2011 Hyundai Equus: Beauty Contest
September 26, 2011
My friend, Cheryl, is one of those work-until-you-drop types, and when she sends out an e-mail proclaiming that it's time for a visit to her favorite day spa in Los Angeles, you know that she really needs some pampering. My husband and I decided to go for the hot-stone massages, mediation music, cucumber-infused water and all the copies of Esquire and Cosmo you could ever want to read. I volunteered to drive, and I thought the limo-like Equus might be a good candidate for spa coach. It was indeed.
Cheryl is 5 feet, 9 inches tall, but found the back seat of the Equus plenty roomy, even with my 5-foot, 10-inch husband sitting in front of her. With his seat in its furthest back position, her knees still didn't touch. With an iPhone paired (a quick, intuitive process), we had the right music for the drive, and let Cheryl play around with the backseat-driven volume and selection controls, just for fun (then we locked her out). The back-up camera was helpful in the spa's small parking lot. The car's navigation system chose a good route home after lunch, and the Equus' V8 had more than enough pickup to get us around freeway slow spots. The ride, in front and back, was comfortable without being spongy.
Cheryl wasn't familar with Hyundai's company makeover in recent years, and she was impressed with the look, ride and depth of features in the Equus. "Hard to believe it's the same company that used to sell little boxy cars," she said. She texted her husband (who was driving home from Arizona in a rented 2011 Cadillac CTS) to report that she was being ferried around in a $60,000 Hyundai, complete with all the luxury bells and whistles imaginable. It took just a second for him to quip, "It's still a Hyundai."
And that's the problem: No matter how fine the Equus looks or how laden with goodies it might be, some people are not going to perceive it as a great luxury value, but as an upstart econobox with delusions of grandeur. Is that fair or accurate? No, but perceptions aren't objective. The Equus -- perhaps more than any other Hyundai model -- has its reputational work cut out for it.
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @12,899 miles