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The rear-wheel-drive Equus and Genesis premium sedans at the top of Hyundai's lineup have, without a separate luxury badge, already put the brand within striking distance of Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Lexus, and Jaguar—if you don't need the cachet of those luxury badges, that is. And if that's the case, it's definitely worth taking a look at the 2014 Hyundai Equus, which otherwise looks and feels every bit like a luxury vehicle.
The Equus has been refreshed this year with a more cohesive design, new materials, new active-safety features, and even more high-end luxury features.
With a new grille design and front bumper fascia, as well as standard LED front fog lamps and new turbine-blade wheels (plus new side mirrors and rear graphics), the 2014 Equus gets a new look that's not only sharper but looks like an upmarket relation to the roomy Azera sedan introduced last year. Inside, the instrument panel and center stack have been completely redesigned, with a softer yet more upright look, shedding the 'executive car' layout of last year's model and taking on a look also in line with Hyundai's latest, sleekest models. Complementing that are a new shift-lever design, new premium real wood trim, and redesigned rear-seat controls.
The powertrain carries over; which is a good thing. The 429-horsepower 'Tau' V-8, fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission that you can shift manually when desired. The V-8 has all the latest technologies, such as direct injection, dual continuously variable valve timing, and tuned variable induction, and the combination can hustle this sedan to 60 mph in about six seconds—accompanied by, as we've found in previous model years, by an atypical (for a luxury sedan) brawny burble and ripple. Fuel economy ratings are 15 mpg city, 23 highway.
The Equus leans toward the luxury side of the line that divides crisp handling response and a comfortable, isolated ride. An air suspension on all Equus models includes Sport and Normal modes, which have been recalibrated this year for more separation (better handling and more comfort, respectively), and front suspension bushings have been upgraded. It's quite softly sprung now in Comfort mode, while its Sport mode is still not quite to the Lexus LS F Sport's level of tautness--not to mention anything floated in on a freighter from Germany or the U.K.
The Equus was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick, and for 2014 some important active-safety features have been added. A Blind-Spot Detection system is now standard, and on the Ultimate model there's a head-up display. Ultimate models also include a multi-view camera system. Both models include a Rear Cross-traffic Alert system, and a lane departure warning system is available, with audible and visual warnings and even a haptic seatbelt warning. Smart cruise control is also available. Nine airbags (including a driver's knee bag), active front-seat head restraints, and Brake Assist are included across the lineup.
Even the Equus Signature comes as an extremely well equipped luxury car, with more standard features than many models from prestige marques. HID headlamps, LED front fog lights and exterior lamps, rain-sensing wipers, water-repelling front glass, heated power-folding mirrors, and a heated windshield are all standard; and inside the Signature includes leather upholstery, heated-and-cooled front seats, a 12-way memory driver's seat, full steering-wheel controls, a sunroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, real wood leather accents, smart cruise control, a power rear sunshade, proximity entry, push-button start, HomeLink, and a 17-speaker Lexicon surround sound system. A navigation system with XM traffic and weather data, Gracenote, and 30GB storage is also included.
Limousine-like Equus Ultimate models on top of all that add a rear entertainment system with dual 9.2-inch screens, rear-seat audio and climate controls, upgraded instrument-cluster displays, power door closures, a power rear seat, cooled rear seats, a cornering camera, power side sunshades, and a head-up display.