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Can a true luxury sedan like the Hyundai Equus, at $60,000 or more, carry the same badge or be sold in the same showroom as a $15k Accent? Through some innovative marketing and some personalized dealership services aimed at catering to luxury customers, the brand is already showing that it can indeed be done, and the Equus enters its third model year of irritating the likes of Infiniti and Lexus.
Even though Hyundai's Equus luxury sedan doesn't carry a special badge of its own--if you don't count the bird-like emblem that recurs throughout its interior and exterior--the 2013 Equus does look every bit like a luxury car, with a softer, more balanced and traditional look that borrows cues and themes from other prestigious sedans and flagship models. Think of it as having all the credibility of an LS 460 or an M37, with some seen-it-before exterior cues from German models, all while undercutting them by thousands on its pricetag. The Equus may not deliver the prestige or the handling of the best vehicles in its class, but it's a striking bargain for those who don't mind a more softly sprung luxury sedan, or a great deal.
Compared to V-8 luxury sedans from Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Lexus, and others, the 2013 Hyundai Equus measures up closely spec for spec—and it offers acceleration that's just as strong and refined. But it still doesn't come very close to matching those rivals in handling. Last year Hyundai gave the Equus an all-new Tau V-8, displacing 5.0 liters and making 429 horsepower. With the new eight-speed automatic transmission that accompanies the new engine, it can now do the dash to 60 mph in around six seconds, which is closely on pace with the BMW 7-Series, the Lexus LS and the Mercedes S Class. The drivetrain hustles this big sedan up to highway speeds quickly, accompanied by a brawny V-8 burble and ripple.
Hyundai isn't making any luxury marques nervous--at least not yet--but it comes the closest to its rivals when it comes to cabin appointments and interior comfort. The automaker clearly has studied the Lexus LS and benchmarked everything from fit and finish to the comfort of the seats. Front perches in the Equus are heated and ventilated, and there's a feature in which, like some competitors, the Equus driver seat can inflate and deflate some of its cushions to slowly massage the driver's back. The Equus Signature model gets a three-person bench seat, while the Ultimate comes with dual buckets. And in a nod to those who plan to have the driving done for them (this is a model also designed with Hyundai's home executive-car market in mind), the Ultimate has a reclining, massaging seat in back--but only on the passenger side.
Expectations are met up close as well; walnut or birch trim accents the instrument panel, and the cabin is trimmed out with fine leather. The headliner's sueded, just like the headliners in the top-line Jaguars, and the center console is framed in wood, with matte-metallic accents. It's all coordinated quite well, and more conservative than overt.Ride quality in the Equus is excellent, too, thanks to a well-controlled air suspension. Even with the 20-inch wheels and tires there's no harshness, and road and wind noise are kept away from the cabin.
Between the lavish cabin, the extensive standard-features list, and the white-glove service you'll get as a 2013 Equus buyer--all for an entry price of around $60k--this is one luxury sedan that won't leave you wanting in luxury features for the dollar.
Even on the base Signature model, the equipment list is vast, including leather upholstery, a moonroof, real wood trim, smart cruise control, a pre-collision warning system, front and rear parking assistance, a rearview camera, HID headlamps, heated and cooled front seats, and a heated steering wheel. For the connected crowd, the Equus has a navigation system controlled with a roller knob, an LCD display for its output, and for the audio system display, Bluetooth; and iPod connectivity. In addition, a majestic-sounding 608-watt Lexicon audio system with 17 speakers is included.
The Equus Ultimate brings limousine-like features, including a massaging rear seat with power headrest; a Lexicon audio system; a power trunklid; a forward-facing cornering camera; and a refrigerated bin tucked into the rear center console.