If you've been following the automotive news over the past few years, you'll know that Hyundai has rapidly transformed itself into a top-tier automaker. Unfortunately for Hyundai, most people don't follow the automotive news. For the average car shopper, then, the concept of a $60,000-$70,000 Hyundai luxury sedan may be hard to swallow. In other words, the 2014 Hyundai Equus has its work cut out. 

But Hyundai knows this, so they've taken steps to reassure hesitant buyers. When your Equus needs maintenance, for example, Hyundai will actually send someone to your residence to pick up the car. And then there's the car itself, which is undoubtedly an impressive achievement. Forget about the Hyundai badge and just imagine a V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive, luxury-lined sedan that undercuts most rivals by tens of thousands. The Equus is the executive car for executives who can't pass up a good deal. 

Indeed, the Equus does almost everything well, and its unique one-two punch of affordability and valet-style maintenance has been enough to clinch a surprising number of sales. If you're not up on the news, here's the latest: Hyundai makes a legitimate top-shelf luxury sedan, and it's absolutely worth a test drive. 

What's New for 2014?

The 2014 Equus receives a slew of updates, including tweaked exterior styling with standard LED fog lights, a redesigned dashboard and center console, upgraded interior trim, revised suspension tuning and numerous new technology features. Also, the Ultimate trim level loses its ultra-luxurious "first-class" rear seating configuration. 

What We Like

Refined ride; strong acceleration; most of the expected luxuries; great value 

What We Don't

All-wheel drive isn't offered; interior quality reflects the relatively low price 

How Much?

$61,920-$68,920 

Fuel Economy

The rear-wheel-drive Equus features a 5.0-liter V8 rated at 429 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is an 8-speed automatic. 

Fuel economy is 15 miles per gallon city/23 mpg hwy. 

Standard Features & Options

The 2014 Hyundai Equus is offered in two trim levels: Signature and Ultimate. 

The Signature ($61,920) starts with 19-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlamps, LED accent lights and fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, a power trunk lid, a sunroof, a leather-wrapped dashboard, leather upholstery, 10-way power front seats with driver lumbar, wood interior trim, electroluminescent gauges with a complementary 7-in TFT LCD display, tri-zone automatic climate control with separate rear controls, a 3-passenger rear bench with power-reclining seat backs, a power rear sunshade, an 9.2-in central LCD display with a navigation system and a rearview camera and a 17-speaker, 608-watt Lexicon audio system with iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity. 

The top-of-the-line Ultimate ($68,920) boasts power-closing doors, a head-up display, a multi-camera parking camera system, a 12-in TFT LCD instrument cluster display, dual rear 9.2-in LCD screens with a DVD player and separate controls, ventilated rear seats with power lumbar support, a rear-console refrigerator, cooled rear seats and a forward-view "cornering camera" for the driver. 

Although the Equus model's front seats borrow the seat-shaped power-adjustment levers of Mercedes, they lack the seemingly infinite adjustability of Benz or BMW chairs. It's clear that the car's engineers gave more thought to the rear passengers than to those in front. Indeed, the Equus model's one-size-fits-all wheelbase skews toward limousine-like proportions. Just check out those elongated rear doors, which are typically only seen on competitors' long-wheelbase models. 

As for trunk space, it measures an impressive 16.7 cu ft. 

Safety

The 2014 Hyundai Equus comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, active front headrests and nine airbags (front, front-side, driver knee, rear-side, full-length side curtain). Also standard is a blind spot warning system, a lane-departure warning system, adaptive cruise control with automatic braking and front and rear parking sensors with rear cross-traffic alert. 

Neither the government nor the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the Equus. 

Behind the Wheel

What's most important in a car such as the Equus is refinement, and on the road this Hyundai has it in spades. The engine is highly civilized, pulling respectably hard when you give it the spurs, while the 8-speed automatic serves up smooth, relaxed shifts. Road noise is negligible, and the Equus generally soaks up irregularities with a shrug. It's not easy to make a big sedan drive like a truly top-shelf luxury car, but Hyundai has pulled it off on the first attempt. 

Other Cars to Consider 

BMW 740i -- We specify the 6-cylinder 740i because it's only (only!) about $10,000-$15,000 more expensive than the Equus to start. Some may feel that's a small price to pay for the superior sportiness and brand cachet of the 7 Series. 

Lexus LS 460 -- The new LS gets edgier styling and an upgraded interior, though underneath is largely the same V8 engine and chassis as before. 

Mercedes-Benz S-Class -- Still the measuring stick, the redesigned S-Class has a magical solidity at speed, and its engine offerings are second to none. Of course, it's massively more expensive than the Hyundai. 

AutoTrader's Advice

May as well go Ultimate, right? You'll be getting a lot of car for less than the base price of most rivals. 

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