When Hyundai announced it would launch its flagship sedan, the Hyundai Equus, in the United States, critics scoffed at the idea of a value-priced brand taking on the luxury market. After all, if Volkswagen failed in marketing its Phaeton through VW dealers, how could a brand like Hyundai possibly attract buyers for a car like the Equus? The answer, it turns out, is by using innovative positioning and personalized service to attract luxury buyers more impressed by content and value than by the logo adorning the front.
The Equus even looks the part of a luxury sedan, with its stately and conservative lines, prominent grille and undeniable presence. While the exterior styling doesn’t break any new grounds, neither does it copy the look of any single luxury rival. You can see the influences from the likes of Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, but the Equus is content to borrow from existing designs without copying them. Where it doesn’t copy its rivals is in pricing, as the Equus trumps the competition by thousands of dollars.
Under the hood lies Hyundai’s 5.0-liter Tau V-8, good for 429 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque and mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. That’s enough to get the Equus from a standstill to 60 mph in under six seconds, on par with its non-performance-oriented German and Japanese rivals. Don’t expect the Equus to dance with its rivals when the road gets twisty, however, since the sedan’s ride is geared more towards comfort than towards handling.
Inside, expect many of the same amenities you’d find in a Lexus LS or a BMW 7 Series, though the Hyundai’s interior fails to carry off the same sense of cutting-edge design. Items that are likely optional on rival sedans come standard on the Equus, including features like massaging front seats with heating and ventilation; rear seat climate controls; leather upholstery and interior trim; a heated steering wheel and a power rear sunshade. Stepping up from the base Signature model to the Equus Ultimate gets you items like a forward-looking camera system; a rear center console refrigerator (which limits rear seats to two passengers); power-adjustable rear passenger-side seat foot and head rests; a single screen DVD entertainment system and ventilated rear seats. If someone else does your driving for you, the Equus Ultimate is the version you want to order.
While front and rear seat passengers enjoy ample head and leg room, they also enjoy amenities like a sueded headliner, walnut or birch wood trim with metallic accents, premium leather and a ride that remains quiet and composed across all types of pavement, in spite of the car’s 20-inch wheels.
There are two more features that make the Equus appealing as well. Via Hyundai’s consultative buying service, an Equus specialist visits you at a time and place of your choosing, negating the need to actually set foot in a Hyundai dealership to test drive the car. Buy one, and Hyundai’s concierge service will pick the car up at your house or place of business when service is required, loaning you another Equus (or, at the least, a Genesis sedan) until the work on your car is completed. We can’t think of another manufacturer who offers buyers the incentive of time, which is a precious commodity for those in the Equus’ demographic. That you get all this for a price that starts at a mere $60,150 (including the obligatory $900 destination fee) only makes us question why rival products sticker for so much more money.
For additional details on the 2013 Hyundai Equus, see our comprehensive review on The Car Connection