Futuristic Staria a header-turner

All-new Staria is a head-turning eight-seater people mover alternative to the perennial class-leading Kia Carnival. (pictures supplied)

The Hyundai Staria people mover and Staria Load commercial van arrived here in mid-2021 to replace the previous iMax and iLoad vehicles.

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

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

Both Staria models are engineered from the ground up on a dedicated platform shared with the Santa Fe.

We’ll focus on the people mover here.


While it may polarise opinions, 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 Staria people mover it drew almost exclusively positive comments.

The same body colour is used for all the Staria’s frontal parts. It has a low belt line 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 – starting at $49,900, plus on road costs, for the Staria petrol and rising to $67,000 for the Highlander 2.2-litre diesel.

The three petrol variants are front-wheel drive, the diesels are driven by all four wheels.


As with the previous iMax, the 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 a front and rear sunroof.

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’ device sliding 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 and second-row seatback storage pockets make for happy families on the road.

With all seats occupied, there is 831 litres of cargo space in the rear, while this 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 that closes automatically when the smart key is no longer detected.


The all-wheel drive 2.2-litre CRDI diesel generates 130 kW of power and 430 Nm of torque. Fuel consumption is listed at 8.2 litres per 100 kilometres.

The 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine gets 200 kW and 330 Nm.

On test was the range topping Staria Highlander 2.2-litre petrol diesel.


Entry level Staria comes with an 8-inch touchscreen display, Elite and Highlander a 10.25-inch touchscreen. Likewise, only the two higher-spec models get satellite navigation with live traffic updates digital radio.

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

All models have a 10.25-inch colour LCD screen in front of the driver but 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.


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

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

Both engines are mated with an eight-speed torque convertor automatic transmission and can tow up to 2500kg with a braked trailer.


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 on the outboard second-row seats, plus top-tether anchors. There are no anchors in the third row.


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 8.2 litres per 100km on the combined urban/highway cycle. Our test vehicle used a combined 9.8 L/100 km.

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.


All-new Staria is a head-turning eight-seater 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 10 years or more.


Looks: 9/10

Performance: 7/10

Safety: 8/10

Thirst: 5/10

Practicality: 8/10

Comfort: 7/10

Tech: 9/10

Value: 6/10