The 2014 Hyundai Equus: Aiming for luxury but still falling short

When news filtered out that the 2014 Hyundai Equus was priced at $61,000 for the base Signature model and just under $68,000 for the Ultimate Edition, I couldn’t help but think that there is a desperate attempt from the car maker to try to break through that glass ceiling into the world of top class luxury vehicles. However, as hard as they try, they definitely lack that “je ne sais quoi” that’s needed to compete in that market.

The 2014Hyundai Equus is a partially refreshed version of last year’s model with a redesigned grille and some more sophisticated technology inside the cabin. With a 5.0L V8 engine that slams 429HP down your throat with an 8-speed automatic transmission, the Equus is no slouch and clearly has a performance look and feel about it. Hyundai over the last several years has refined its fleet in order to compete against the top models in their respective classes. The Santa Fe, Genesis, and Sonata are all stiff competition for other top models and the Equus will certainly be aiming for similar success.

Having established a service warranty program that means that owners will not need to see the inside of a dealership in the first 3 years/36,000 miles, Hyundai is revealing a high level of confidence in its flagship sedan. In instances where there are service issues, Hyundai will come pick up your car and drop off a loaner until your current vehicle is repaired. Quite an ambitious service but one which you have to hope won’t be tested too often.

There is a gaggle of technology options that have been added to woo the younger owner and with features such as Lane Departure and Blind Spot Monitoring systems, an adjustable air suspension, redesigned 19-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, hands-free keyless entry, heated/cooled front seats, a navigation system displayed on a 9.2-inch screen, a three-zone climate control, a power rear sunshade, and a 17-speaker sound system, there’s absolutely no shortage of toys to play with. Interior comfort is enhanced by the extensive wood grain finish across the whole dash fascia and the rear touchscreen infotainment consoles almost make the Equus BMW-ish.

Hyundai are venturing into unchartered territory which Toyota, Honda and Nissan didn’t have the stones (or maybe the smarts) to do and that is enter the luxury car market to butt heads with the German and European carmakers using the current company name. Remember if you will that those other companies created Lexus, Acura and Infiniti to do that and for the most part were very successful in doing it.

At he end of the day however, the harsh reality for the 2014 Hyundai Equus is that it is still a Hyundai with a $70,000 price tag which is a bitter pill to swallow for anyone that has owned a BMW, Mercedes, Audi or Jaguar. Those brands have established their customer base and image over many years producing top line luxury cars, and obviously some have done it better than others. It appears then that Hyundai, at least for the short term, will have to rely on that smaller group of customers who don’t want to pay over $80K for a vehicle and aren’t too particular about the name on the hood.

Despite the obvious quality of the Equus, much work is needed to make that extra step.

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