+ price, the Hyundai Equus actually provides plenty of goodies for the money. Features including heated/cooled front seats and lane departure warning are typically options on competitors, but these come standard on the Equus. We think this is probably the Equus' main selling point for most buyers.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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Summary

Other than its undesirable fuel economy, there isn't much to dislike about the Equus. But does that mean it's the car to buy?

Business executives will find this sedan comfortable, as will empty nesters and those looking to step up to serious luxury. For its target audience, however, we feel like the car is overpowered. We also question its high ownership costs, as Intellichoice rates it below average. Many larger families will want to look at luxury crossovers like the Lexus RX to suit their need for plenty of space and luxury. Still, we think it may be a good fit for those who want a luxury sedan but aren't concerned about brand cache. For those who want every luxury feature for a value price, this sedan may be the best option out there.

Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $68,920
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 15
EPA Highway: 23
EPA Combined: 18
Cargo Space: 15 grocery bags Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Fair
Estimated Combined Range: 365 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Poor

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