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Hyundai Staria Load 2023 review: Premium


Daily driver score

4.3/5

Tradies score

4.3/5

You probably know Hyundai’s Staria as an edgy retro-futuristic people mover, but it’s also available as a commercial van, replacing the once-popular iLoad in the Korean brand’s line-up.

The Staria Load, as it’s known, is an all new nameplate and a ground-up design faced with the mammoth task of taking on the Toyota HiAce and its decades of history as the leader in Australia’s van market.

The question is, does the Hyundai newcomer have what it takes, or is it literally all style and no substance? We’ve tested out the latest version, the more thoroughly equipped Premium grade, to find out.

Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

There are two versions of the Staria Load on sale right now, a base model, which is priced from $46,250 before on-roads and this one, the Premium, which costs $51,240.

Both are front-wheel drive and powered by the same diesel engine, but the Premium grade offers a solid list of handy upgrades and luxuries over the base car for its modest extra spend.

Its nemesis is the eternal Toyota HiAce, which is only available in one spec grade from $46,360, although unlike the Staria it is also offered in a super long wheelbase or high-roof body style.

The Staria Load Premium wears a price tag of $51,240. (Image: Tom White) The Staria Load Premium wears a price tag of $51,240. (Image: Tom White)

Other options include Volkswagen’s Transporter T6.1 (from $47,390), Renault’s Trafic (from $49,000), Peugeot Expert (from $43,397) or Ford’s Transit Custom (from $44,590).

If you really need to penny pinch, there’s also always the LDV G10+, which starts from as low as $34,990 drive-away.

While the Staria Load Premium has a higher price-tag than many of its rivals, it’s also slightly larger, much newer, and better equipped than pretty much all of them.

The Premium grade Staria Load scores dual 10.25-inch screens for the multimedia and digital instrument cluster. (Image: Tom White) The Premium grade Staria Load scores dual 10.25-inch screens for the multimedia and digital instrument cluster. (Image: Tom White)

For example, at Premium level you score many of the refinements otherwise only reserved for the people mover version, including LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual 10.25-inch screens for the multimedia and digital instrument cluster, wireless phone charging, keyless entry with push-start ignition, a power tailgate, and three additional colour choices over the plain white and silver available on the base van.

Unfortunately, the Premium is only available with the powered hatch tailgate, you can’t opt for the barn-door layout on the base van, which could be limiting for some tradespeople who often need to work in more confined spaces.

Other than this consideration, it doesn’t seem like a big ask to up your order to the Premium, given it carries only a $5000 cost, adding a lot of stuff to an already nice van.

Design - Is there anything interesting about its design?

It’s a cool looking thing, right? The full-on retro-futuristic vibe extending even to Hyundai’s commercial offerings is a statement of commitment to the brand, and it brings with it some of the better design motifs from not only passenger cars like the Tucson, but even its more aspirational cars like the Ioniq 5.

This is most reflected in the Robocop face and pixelated rear LED clusters, which is, again, an argument for the Premium grade, as it doesn’t look quite right with dull old halogens.

Either way, it certainly looks more modern and daring than the decidedly pragmatic HiAce and many of its other plain rivals. I suppose it depends how much image matters to your brand or trade when it comes to opting for a vehicle like this.

  • The Staria Load Premium scores LED headlights. (Image: Tom White) The Staria Load Premium scores LED headlights. (Image: Tom White)
  • The Staria Load features pixelated rear LED clusters. (Image: Tom White) The Staria Load features pixelated rear LED clusters. (Image: Tom White)
  • At Premium level the Staria Load scores 17-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Tom White) At Premium level the Staria Load scores 17-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Tom White)

The interior continues the futuristic vibe, with those nice looking screens, expansive front windows, and nice design elements throughout. It particularly draws from Hyundai’s passenger car range here, with the sunken vent motif and leatherbound steering wheel lifted straight out of the Tucson.

The hard, practical plastics that clad the inside are off-set slightly by complex cascading door nooks and pattern work in the plastics, while the piano surround for the centre multimedia screen adds a highlight piece to the centre, even if it’s a little dainty for a work vehicle.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the Staria Load’s design is how much attention has been given to it. It’s one thing to share a brand’s design language from the outside, but it’s quite another to go to the effort to continue it throughout the entire vehicle. For tradespeople, it must feel nice to not be an afterthought.

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

A van cabin should be practical though, and despite its commitment to design, the Staria Load impresses on this front too.

