German car makers established the executive sedan class with the Mercedes-Benz S-class, BMW 7-series, and Audi A8. Lexus joined in with the LS, and now Hyundai steps into this rarefied atmosphere with the Equus, a car that will probably undercut its more expensive competition by $30k to $40k.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET
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The Equus gets a unique model badge, an emblem with silver, upstretched wings. The Hyundai badge is not to be found in front or inside the car, only appearing on the trunk lid.

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The Equus uses a 4.6-liter V-8 with continuous variable valve timing, producing 385 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque. This engine moves the car easily, with the kind of power luxury buyers would expect.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Hyundai
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LED parking lights run along the edge of the headlight casing, and the high intensity discharge lamps have cornering capability.

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Hyundai used its new Fluidic Sculpture design language on the Equus, although toned down, favoring broader expanses of smooth sheet metal. The effect is nice, with hints of arches at the wheels.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET
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Styling at the rear has the exhaust ports mimic the tail lights, one looking like an inverted version of the other.

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People familiar with Hyundai cars from the late '80s and early '90s will be surprised by the Equus' interior, which uses quality materials in a pleasing design.

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We like the arrangement of buttons on the steering wheel, especially the four-way integrated buttons on the spokes.

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The display between the speedometer and tachometer uses full color to show a variety of information about the car or the infotainment systems.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET
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The automatic transmission, from ZF, has 6 speeds. Although it has a manual mode, there is no sport mode on the transmission itself. Rather, pushing a button on the console engages sport mode fro the transmission, suspension, and vehicle stability electronics.

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This knob controls the car's infotainment features, with hard buttons for specific applications.

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The adaptive suspension not only offers a sport setting, but can be set to a high position, raising the car by about an inch for difficult roads.

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The navigation system uses a hard drive to store maps, but does not offer 3D maps. It does show traffic, and will dynamically route around traffic jams.

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This oval track it a little tedious for destination inputs.

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A front-view camera helps when going into a blind intersection or rolling out of a parking garage. This view only stays on below 5 mph.

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In Ultimate trim, the Equus gets these big rear seats. The right-hand seat has a massage function, operated by a remote control. The Ultimate trim only has room for four, while the Signature trim gets a bench seat in the rear.

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This rear LCD is well-placed on the back of the console, where it does not interfere with the driver's rear view.

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The 17 speaker Lexicon audio system in the car produces excellent sound quality. It has a 608 watt amplifier and 13 channels.

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