Car reviews - Hyundai - Staria - Load
Standard safety equipment, smooth driveline, increased payload area, improved seat comfort.
Room for improvement
Choppy ride, road noise, lacks centre console and grab handle, poor headlight performance.
Hyundai’s long-awaited replacement for the iLoad is ready to take on Toyota’s HiAce
12 Oct 2021
By MATT BROGAN
FOLLOWING a much-publicised six-month delay, Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) is now stocking dealerships with its all-new Staria Load.
Replacing the 14-year-old iLoad in Hyundai’s commercial vehicle line-up, the Staria Load, is available as of this month in two-seat Van or five-seat Crew Van formats with pricing starting from $45,740 plus on-road costs.
The Staria Load is available with twin sliding side doors as standard and the option of a top-hinged liftback or barn-door-style twin swing tailgate, the latter due toward the end of the year at no extra cost.
Given it carries a $3000 price premium over the cheapest automatic iLoad, the auto-only Staria Load introduces a range of safety and driver assistance technologies that weren’t available in Hyundai’s outgoing and outdated light commercial van.
It adopts many of these technologies courtesy of a lighter, more rigid platform it shares with the Santa Fe SUV, which the brand says also gifts the Staria Load with a more car-like drive.
Offered in front-wheel drive only – and with a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine making 130kW/431Nm(+5kW/-11Nm compared to the outgoing 2.5-litre diesel) and paired exclusively to an eight-speed automatic transmission – the Staria Load features a solid beam rear axle and leaf sprung rear-end to provide significantly more cargo space than its predecessor.
Cargo space grows to 4935 litres (VDA) up from 4426L, meaning the Staria Load can accommodate three Euro-sized pallets (or two standard Australian pallets).
The floor height has also been reduced from 614mm to 573mm with the side door aperture increasing by over 200mm (to 870mm).
The rear aperture on Liftback models measures 1300mm wide by 1320mm high.
The load bed grows to 2607mm in length (+237mm), 1640mm wide (+20mm), and 1436mm tall (+96mm).
Eight tie-down points provide maximum load security while felt board trim lines key areas of the walls to prevent cargo-inflicted damage.
Payload is listed at 1090kg with a braked towing capacity of 2500kg. Fuel consumption is listed at 7.0L/100km on the combined cycle while the turning circle grows to 11.9m (up 0.9m) by virtue of the Staria Load’s larger footprint.
The Staria Load adopts nearly all of Hyundai’s SmartSense active driver assist and collision-avoidance technologies as standard.
Driver attention warning, forward collision-avoidance assist, haptic warning function, intelligent speed limit assist, lane-keeping assist, lane following assist, leading vehicle departure alert, parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring, safe exit warning, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance-assist and blind-spot collision-avoidance assist are all standard, in addition to seven airbags.
The Staria Load has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
A shipment of approximately 200 ‘Limited Release’ vans are available while stocks last.
Priced from $45,240 (plus on-road costs), these variants miss out on many of the safety technologies listed above but is not expected to become a full-time part of the line-up.
The light commercial Staria Load also adopts many of the creature comforts found in its people-mover sibling, the Staria.
These include black cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, 4.2-inch supervision instrument cluster, dusk-sensing headlights, keyless entry, Qi wireless phone charging, an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity and AM/FM radio.
The Staria Load rides on 17-inch steel wheels (to accommodate larger, uprated brakes) with a full-sized spare. Metallic paint is a $695 option.
Hyundai backs the Staria Load with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and lifetime service plan. Roadside assistance is included for the first 12 months and extended for another 12 months with each successive scheduled service. Service intervals are set at 12 months/15,000km (whichever comes first) and are priced at $360 each for the first five years.
The Hyundai Staria Load competes with rivals including the Ford Transit Custom 340S (from $43,290), LDV G10 (from $32,490), Mitsubishi Express GLX ($38,490), Peugeot Expert 150HDi ($39,990), Renault Traffic Pro ($37,390), and segment-leading Toyota HiAce LWB ($39,740) which accounts for 34.4 per cent of segment sales.
The three points of contact rule when entering and exiting a vehicle – a common OH&S standard in commercial driving applications – is hard to exercise in the Staria Load.
There’s no grab handle on the driver’s side A-pillar, leaving the only the door and the steering wheel as points of hand contact.
It’s a bit of an oversight on Hyundai’s behalf and a bugbear certain to be noted by drivers regularly hopping in and out of the cab.
It’s also odd to find no centre console bin, no centre armrest, and no centre seat. The two-seat driver’s cabin offers only a large void between the seats, leaving no work area for clipboards, laptops, tablets, and the likes.
There is however adequate oddment storage elsewhere and myriad cupholders, but for commercial applications the lack of a ‘workstation’ feels like a design faux pas.
Conversely, of course, the area between the seats does make it handy to access the load area, assuming a cargo barrier isn’t fitted.
Moving past these issues, the Staria Load offers a supportive and comfortable driving position with excellent seat, steering wheel, and mirror adjustment.
The larger wing mirrors offer an outstanding view beside the vehicle, aided by a low window line and handy 360-degree camera (Liftback variants only).
The steering wheel, too, is a vast improvement over the polyurethane example in the outgoing iLoad and offers SUV-like road feel with generous levels of assistance at parking speeds.
It’s easy to appreciate the correlation between Hyundai’s SUV models and the new Staria Load from behind the wheel; the steering response and smooth driveline being an appreciable improvement over its previous light commercial offering.
That said, the new leaf-sprung rear-end is firm and choppy when unladen. It so stiff, in fact, that it can disrupt the vehicle’s attitude considerably when cornering on rough country roads at highway speeds.
The Staria Load really needs weight over its rear axle to perform calmly, though buyers requiring a heavier duty mid-size van are certain to appreciate the tougher rear-end and increased bed size on offer.
The rear-end also transmits considerable levels of road noise into the cabin with noticeably less sound insulation in the ‘Load’ version of the Staria compared to the people-mover, but perhaps that’s par for the course…
It’s also interesting to note a couple of other people-mover legacy issues in the cargo area.
The cover over the fuel pump is not dressed by the rubber floor mat and its position (directly inside the passenger-side sliding door) means it’s exposed to continual punishment by dragging and dropping loads.
The routing of the conduit-covered electrical loom at the rear of each sliding door is also at risk of snagging and should have been secured internally beneath the load area’s felt board trim.
The economy and performance of the Staria Load proves flexible and smooth in both around town and highway traffic. The engine provides smooth, purposeful acceleration aided by a clean-shifting and decisive transmission.
The eight-speed auto does a terrific job of utilising the torque on tap from Hyundai’s R-Series engine without necessitating high engine speeds.
In most cases there’s little need to rev the engine much past 2000rpm to keep with traffic, which allows fuel economy numbers close to the ADR claim (we managed 7.6L/100km on test).
Night-time dashboard and instrumentation illumination is crisp, but not overwhelming, though low and high-beam (halogen) headlight performance is decidedly average. There’s sufficient lighting in both the driver’s cabin and load area to adequately manage most tasks.
The new Hyundai Staria Load certainly shows a lot more polish than the outgoing iLoad. It’s an altogether more pleasant and more driver-centric vehicle that offers roominess the iLoad arguably lacked when viewed against its contemporaries.
However, we can’t help but think it’s just not as ‘commercial’ as a light commercial van should be.
With a few simple tweaks, focussed on realistic daily use patterns of operators in the segment, Hyundai could readily transform the Staria Load from a vehicle that’s simply fit for purpose to absolutely class leading. Let’s see what the update brings.
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