It pains us a little to call a $69,000 car a bargain. But how else to describe the Equus?
Despite its low, low price, this flagship Hyundai sedan plays with confidence in the automotive stratosphere, refusing to give an inch in comfort, features and fit-and-finish to ultra-luxury competitors that run deep into 6-figure territory.
In other words, the Equus punches well above its weight class, with such stalwarts as the Lexus LS, BMW 7-Series and even fellow 2014 Ward’s 10 Best Interiors winner Mercedes S-Class – nearly twice the price – likely to leave the ring at least a little bloodied from a bout with this Korean heavyweight.
“Comparable Mercedes, BMW, Audi or Lexus are $30k more,” one 10 Best Interiors judge scribbles in the margins of his scorecard.
To borrow a real-estate term, the Equus simply presents well, striking all the right emotional chords from the instant you slide behind the wheel.
For starters, there’s the spectacular blend of disparate, but extravagant, materials, as Hyundai weaves together ash wood trim with brushed aluminum brightwork, a French-stitched leather instrument panel and high-grade microfiber suede headliner that stretches clear down to the base of the A-pillar.
All that luxury surrounds our test car’s eye-popping and inviting ivory leather seats, distinguished by contrast piping.
The sedan’s cavernous rear compartment delivers comfort that’s second to none. Back seats feature heating, cooling and lumbar support, of course. But the ultimate move is to press the “Relax” button, which reclines the seat and extends the bottom cushion. Separate buttons can create more legroom by folding the front passenger seat and inching it forward.
Rear passengers also can access the audio controls and navigation system, as well as watch videos on individual screens integrated beautifully into the back of the front seats.
“Lovely, comfortable, luxurious interior,” concludes one judge, “without feeling snobby.”
The debate rages as to whether touchscreen or console-mounted controls work best for commanding the human-machine interface, but we believe Hyundai chose well in opting for the latter. With its central dial surrounded by large buttons, the Equus HMI is easy and intuitive to operate.
We particularly like the HMI’s radio-operating screen that features a retro-styled analogue tuning dial for quick station changes without the need to flip through multiple pages. The same is true for the redundant, and large, climate-system controls that make it a snap to adjust the temperature.
There’s a full complement of safety technology, of course, but one standout is the blindspot indicators that are projected through the head-up display, allowing the driver to change lanes confidently without taking his eyes off the road ahead.
“Brilliant,” one judge says of the feature.
That pretty much sums up the Equus overall as well.