The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Community News Network

January 13, 2014

Cargazing: Hyundai's full-size luxury car competes with world's best

Ten years ago, if you told me Hyundai would be selling a full-size luxury car to compete with the Mercedes S-Class, I’d call you crazy.

For one thing, Hyundai didn’t build anything even remotely Mercedes-like in 2004. The Korean company struggled to match Ford and Chevy products back then, much less a legendary, super-expensive German luxury car.

For another, I would have expected Hyundai to learn from one of the biggest flops in recent automotive history, the Volkswagen Phaeton. It was a similar S-Class fighter from a mass-market brand, and it resulted in embarrassingly low sales numbers in the United States — even though it’s one of the best luxury cars ever produced, in my opinion.

Despite the long odds, I find myself spending time this week in the 2014 Hyundai Equus, a spectacularly engineered luxury car that draws comparisons not only to the S-Class, but also the BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS and Jaguar XJ.

And unlike the disastrous Phaeton experiment, the Equus seems to be more of a sales success. 

Hyundai says the Equus is the top-shopped premium luxury sedan in the nation, well ahead of its exclusive competitors. Its $61,000 base price — thousands less than the competition — is surely a reason for that, but so is its long list of features that make you feel pampered like an 18th century French king.

I’m sure Versailles was a nice place to spend time. Don’t get me wrong. But it didn’t come with power-closing doors, a power trunk lid, adjustable air suspension, three-zone climate control, heads-up display, heated and cooled front and back seats and window shades that deploy at the touch of a button.

In other words, an Equus makes you feel like Louis XIV, with an entire opulent world right at your fingertips.

With the $7,000 Ultimate Package on my test car, even the back seat seems fit for a king. It includes two digital screens in the front headrests and a suite of buttons and knobs in the center armrest that let you control the navigation and entertainment systems while your driver wafts you from place to place. 

Everything about this car seems top-notch, from the soft materials and gorgeous stitching that make you feel like somebody special when you sit in the cabin, to the wild, thrilling sense of speed when you step on the gas pedal.

Power comes from a 5.0-liter V8 that makes 429 horsepower, enough to make this big, heavy car feel nimble when necessary.

And even better than that, the engine sounds spectacular. It’s the kind of car that warms your soul when you stomp on the gas pedal and hear that deep, rich exhaust note from the V8.

I see only two downsides to it. One, you can’t get it with all-wheel drive, so people who need or want that extra traction will have to look elsewhere. And two, I wish it were slightly quieter on the highway. It’s very quiet and smooth, but it doesn’t leave me in silent awe at 80 mph like the S-Class does. 

That said, the Equus is still one of the best, most opulent luxury cars I’ve ever driven — and that includes cars from Jaguar, Lexus and Mercedes that carried sticker prices well over $100,000.

The fact that Hyundai is playing at that level isn’t just remarkable. It’s almost miraculous.

Derek Price is an independent automotive columnist. Reach him at carcolumn@gmail.com.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • American sunscreens need an upgrade

    The last time a new sunscreen ingredient came on the U.S. market, the Y2K bug was threatening to destroy our way of life. Intel had just introduced the Pentium III processor, featuring an amazing 500 MHz of computing power.

    April 24, 2014

  • 20140424-AMX-COFFEE24.jpg Coffee growers' prayers for rain met with threat of deluge

    Brazil's drought made arabica coffee this year's best-performing commodity. Now, farmers are facing a downpour that is once more threatening crops.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Celebrity quack moms are a terrible influence on everyday parents

    On April 15, the actress Alicia Silverstone released a book called "The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning." It's chock-full of attachment parenting lessons and dangerous misinformation.

    April 24, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Graduation Salutes
Seasonal Content