WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In the nation's capital we're rolling down Massachusetts Avenue while ensconced in a premium luxury sedan with fancy leather fittings: It's the 2014 Equus Ultimate by Hyundai.
This full-size rear-wheel-drive 4-door sedan, riding on a rigid platform with a 10-foot long wheelbase, provides a carload of cushy cabin gear and a lengthy list of electronic vehicle controls, while beneath the car's exaggerated prow there's a powerful V8 engine primed with enough horsepower to spin those big rear rollers till the rubber rubs off.
Consider Equus a dazzling display of slick automotive design as well as a moveable showcase for the Hyundai aggregate of high-tech mechanical controls and extensive safety systems.
The body, stretching long and decorated with a raked face, flashes projector headlamp clusters on front corners flanking a revised trapezoidal grille with chrome fins. Below, new LED foglamps bookend the lower air intake duct.
Equus appears taut and athletic in a sculptural shape, but also smooth and sleek, even sensuous.
Hyundai labels the design language for Equus as "Fluidic Sculpture" inspired by nature to produce the illusion of motion from curvy shapes of rigid surfaces.
Round wheelwells with only subtle flares house new 19-inch thin-spoke premium aluminum alloy wheels capped by 245/45R19 (front) and 275/40R19 (rear) tires.
Inside a generously scaled passenger compartment are two rows of seats with a capacity for five (Signature) or four (Ultimate) riders.
The front row contains a pair of form-fitting bucket seats while the second row has a three-place bench with fold-down center armrest (Signature) or two tilt/recline business-class seats separated by a multi-function console (Ultimate).
Note that the instrument panel and center stack gain a new design for 2014 Equus models with more premium materials applied including plush leather seat upholstery, Microfiber suede headliner, genuine wood trim and a leather-wrapped and French-stitched instrument panel.
The instrument panel contains electroluminescent gauges with easy-read white numbers on a black background with a 7-inch TFT LCD screen. In the middle of the dash atop the center stack is a rectangular video screen which displays information for audio and climate systems and navigation.
Hyundai fills Equus with lots of safety gear. For active safety, every issue has a disc brake at every wheel, with electronic linkage to a 4-channel anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), and an electronic stability control (ESC) device plus vehicle stability management (VSM) system.
A new Blind Spot Detection system is standard, as is Rear Cross-traffic Alert.
Both Signature and Ultimate models stock Hyundai's Tau V8. The dual-overhead-cam (DOHC) 5.0-liter plant with Hyundai's dual continuously variable valve timing (DCVVT) equipment surges to 429 hp at 6400 rpm with torque to 376 lb-ft at 5000 rpm when running on premium fuel, and EPA fuel ratings tally to 15/23 mpg (city/highway).
Each Equus engine links to a sophisticated electronically controlled 8-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual shift mode.
Equus Signature provides extensive standard features including an adjustable electronic air suspension, smart cruise control, navigation system with new 9.2-inch LCD screen, HID headlights with LED turn signals, windshield-wiper deicer and rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, rearview camera, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, sunroof and keyless ignition system. The cabin adds a 3-zone climate system, heated/ventilated front seats, power rear window shade, Bluetooth connectivity and Lexicon premium sound system with 17 speakers.
Equus Ultimate goes further with the rear business-class buckets and heat/cool controls, power rear side window sunshades, power trunk lid, forward-view camera, head-up display, 12.3-inch TFT LCD instrument cluster display screen, multi-view camera system and rear entertainment system with twin 9.2-inch monitors.
Hyundai's MSRP figures begin at $61,000 for the 2014 Equus Signature and $68,000 for a 2014 Equus Ultimate.