Fans of Ford’s Panther platform will no doubt cry “blasphemy” and a whole other host of names. Haters gonna hate. If you’re a Panther fan, keep it to yourself and read this blog post, or come back next Tuesday.
Not only does the Hyundai Equus Ultimate serve as Hyundai’s flagship, it also costs as much as a premium midsize sedan like the 2014 Cadillac CTS. I’m not suggesting a comparison – the CTS is in a completely different league than the Equus. While Hyundai’s execution of a fullsize flagship sedan is good, it’s not quite as good as the Lexus LS460, Mercedes-Benz S550, and BMW 750i/Li. It’s just that you can’t really build a value-oriented flagship and expect it to compete against manufacturers that have at least 25 years of practice. It’s the equivalent of In-n-Out going completely vegan. You just don’t expect it to be good.
Panther platform enthusiasts will be quick to point out that the 12.3-18.3 inch-shorter Equus doesn’t have body-on-frame construction. The Equus DOES, however, have a 2.7-inch longer wheelbase than ANY Panther platform car. Like the Town Car, the Equus is styled much more conservatively than the love-it-or-hate-it Cadillac XTS and bulbous Lincoln MKS. The Equus has a roomy, comfortable interior filled with amenities and options that the Lincoln Town Car never offered. It’s also rear-wheel-drive, and it’s got a smooth, very powerful V8 shared with the Hyundai Genesis. It’s the only modern car to have clear Lincoln Town Car DNA in it. It’s obvious who Hyundai is trying to attract.
Rear seat passengers can now individually control the infotainment system, look up restaurants on the go, and even enter destinations while moving. All 2014 Equus models get a standard three-zone climate control system (driver, passenger, rear passengers) standard. Ultimate models now seat five people instead of four. Very few of its competitors offer four seats instead of five in top-of-the-line models. Ultimate models also come with cruise control with a unique 0 mph stop-start function, front, rear, and multi-view cameras. It also comes with a proximity key that turns the exterior and interior lights on and off, as well as unfolding the side mirrors. The doors automatically close a la minivan, and power lumbar support for rear outboard passengers.
For those drivers who want to have performance, fear not. The engine is a 429-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. The front bushings are completely new. As for the Sport and Tour modes, they have been revised for improved ride and handling, respectively.
Because its cabin is so insulated, and its powertrain is so smooth, the optional heads-up display is justifiable. Since the suspension is engineered for comfort, lots of brake dive and body roll make it less than ideal for back road barnstorming. It also probably diminishes driver confidence on the street, especially in the city.
While the Equus isn’t quite up to par with the Lexus LS460 in terms of interior quality, it has a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with separate lumbar controls. The front passenger seat has 10 ways to make you more comfortable. Outboard rear seats have four ways and lumbar. Like the S-Class, the Equus has many of its front and rear switches conveniently located high on the doors.
Up until the end of the 2013 model year, the Equus Ultimate only sat four people. It had a massage function for the driver and the right rear passenger (where many passengers sit). The 2014 model offers seating for five people, but no massaging seats. The 2014 model also has controls for the: Infotainment system, rear climate control, and rear seats on the fold-down center armrest in the rear seat. A “Relax” button moves and tilts the front passenger seat forward before reclining the rear passenger seat. The “Return” button returns both seats to their previous positions. Now that both rear seats recline, the available power footrest is no more.
Like the Lincoln Town Car, the Hyundai Equus Ultimate offers full-size space and all of the luxury touches one would expect in a flagship. Another similar thing between these two vehicles designed for those like to be chauffeured around – neither lives up to the standard set by the Lexus LS460, Mercedes-Benz S550, and BMW 750i/Li. While the value-oriented Equus can be compared to a modern Lincoln Town Car, it does have something that the big Lincoln never had – a 429-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 and 8-speed automatic transmission. In my mind, the Hyundai Equus picks up right where the Lincoln Town Car left off. Now, the one thing that Hyundai has left – the monumental task of convincing everybody the virtues of a bargain-priced flagship sedan.