ABVSMTX0 2024 Hyundai Staria Highlander 01
2024 Hyundai Staria Highlander 01

Hyundai Staria: Eight is enough

2024 Hyundai Staria Highlander 02

What is it?

The Hyundai Staria people mover and Staria Load commercial van arrived here in mid-2021 as a replacement for the previous iMax and iLoad vehicles.

Both have a strikingly futuristic look, with a steeply sloping front and wide body-coloured radiator grille flanked by low-set LED headlights — and a full-width horizontal LED strip above comprising a centre light and daytime running lights.

Comparisons have been drawn with the now-defunct Space Shuttle.

Both Staria models have been engineered from the ground up and share a platform with the Santa Fe SUV.

We’ll focus on the people mover here and leave the Staria Load for another review.

2024 Hyundai Staria Highlander 03

What’s it cost?

While it may polarise opinion, the Staria certainly has the most imaginative design we’ve ever seen in either a people mover or commercial van.

During our week behind the wheel of the people mover drew almost exclusively positive comments.

The same body colour is used for all for all the Staria’s front parts.

It has a low belt lines and large side windows.

The rear has vertical tail lights and a wide rear window.

It’s not all about style – the rear bumper is low to help make it easier to load and unload.

Three equipment levels are available, each with the choice of 3.5-litre V6 petrol or 2.2-litre diesel power: Staria, Elite and Highlander.

Prices starting from $49,900, plus on road costs, for the petrol model, rising to $67,000 for the Highlander 2.2-litre diesel.

The three petrol variants are front-wheel drive, the diesel drives all four wheels.

Entry level Staria comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, Elite and Highlander score a larger 10.25-inch screen.

Likewise, only the two higher-spec models get satellite navigation with live traffic updates plus digital radio.

The 10.25-inch multimedia unit is integrated into the top of the dash and provides a clear view of navigation, audio and other info, with wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity availability.

All models have a 10.25-inch colour LCD screen in front of the driver but it is partially blocked by the steering wheel when we were driving.

It displays a digital speedo, trip information, tachometer and visual warnings and system status updates from Hyundai SmartSense and other safety systems.

In addition to seven airbags – front, front-side, front-centre plus curtain bags on the A- and B-pillars – standard active safety across the range features include autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian/cyclist detection and junction assist, blind-spot assist, lane-keep assist and lane following assist.

There’s also multi-collision braking, driver inattention monitor, safe exit warning, rear cross-traffic assist and surround view monitor.

The Elite adds safe exit assist and 3-D view surround-view camera.

The range-topping Highlander incorporates a blind spot view monitor, which projects a live feed of what’s in the blind spot to the instrument cluster.

There are IsoFix child seat anchors for the outboard second-row seats, plus top-tether anchors.

There are no anchors for the third row.

2024 Hyundai Staria Highlander 09

What’s it go like?

As with the previous iMax, Staria is an eight-seater.

The lower belt-lines and panoramic side windows provide excellent all-round visibility and create a feeling of openness in the large cabin.

The Highlander lets in even more light via front and rear sunroofs.

If that’s too much light, second and third row sunshades can be used to reduce glare and heat of the sun.

Sliding second-row seats have long runners for easy access and a step and ‘walk-in’ slide function for the second row creates extra foot clearance for easy third row access.

Two USB-A charging ports for each rear row, along with 10 cup/bottle holders, while second-row seat back storage pockets make for happy families on the road.

With all seats occupied, there is 831 litres of cargo space in the rear, which can be expanded to a massive 1303 litres with the second and third row folded.

Access is via power side sliding doors or ‘smart’ power tailgate; the latter closes automatically when the smart key is no longer detected.

Staria is offered with the choice and petrol and turbo-diesel engines, mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission, plus front or all-wheel drive.

The 3.5-litre V6 produces 200kW of power and 331Nm of torque and drives the front wheels, while the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel dishes up 130kW and 430Nm through an all-wheel drive system.

Fuel consumption for the diesel is listed at 8.2L/100km; the petrol model returns 10.5L/100km.

Both can tow up to 2500kg with a braked trailer.

With such a difference in load characteristics over eight seats, fuel consumption could be expected to have ranged wildly around the maker’s claim of 8.2L/100km on the combined urban/highway cycle.

Our test vehicle used a combined 9.8L/100km.

There’s a choice of four drive modes: Normal, Eco, Sport and Smart – offers a range of powertrain responses to suit driving conditions.

Annoyingly they are selected by tapping a number of times on a lower screen thus diverting attention from the road.

Eco and Sport are at either end of the performance spectrum, with Normal the balance between the two.

Smart mode works with a driver profile system to tailor Staria’s performance to their preferences. That’s clever.

Despite its size Satria doesn’t feel it and it’s smooth and comfortable drive experience with ride and handling that’s up to class-leading standards.

2024 Hyundai Staria Highlander 06

What we like?

  • Futuristic looks
  • Easier to load and unload
  • Blind spot view monitor

2024 Hyundai Staria Highlander 10

What we don’t like?

  • Instrument cluster blocked by the steering wheel
  • No child seat anchors for the third row
  • Clever smart drive mode

2024 Hyundai Staria Highlander 07

The bottom line?

All-new Staria is a head-turning, eight-seat people mover alternative to the perennial class-leading Kia Carnival.

It comes with all the safety, comfort and convenience technology customers expect in a modern passenger vehicle.

All models come with a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, complimentary roadside assist for 12 months, 1500km complimentary first service, a dedicated customer care centre and an exclusive owner website.

Owners servicing with Hyundai also receive a 10-year satellite navigation update plan, plus roadside support for up to ten years or more.

2024 Hyundai Staria Highlander 08


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Hyundai Staria Highlander 2.2-litre diesel people mover, priced from $67,000
  • Looks - 9/10
  • Performance - 7/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 5/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 9/10
  • Value - 6/10

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