There’s tough seat fabric, a rubber liner for the floor, both good for grip and protection from work equipment, and the hard door and dash claddings are a suitable treatment for an interior that's likely to be bashed about. As such, perhaps the piano-black multimedia surround is one of the least practical things in the interior, likely to get fingerprints, dirt, and perhaps even scratches all over it.

To make matters worse here, there are no dials for fan speed, temperature, or volume control, with all these functions being touch only.

  • The Staria Load's hard dash cladding has pop-open storage trays for similar small tidbits. (Image: Tom White) The Staria Load's hard dash cladding has pop-open storage trays for similar small tidbits. (Image: Tom White)
  • The Staria Load Premium scores a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. (Image: Tom White) The Staria Load Premium scores a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. (Image: Tom White)
  • There are no dials for fan speed, temperature, or volume control. (Image: Tom White) There are no dials for fan speed, temperature, or volume control. (Image: Tom White)

Storage is much better, with a three-tiered cascading door lining offering a large bin for laptops, folios, and big bottles, a second tier which might be good for loose tools, wallets, keys, or phones, and a third one up top perhaps better used as a grab handle.

The hard dash cladding has pop-open storage trays for similar small tidbits, while the driver gets a fixed cup holder cut out from the far right-hand side.

There’s a set of two trays above the seats with flexible netting good for holding folios or perhaps even laptops, while there’s a cut-out below the media unit that houses a wireless phone charger. This area is rubberised, so it can even hold loose objects like keys if need be.

Our test car was fitted with a cargo gate ($899) and heavy duty floor mat ($745). (Image: Tom White) Our test car was fitted with a cargo gate ($899) and heavy duty floor mat ($745). (Image: Tom White)

Below this, there’s a pop-out bottle holder that suits larger bottles than the fixed piece over to the right of the dash, and below this there’s a large bay with two USB connectors and a 12v outlet.

A large space lies vacant between the driver and front passenger, a space that can be filled by a fridge if chosen from the accessories list ($1299). Great for keeping your chicken sandwich out of the danger zone.

Now the important stuff. Is the Staria Load big enough for your trade or fleet? Well, the total storage area volume comes in at 4935 litres, which is not bad for the segment, but still falls significantly short of the HiAce’s massive 6200L space. So if it’s space you need, the HiAce is still king.

The Staria Load's total storage area volume comes in at 4935 litres. (Image: Tom White) The Staria Load's total storage area volume comes in at 4935 litres. (Image: Tom White)

Payload is 1072kg, which is almost bang-on a match for the HiAce (1075kg), although towing capacity for the Staria is significantly higher, at 2500kg, compared to the HiAce’s 1500kg in automatic form. All may make a big difference specific to your trade or use-case.

For those wanting further specs, the cargo dimensions come in at 2607mm long, 1640mm wide, and 1436mm tall. There are eight tie-down points on the floor.

Our car was fitted with a cargo gate ($899) and heavy duty floor mat ($745) but it’s possible to go to town on the accessories list, which includes everything from optional window panels, security mesh, roof mountings for various attachments, and bull bars. One thing I couldn’t find on the accessories list which I would have liked is additional LED lighting for the cargo area.

Unfortunately, the Premium is only available with the powered hatch tailgate. (Image: Tom White) Unfortunately, the Premium is only available with the powered hatch tailgate. (Image: Tom White)

I unloaded this van at night, and the amount of light inside, provided by the cabin door open lights and a single bulb near the tailgate, was notably limited. It’s not as though there’s limited space overhead for additional light fittings.

Other standard benefits include the dual-side sliding doors, although, again, some may find it’s a shame the Premium can’t be fitted with the barn door option.

While the rear hatch is very large, limiting the spaces in which it will fully open, one benefit of the Premium grade’s powered tailgate is that it can be stopped, allowing you to partially open it to access the inside, even in height-limited locations.

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

There’s only one engine and transmission option for the Staria Load, a 2.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel unit, mated to an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission to drive the front wheels.

This combination is notable as it is sourced from Hyundai’s passenger car range, and isn’t a diesel that has been specifically built for a van, or sourced from a truck.

While this comes with significant benefits for refinement, unlike the people mover version, there isn’t the option for a V6 petrol engine or all-wheel drive in the Staria Load range.

Under the bonnet of the Staria Load is a 2.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. (Image: Tom White) Under the bonnet of the Staria Load is a 2.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. (Image: Tom White)

Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

Officially the Staria Load will consume 7.0L/100km in combined duties, and during my testing, which involved combined road conditions, as well as carrying a 5- 600kg load across Sydney, it produced a final fuel consumption number of 7.5L/100km. Impressive.

