Why a $62,000 Hyundai Equus sedan may be a good value

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What changes will make it different?

Model-year 2014 brought a substantial refreshing, so model-year ’15 is basically a carryover. That means more fundamental changes lie ahead, possibly for the 2016 model year. One major area that needs to be improved is fuel economy. Although frugality isn’t a huge priority for buyers of luxury sedans like this one, it’s still a consideration. The model year ’15 V-8 delivers an EPA-certified 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway for a combined figure of just 18 mpg. Those numbers simply won’t cut it these days; thus, lighter-weight and possibly smaller engines will likely be part of the mix in model-year 2016. Hyundai also seems intent on competing with the most established names in the luxury segment in the styling department. The somewhat derivative look of the Equus only draws potential buyers’ attention to the fact that it isn’t a BMW, Audi or Mercedes.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

At this point, it isn’t guaranteed that the ’16 model will be the all-new car that the nameplate is crying out for, but it’s a distinct possibility. If you’re looking into this segment, you’re going to be making a significant investment, which means it would be smart to wait and see if this will be an all-new car. Hyundai isn’t a manufacturer that does things badly, and if it wants to compete with the big European luxury brands, it will have to up its game. There’s a chance that the all-new Equus won’t appear until the 2017 model year, so the wait could be a long one.

Should I buy a 2015 model instead?

This model is outstanding, and you know what you’re getting; unfortunately, the same applies to a number of the competitors. But the big selling point for this car is that it delivers a premium feel for much less money than the competition. If you like the price point, it may be a good idea to invest in the model-year ’15 version.

Will the styling be different?

The styling of the 2015 model is smart and clean, but it certainly doesn’t stand out in the crowd. There are some similarities to the Mercedes S-Class, though it will never be mistaken for that brand. While there is a need for a more stylish exterior, this is still a relatively conservative segment. Unless one of the big players breaks rank and delivers something truly different before model-year ’16, the styling won’t undergo an overhaul.

Any mechanical changes?

Along with the expected upgrading of the interior and the onboard infotainment, connectivity and safety equipment, the mechanicals should improve considerably. The model-year 2015 5.0-liter V-8, which delivers 429 horsepower, is smooth and serene. The ride and handling are already excellent, but Hyundai can’t afford to stand pat here. The smaller Genesis is now available in all-wheel drive to appeal to buyers in snow-belt areas, so the model-year 2016 Equus may well follow suit.

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Will fuel economy improve?

This is one of the few areas where considerable work is warranted. Modern engineering practices that make use of new lightweight materials, combined with a new engine design, could deliver better fuel efficiency. Gas mileage isn’t the be all and end all for a luxury sedan, but it’s definitely a factor these days.

Will it have new features?

It is with cars like this that we traditionally see automakers introduce the most sophisticated, cutting-edge and expensive features. And buyers of luxury sedans demand nothing less. The model-year ’15 Equus has a generous list of standard equipment that should carry over to model-year 2016. Even the current entry-level Signature edition comes standard with leather upholstery, wood trim, three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, a moonroof, an impressive pre-collision warning system, high-intensity discharge headlamps, LED running lights, a rearview camera, a heated steering wheel, and heated and cooled front seats. For model-year ’16, you can expect more in terms of safety features. Systems that use radar to help prevent accidents are becoming big news, and cars like the Equus are where we are likely to see the newest developments first.

How will 2016 prices be different?

Manufacturers seem to be offering more for the same money when they unveil a new car these days, but that may not be the case here. While the quality of this car is already excellent, it needs to go up another notch to keep pace with competitors. This obviously costs money, which is why prices might go up from $62,450 for the base Signature model and $69,700 for the top-line Ultimate (prices include destination fees.) Ironically, a heftier price tag could be an advantage, in that the badge-conscious buyers in this segment will take the car more seriously.

When will it come out?

Expect the model-year ’16 Equus to arrive in the third quarter of 2015.

Best competitors

Mercedes S-Class, Jaguar XJ, BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS 460, Audi A8

What change would make it better?

This luxury sedan is begging for a more stylish exterior. It’s not that the car is unattractive, but if Hyundai wants to make a real mark in this segment, it must address the “wow” factor.

Quick hit

Hyundai already limits the number of dealers that are allowed to sell the Equus, and those dealers must have a showroom within a showroom to display the car. This stops short of what the likes of Toyota, Honda and Nissan have done with their luxury models: offering them as entirely different brands under the Lexus, Acura and Infiniti names, respectively. It’s a bold move for Hyundai to continue offering such a premium car with the same badge as its mass-market models. The Equus lives up to its premium billing in every way except the badge on the hood.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]