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2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate: dripping luxury and coddling people

2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate
2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate
- photo by ALAN GELL

It was the middle of July, which is almost the peak of 'hot' in Texas. So, when I found a new 2014 luxury Equus delivered for a week-long test drive, I was understandably pleased. I knew instinctively that I would be coddled in almost every premium feature, including cooled seats window shades, and strong air conditioning. Oh yeah, the ride turned out to be pretty good also.

2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate
- photo by ALAN GELL

The Hyundai Equus is very conservatively-looking, almost nondescript in appearance, but competing in the full-size luxury car class. There are only two models available, the Signature or the Ultimate. $61k for the first and $68k for the second. That $7,000 brings you a lot more added features, but there are no packages or pick-and-choose options. A knee-jerk reaction from some readers might be, “That certainly is high-priced for a Hyundai.” However, the full-size luxury sedan market does not sell cars because of bargain prices, but on what can be offered to the more discriminating buyer.

With the name Equus, I thought maybe this was a bit of a horse-styled vehicle with a horsy attitude. Perhaps. But a horse is just a horse. When you say Equine, it usually denotes a more upscale and carefully bred animal. Maybe I am stretching to make a connection with Equus vs. Equine, but Hyundai is a company that offers good vehicles. The Equus is upscale and carefully crafted. There is no doubt that this is a luxury vehicle specifically designed for the upper-echelon of automotive owners.

The exterior does not necessarily capture your attention, such as might happen with a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or an Audi A8. These, as well as the Lexus LS, BMW 7 Series, and the Cadillac XTS all have that uniqueness that does not convey 'gorgeous', although some of them are at least striking or eye-catching. But this class of cars are not sold because of their looks. It is more like describing some people. 'It's what's inside that counts.' Maybe champion race horses are the same way. They are judged and win by their performances and not on their external appearance.

Actually, the Equus is not really a new car. It has been around the Middle East area since 1999, but it was called a Centennial. I suppose a lot of those rich oil sheiks enjoyed the high-end luxury appointments. The Centennial was a rear-wheel-drive model and only available in non-western countries. Hyundai vehicles have sold well in the United States, so with the rapid recovery of the automotive industry and sales, Hyundai introduced the car under the name Equus with some slight changes, a new V8 engine, and front-wheel-drive. Hyundai unveiled the 'new' 2011 Equus at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show and I was there. I liked this sedan from the first and still am enamored with it.

For those who feel the need, the Equus is even offered in a bulletproof presidential limousine edition that includes a more powerful version of that V8 engine. I suppose that is needed for a fast get-away, much like a thoroughbred racehorse departing from a gathering of range animals.

The Equus is a luxury car. How many times can I repeat that? For 2014, Hyundai provided some freshening-up, although nothing dramatic. There is a re-styled front grille that does not even display the Hyundai logo. There are new LED fog-lamps, new 19-inch alloy wheels, and a lot of tweaking on the inside. The test-drive Ultimate model has limousine-like accommodations for both front and rear seat passengers. There are heated and cooled seats, lumbar support, rear side window sunshades, an almost silent cabin, and doors that politely close themselves one they have been pulled to the 'almost-closed' position.

The interior of the Equus drips luxury and opulence. There is obviously an abundance of leather and wood. The seating is more than comfortable – it is relaxing. The large rear seats actually recline, allowing the feel of a limousine. The center console allows the dials, switches, and other controls to be easily reached. The navigation system is voice-activated and there is a luxury audio system featuring 17 speakers. Also included is a rear-seat entertainment system with a 9.2 inch monitor, a forward-view cornering camera, and a 12.3 inch instrument cluster display. These are all included with the base pricing.

Pricing is the forte of the Hyundai Equus. It beats all the competition hands-down, and that is in equine language. The Signature model Equus is $61,000. The Ultimate model has a base of $68,000. There is a $920 destination and delivery charge. So, the bottom sticker price on the 2014 test model was $68,920. It is EPA rated at 23-mpg highway with an estimated average of 18 mpg. The Equus is undeniably a terrific car for the price. It is packed with luxury features. It is comfortable. It is quiet. It is powerful. It is easy to drive and fun to drive.

If you are in the market for a high-end, upscale car to drive to your next equine event, or simply on a daily basis, check out the 2014 Equus at a Hyundai dealership. You won’t be saying “Neigh” or “Nay” very long. Instead, you’ll be riding high in the saddle.