The fuel tank measures 75L, suggesting a longer range than the HiAce, which has both a higher fuel consumption and a smaller tank.

Driving – What's it like to drive?

Since when are commercial vehicles so nice to drive? The Staria Load continues the trend started by the most recent HiAce and Volkswagen Caddy, bringing passenger-car-like dynamics, ride quality, and refinement to a van.

Even last-generation products still on sale, like the VW Transporter, Renault Trafic, and Peugeot Expert, just to name a few, are rough-riding and noisy in comparison, because why would they be good? These are just tools of a trade, right?

But the Staria Load questions this formula, with its light, reactive steering, smooth, SUV-like ride even when unladen, and distant diesel rumble from its more passenger-car-like engine.

In fact, the eight-speed automatic transmission is perhaps the most impressive part of the Staria Load’s drive experience, with seamless, appropriate shifts, void of surging or shunting through the drivetrain.

The Staria Load brings passenger-car-like dynamics, ride quality, and refinement to a van. (Image: Tom White) The Staria Load brings passenger-car-like dynamics, ride quality, and refinement to a van. (Image: Tom White)

When loaded up with roughly 5- 600kg (roughly half this van’s payload) worth of garden equipment, pots, plants, soil, and tiles, the ride further improved if only by a little over the rear, while the engine barely felt the increase in weight.

When it comes to the small things, Hyundai has you covered, too. Visibility is excellent out the front, with enormous windows and wing-mirrors with a wide view, while the 360-degree parking camera on this Premium grade cleverly splits the centre screen to show you either the reversing camera or forward-facing camera alongside a top-down aspect, helping you not dent the van’s expansive panels.

This combines with the little passenger car luxuries on the inside to make for a relaxing, easy van to drive. Much more a complete experience than just a work tool, the Staria Load will leave you feeling well rested, even after a long day.

  • When loaded up with roughly half this van’s payload, the ride further improved if only by a little over the rear. (Image: Tom White) When loaded up with roughly half this van’s payload, the ride further improved if only by a little over the rear. (Image: Tom White)
  • The Staria Load's engine barely felt the increase in weight when loaded with garden equipment, pots, plants, soil and tiles. (Image: Tom White) The Staria Load's engine barely felt the increase in weight when loaded with garden equipment, pots, plants, soil and tiles. (Image: Tom White)

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

Safety is often a tough topic for commercial vans, as they tend to be replaced and updated less often than their passenger car counterparts. Thanks to the Staria Load starting from scratch, however, Hyundai has had the opportunity to build safety in from the get-go.

Active safety items, which are rare on any van in this size and price range, include auto emergency braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, driver attention alert, and adaptive cruise control. The Premium grade also adds adaptive high beams, as well as blind spot view cameras, which almost feel like overkill.

The Staria has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating. (Image: Tom White) The Staria has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating. (Image: Tom White)

There’s a whopping seven airbags in the tiny cabin area of the Staria Load, including dual front, dual side, dual curtain, and a front centre airbag.

Thanks to this impressive suite of equipment, the Staria has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating to the latest and most stringent standards. The only rivals that carry an equivalent current rating include the Caddy Cargo and HiAce. It cannot be stated enough the jump in safety standards these vans have compared to previous-generation products. 

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

The Staria needs to be cheap to run, and for the most part, it appears to be. Servicing is required once every 12 months or 15,000km, and the price is fixed to $360 per visit for the first five years.

Interestingly, Toyota’s HiAce needs to be serviced twice as often (every six months or 10,000km) costing $290 per visit for only the first three years, comparatively unappealing.

Hyundai’s commercial vehicle warranty is not quite as comprehensive as it is for its passenger car range, with the same five years, but just 160,000km of distance covered.

The Staria Load requires servicing every 12 months or 15,000km. (Image: Tom White) The Staria Load requires servicing every 12 months or 15,000km. (Image: Tom White)

The HiAce’s hold on the van market will be tough to shake, but if there are any reasons for fleets, small businesses, or sole traders to consider an alternative, the Staria Load has pretty much all of them.

It might not have the expansive interior dimensions or range of body styles offered by its key rival, and it might not be as cheap as some others in this space, but it does offer so many other benefits and luxuries which are seldom afforded to vans in this class.

Not only that, but it looks downright cool, is one of the safest vehicles in the segment, and is seemingly inexpensive to run, too. What’s not to like?

$51,240

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4.3/5

Tradies score

4.3/5
Price Guide

$51,240

Based on new car retail price

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.