What's a nice car like the 2014 Hyundai Equus doing with tech like this?

2014 hyundai equus
Image: Hyundai

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When your daughter starts calling a luxury sedan the Hondo, you know you’re in trouble.

We started thinking of taglines together, like: “Can-do with Hondo!” and “When a Honda won’t do, Hondo!”

Of course, the 2014 Hyundai (pronounced Hunday) Equus (pronounced Equus) is a product of the well-regarded South Korean automaker, and it should never be a source for bad jokes. Unfortunately, some of the most prominent tech features—voice-to-text messaging, gas price listings, a concierge service—didn’t work at all, or worse, they caused some serious consternation.

It’s never a good sign when several features on the 9.2-inch non-touchscreen are grayed out. On purpose. Because they don’t work anymore. It would have been nice to check local fuel prices, but a rep told me that feature is now available through Sirius XM radio. I also wanted to try the feature where you call a 1-800 number while you are driving and dictate a voice message that is sent by text to a recipient in your Blue Link contacts. The rep said you can now use Apple Siri for that functionality, as long as you sync up with an iPhone.

2014 hyundai equus bluelink search Image: John Brandon

You can send directions to the car, but it’s odd when you search with Bing with the app and online, but search using Google by voice in the car.

The Equus earns the honor of supporting both Bing and Google for navigation searches, but it’s confusing. If you use the smartphone app or the MyHyundai.com portal, you’ll search with Bing and can send directions to the car. I found my local library and zinged off the directions. Fine.

However, when you press the Bluelink button (which is confusingly located on the rear-view mirror—there’s also one on the center stack), you can’t search on the 9.2-inch screen, you have to wade through voice prompts and search for POIs—as powered by Google. Compared to the luscious 3D-rendered maps and 4G service on a lowly 2015 Audi A3, it stinks.

2014 hyundai equus bluelink button rearview mirror Image: John Brandon

Here's one of two different Blue Link buttons in the Equus. The other is in the center stack.

I did find the features online for setting a geo-fence (you are alerted if the car leaves a designated area), which would be handy for helicopter parents. Still, the MyHyundai.com site is a confusing hodgepodge of links, branding messages, and multiple tabs and icons. It needs streamlining. The app is easier to use, with large icons for locking/unlocking the car and nav searches.

2014 hyundai equus bluelink app location1 Image: John Brandon

The Blue Link app is very easy to use, letting you search for destinations and send them directly to the car's navigation system.

Hondo—er, Hyundai—also touts a service where you can call a live concierge from the car and schedule a service call wherever and whenever you want. I pressed the Blue Link button (the one on the rear-view mirror) and talked to a rep. She said I could only schedule service at a dealership in California. That’s not quite what I had in mind.

On the plus side, the Equus I tested came with all of the tech features like Blue Link, lane-monitoring, and adaptive cruise control for a base price of $61,920. As Hyundai points out, that’s far cheaper than the similar Lexus LS 460 (for $72,140) or the Mercedes-Benz S550 (for $92, 900). However, the much smaller and much cheaper 2015 Audi A3 (at $29,900) comes with 4G service, faster apps, better search, and many of the same tech amenities.

It's not unusual for automakers to roll out tech features gradually, but in the case of the Hyundai Equus, the mix-and-match approach is confusing. There should be a streamlined Blue Link feature set without anything grayed out, and no confusing dual buttons. The Equus drives like a dream, has cutting-edge features, and a low price. Now it needs some high-tech refinement.

This story, "What's a nice car like the 2014 Hyundai Equus doing with tech like this?" was originally published by TechHive.

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