Full 2014 Hyundai Equus Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Hyundai Equus gets revised front and rear styling along with more in-depth changes inside where there are updates to the instrument panel, control layout and various materials. There are also new safety features, including BlueLink telematics and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert systems, as well as slight suspension modifications. The Ultimate model now seats three in the rear.
Although large luxury sedan ownership is often associated with free spending and creating an impression of wealth, the 2014 Hyundai Equus is aimed at consumers who are fiscal conservatives at heart. Accordingly, the Equus is loaded to the brim with premium amenities and high-tech safety equipment, yet it costs up to tens of thousands of dollars less than the elite full-size luxury sedans your neighbors may be driving.
In spite of its bargain price tag, the 2014 Equus is not an analog of the knock-off Gucci purse or Rolex watch. In many ways, Hyundai's top luxury sedan is every bit the real deal. Its cabin is exceptionally quiet and its front and rear seating areas are opulent and spacious. Then there's the compliant suspension that delivers a fine ride, smothering all but the largest potholes.
On a rational level, the Hyundai Equus should be in the running if you're shopping for a full-size luxury sedan. The problem is that there's also an emotional element to driving and owning a luxury sedan, and when you get behind the wheel of the Equus, you realize the "you get what you pay for" philosophy still applies: The 2014 Equus doesn't steer or handle like the top-tier luxury sedans, and its interior materials, while clearly a cut above mainstream Hyundais, don't exhibit the outright extravagance of the furnishings seen in the elite European sedans.
The Equus also faces stiff competition from lower priced luxury sedans like the 2014 Cadillac XTS and Hyundai's own 2014 Genesis sedan (which is only slightly smaller than the Equus). The XTS is a particularly compelling proposition, as it checks all the same boxes as the Equus, yet offers a more engaging driving experience and, on an intangible level, a great deal more panache. Unquestionably, there's value here, and we awarded the car a "B" grade in our 2014 Hyundai Equus rating. But it's also the kind of value that's more satisfying on paper than it is from the behind the wheel.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Hyundai Equus is a rear-wheel-drive, full-size luxury sedan available in two trim levels, Signature and Ultimate, both of which seat five.
The Equus Signature comes standard with 19-inch wheels, an adjustable air suspension, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, LED fog and running lights, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert systems, automatic wipers, a windshield wiper de-icer, a power-closing trunk, a sunroof and keyless ignition and entry.
Inside you get tri-zone automatic climate control, rear seat climate controls, heated and ventilated power front seats (12-way driver and 10-way passenger), driver seat memory functions, heated power-reclining rear seats, leather upholstery, extended leather interior trim, a heated power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a power rear sunshade and an auto-dimming mirror.
Electronic features include Hyundai's BlueLink telematics system; Bluetooth phone connectivity; a navigation system with a 9.2-inch display and real-time traffic information; and a 17-speaker Lexicon audio system with discrete surround-sound capability, satellite radio, HD radio, a six-CD/DVD changer, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Equus Ultimate adds power-actuated soft-close doors, a power trunk lid, a full LCD instrument panel, a head-up windshield display, forward-facing and surround-view cameras, power-operated rear-seat sunshades, power lumbar adjustment for the outboard rear seats, rear-seat head-restraint adjustment, ventilated rear seats, rear vanity mirrors and a dual-screen DVD entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Hyundai Equus comes standard with a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 429 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission are standard. According to EPA estimates, the Equus returns 18 mpg combined (15 city/23 highway).
In Edmunds performance testing, the Equus went from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, which is about average for a large, V8-powered luxury sedan.
The 2014 Equus comes standard with antilock brakes; stability and traction control; lane-departure, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems; a pre-collision warning and preparation system (using the adaptive cruise control sensors); front and rear side airbags; side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. The BlueLink telematics system provides emergency assistance, remote vehicle access, stolen vehicle recovery and geo-fencing. On the Equus Signature, you also get front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera, while the Ultimate adds both a forward-view cornering camera and a surround-view camera system to make the big sedan less intimidating to maneuver in tight spaces.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Equus came to a stop from 60 mph in 127 feet, which is longer than average for this class.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Equus its highest rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength crash tests. The Equus' seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The interior of the Equus never was an unlivable place, but upgrades to the instrument panel and dash deliver a higher-tech look in the 2014 version. Both versions of the Equus come with a 9.2-inch display for the navigation system. It's pretty easy to use, too, as most infotainment functions are controlled via a rotary knob on the center console.
The Ultimate model looks even more cutting-edge, as it gets a full LCD instrument panel: The speedometer and tachometer look like traditional analog dials, but they're digital in reality. Another feature that's rare even in this class is the Equus Ultimate's standard head-up display (HUD). It not only projects basic information (such as speed) onto the windshield, but also turn-by-turn instructions from the navigation system.
The front seats could stand more support, but if you prefer softer, cushier seats, you probably won't mind them. The ventilation feature for the front seats actually provides chilled air, which is a total treat in muggy weather.
The leather, wood trim and plastics in the 2014 Hyundai Equus are all of acceptable quality for a car in this price range, but they're still not in the same league as what you'll find in costlier competitors. At least there's plenty of space: Rear occupants will have plenty of legroom in any Equus, and in the Ultimate trim, which now seats three instead of two, there's a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system and lumbar adjustment for the outboard seats; alas, the massage feature has been discontinued. Trunk capacity is a respectable 16.7 cubic feet.
Smaller engines are steadily finding their way into modern luxury sedans, but the 2014 Hyundai Equus is a flagship of the old school variety and thus only comes with a 5.0-liter V8. Although this V8 lacks the effortless low-end thrust of those in more expensive German-brand sedans, this grand Hyundai is anything but slow. The engine is generally silent, but it wakes up with a muted snarl if you keep the gas pedal pinned to the floor. The standard eight-speed automatic is a perfectly able companion, although you need to select the Sport driving mode if you prefer snappy shifts when maneuvering in expressway traffic.
For 2014, Hyundai has made some changes to the Equus' air suspension. The ride is now a little softer in the sedan's Comfort mode, while Sport mode tightens up the handling a little without making the ride harsh. Make no mistake, though, the 2014 Hyundai Equus is biased toward the luxury side of the ride-and-handling spectrum and doesn't feel as spry as other large, premium-brand sedans.