Review: Hyundai Equus

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Hyundai is going upscale. No, really.

The Korean automaker is building on the success of the Sonata and the (excellent) Genesis with the Equus, a 385-horsepower luxury barge injected with leather accents and enough gadgets to make Best Buy jealous. Having proven that it can match the best from Japan, Hyundai is challenging the best from Germany.

The Germans have cause to worry.

This car is supremely comfortable, it can cover vast distances quickly, and it’s entertaining on a winding road provided the curves aren’t too tight. But this is touted as a luxury car. It’s all about the tchotchkes when you’re in this segment, and Hyundai delivers with a list of standard features longer than a Russian novel. Name it, and the odds are this car’s got it.

The Equus gets 16 mpg in the city, 24 on the highway and 19 combined.

The roomy interior is slathered with butter-soft leather, with an Alcantara suede headliner, walnut (or birch) veneer and polished-aluminum accents. The infotainment and navi systems are intuitive and easy to navigate using the large knob on the center console. (Navi system is 2-D only, though.) And the steering wheel — heated, of course — feels absolutely fantastic. The front seats are heated and cooled, and the driver’s seat offers a subtle massage that, frankly, feels great.

Hyundai doesn’t offer any options on the Equus: Everything is included as standard equipment. The Ultimate package is meant for those important (and/or wealthy) enough to have a driver. Most of the 2,000 or so Equuses (Equui?) that Hyundai expects to sell in the United States will have the Signature package. It doesn’t get the massaging and reclining rear seat, the fridge and a few other minor features.

Regardless of which package you choose, Hyundai includes an iPad, because that’s where the owner’s manual is. There’s also a dead-tree manual in the glovebox if you want it, but flipping through pages is so 2008.

If the car has a shortcoming, it’s the styling. The car closely resembles a Lexus but often feels bland. There’s also way, way too much chrome. Still, the Equus is sleek and aerodynamic, with a drag coefficient almost as slick as the Toyota Prius.

Hyundai’s keeping mum on the pricing for now, but figure on spending something in the $50,000 ballpark for the Signature package, and about 10 grand above that for the Ultimate when the car goes on sale in November.

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