Friday, March 29, 2013

Hyundai Equus: A Few Rungs Up the Social Ladder

Introduced on Wednesday, March 27, 2013: 2014 Hyundai Equus
2013 New York Auto Show

What is it? A refreshed version of perhaps the biggest social climber in luxury cars, Hyundai’s roughly $60,000, full-size sedan.

Is it real? Dismissed by some critics as a poseur, the Equus has established a modest toehold in a class dominated by far pricier models from Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and Audi.

What they said: John Krafcik, chief executive of Hyundai Motor America, said the Equus led every car in the industry – luxury or mainstream — in J.D. Power’s most recent customer satisfaction survey. Customer service has been an Equus hallmark, including free iPads and owner perks; dealers pick up cars from owners’ homes and return them following service visits.

What they didn’t say: How quickly Hyundai can advance the Equus from its generic large-car styling to something resembling its well-received HCD-14 Genesis concept car.

What makes it tick? The formidable 5-liter, direct-injection V-8 with 429 horsepower and 8-speed automatic transmission carry-over from last year’s model. The air suspension is retuned, hopefully lending the Equus the sophisticated dynamics it currently lacks. But the Equus is noticeably gussied-up inside, with more convincing wood, aluminum, leather, display screens and features.

How much? How soon? The reworked Equus goes on sale in May, for roughly $57,000 to start.

How’s it look? No threat to design leaders like the Audi A8 or Jaguar XJ. But the Equus is more convincingly deluxe, especially inside, where it looks more Lexus, less Buick.

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