SAN FRANCISCO -- Hyundai calls it "intelligent luxury."
Its Equus flagship is big, bold and lavishly equipped. Hyundai is being every bit as audacious as Toyota was with the original Lexus LS 400 that arrived in 1989. But will luxury-car buyers accept Hyundai as a genuine purveyor of luxury goods?
The basics: Luxury flagships are all about roominess, and the Equus has more passenger volume, cargo volume, headroom and legroom than many of its prestige competition's base models -- and is close in size to the much-pricier long-wheelbase versions.
Despite being so large, the Equus reaches 60 mph in 6.4 seconds and gets 16 mpg city/24 hwy. The Equus lines up on equal footing with its rear-drive rivals in equipment, performance and comportment.
The ride is modulated by a standard electronically controlled air suspension system developed by Continental. The system can be adjusted for sportier driving and also for ride height. The damping control was developed by Sachs. Steering comes through a speed-sensitive electrohydraulic unit.
As for safety, nine airbags, smart cruise control, lane departure warning, collision warning and the usual stability, traction and panic-braking controls are standard.
Notable features: Equus piles on the standard features: moonroof, Bluetooth, 19-inch wheels, high-intensity headlamps, fog lights, parking assist, rain-sensing wipers, keyless locks and ignition and acoustic laminated windshield and windows.
On the inside, standard features include an eight-inch console display screen, posh Alcantara suede headliner, power rear and side sun shades, 608-watt Lexicon stereo with 17 speakers and XM and HD radio, heated wood-and-leather steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, 12-way power driver's seat with massage, 10-way power front-passenger seat, leather-wrapped instrument panel, dual front temperature zones and a separate rear climate zone.
The "Ultimate" trim level, meant for the chauffeur-driven owner, has a reclining rear seat similar to a business-class chair, with shiatsu massage, heating, cooling, leg support and a headrest with adjustable wings for napping. The backseat area also features a thermoelectric refrigerator and an eight-inch LCD display screen.