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Hyundai Equus branches out into luxury market

February 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Would you pay $60,000 for a Hyundai?

The South Korean automaker is known for its budget vehicles, but the company is branching out into the luxury market in a big way.

Most people probably think of Hyundais as mainstream, small and medium cars with an edge on their competitors in sticker price. But now Hyundai is making a big move with a big luxury car carrying a big assortment of features.

The new Equus sedan is full-sized, has a standard V8 engine and comes with just about every amenity imaginable for a starting price of $58,000.

That might sound expensive for a Hyundai but it's inexpensive compared to other premium cars.

The Equus is Hyundai's newest entry into a field dominated by names like Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Hyundai began going upscale a couple of years ago with the mid-size Genesis.

Now it's on to bigger things.

There's plenty of space in the back seat. Some are equipped with what's called the 'Ultimate Package,' which includes heating and cooling in both seats.

There's a control panel that allows passengers to work all the features and even a small screen to watch DVDs on.

That package increases the sticker price by $6,500 to just more than $65,000 total price.

However, to get a V8 luxury import with comparable features, a car shopper would normally have to spend a lot more.

The base Lexus LS 460 with navigation is about $68,000, BMW's 750 starts at almost $85,000 and a V8 S-Class Mercedes is about $95,000.

But there is one thing those other cars have that the Equus doesn't: badge prestige. Many buyers in this segment look for a known luxury nameplate.

The Equus doesn't say the word Hyundai anywhere on it. There are only bird-like logos, the word Equus and one stylized "H" at the back.

Buyers may have a tough time telling their friends they paid $60,000 for a Hyundai.

On the other hand, they could tell people they bought a large luxury car rather inexpensively.

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