The Hyundai Staria Load is the newest arrival in a van segment that is booming due to the increase in online shopping and parcel deliveries. And, as we discovered, it can be more practical than a ute.
- Cheaper price and a longer list of standard equipment than a Toyota HiAce
- Commanding driving position, practical and roomy cabin
- Good roadholding and braking (for a van) in dry weather
- The halogen headlights are abysmal on low or high beam
- Nexen tyres are dicey in the wet
- Polarising design
The Hyundai Staria Load is the first all-new delivery van from the South Korean carmaker in 14 years.
While the futuristic styling may be polarising, it masks significant upgrades to safety and technology.
Indeed, it has a longer list of standard equipment and more capability than the market-leading Toyota HiAce – and yet it has a lower drive-away price.
Sales of delivery vans are booming due to the increase in online shopping and parcel deliveries during – and in the wake of – the global pandemic.
And, as we discovered in this test, vans can also be more practical than utes.
Equipped with a tow bar, we hooked up a jet ski trailer to see see if vans are a viable alternative to Australia’s top-selling pick-ups.
How much does the 2023 Hyundai Staria Load cost in Australia?
Since day one, the Hyundai Staria Load has been available from $47,990 drive-away for the two-seater, twin sliding side door version with a lift-back tailgate.
A ‘barn door’ version – called Twin Swing in Hyundai-speak – is available as a no-cost option.
The five-seater Crew Van costs $54,250 drive-away.
Metallic paint – silver – is the only option ($695).
The vehicle on test was equipped with a genuine Hyundai tow bar and wiring harness $1399, cargo barrier $899, cargo area air-conditioning curtain $269, and cargo area rubber floor mat (detailed below).
|Key details||2023 Hyundai Staria Load|
|Colour of test car||Creamy White|
|Accessories||Tow bar – $1399
Cargo barrier – $899
Cargo area air-conditioning curtain – $269
Cargo area rubber floor mat – $745
|Price as tested||$51,302 drive-away|
|Rivals||Toyota HiAce | Ford Transit Custom | Volkswagen Transporter|
How much space does the 2023 Hyundai Staria Load have inside?
The Hyundai Staria Load has more cabin space than one might expect for a van.
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There is overhead storage in the roof lining above both front seats (a feature normally reserved for the next class of vans up in size), three tiers of storage pockets in both front doors, two large trays on the top of the dash, a cupholder in front of the driver, and handy pockets for small change in the top of the door panels.
Most buttons and dials are well positioned and easy to use, with the exception of the volume knob, which is a bit of a reach because it is on the passenger side of the infotainment screen.
Conveniently, there are extendable sun visors, illuminated vanity mirrors (with a ticket holder in the cover), and one-touch auto-up functionality on both front windows. The side mirrors are heated to get rid of frost on cold or humid mornings, and power-fold at the press of a button.
The instrument cluster is a large horizontal digital display with easy-to-read vital signs and a large speed readout.
There is a large empty space between the front seats (the park brake lever has been replaced by an electronic switch on the dash), and a decent-sized glovebox in front of the passenger seat.
A wireless smartphone charger is located under the air-conditioning controls in the middle of the dashboard.
The cargo hold is longer and taller than that of the Toyota HiAce, though brochure details show the Hyundai Staria is slightly narrower.
Twin sliding windowless side doors are standard on the Hyundai Staria Load; the Toyota HiAce offers the option of single or twin sliding doors (windowless or with a window on the passenger side).
|2023 Hyundai Staria Load|
Does the 2023 Hyundai Staria Load have Apple CarPlay?
The infotainment system is accessed via an 8.0-inch digital display in the middle of the dash and plays audio via a two-speaker sound system. AM/FM radio is standard but digital radio and embedded navigation are not available.
Wireless Apple CarPlay – and wired and wireless Android Auto – are standard. There are two USB charging ports and one 12V power socket.
The wireless phone charging pad in the dash pocket worked on and off with our smartphone, which was impeded somewhat by its bulky heavy-duty case.
The wireless Apple CarPlay connection was also hit-and-miss, although the phone’s audio quality was fair when it worked. I switched to earbuds so I could stay connected without interruption, hear callers more easily, and avoid yelling.
It’s true what they say, empty vessels do make the most noise.
Is the 2023 Hyundai Staria Load a safe car?
The Hyundai Staria Load is the safest van on sale today. It was awarded a five-star safety rating when tested against tougher protocols introduced in 2021.
The Toyota HiAce also has a five-star score, but it was awarded in 2019 against less stringent criteria.
Both vans – now ‘semi-bonneted’ to create a bigger crumple zone – do a top-class job of protecting occupants in a crash, unlike their predecessors that had comparatively poor safety ratings.
The Hyundai Staria Load has an extra layer of protection, with an airbag between the front seats to prevent head strike between occupants in a severe side impact crash.
As with the Toyota HiAce, the Hyundai Staria Load has autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise control, speed sign recognition, lane-keeping assistance, blind-zone warning, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and a rear-view camera.
The Hyundai Staria Load adds the peace of mind of individual tyre pressure monitors and a forward-facing camera, while the Toyota HiAce has stolen vehicle tracking and an SOS button to press in an emergency.
How much does the 2023 Hyundai Staria Load cost to maintain?
The warranty for the Hyundai Staria Load is five years/unlimited kilometres for private buyers.
However, commercial users such as fleets, small businesses, and couriers are covered by a five-year/160,000km (the same conditions as the Toyota HiAce).
Service intervals for the Hyundai Staria Load are 15,000km/12 months (whichever comes first), versus more frequent visits for routine maintenance for the Toyota HiAce (10,000km/six months).
This anomaly makes the Hyundai Staria Load cheaper to service than the Toyota HiAce over a three-year period ($1080 versus $1560) or 60,000km ($1440 versus $1560).
NRMA Insurance quotes an annual premium of $1537 based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.
|At a glance||2023 Hyundai Staria Load|
|Warranty||Five years, unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1080 (3 years)
$1440 (4 years)
$1800 (5 years)
Is the 2023 Hyundai Staria Load fuel-efficient?
The official fuel-rating label number for the Hyundai Staria Load shows an average consumption of 7.0L/100km (14 per cent more efficient than the Toyota HiAce figure of 8.2L/100km in the same test conditions).
This is one of the advantages of the Hyundai Staria Load’s 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (130kW/430Nm) and eight-speed auto, versus the Toyota HiAce’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel (130kW/450Nm) and six-speed auto.
During our time with the Hyundai Staria Load, consumption dipped into the 7.5L/100km range when empty during free-flowing inter-urban driving, and climbed to 8.5L/100km when towing a relatively light jet ski and trailer (about 600kg all told) in light traffic conditions.
The eight-speed automatic operates intuitively and easily slips into the most efficient gear when appropriate.
On balance, the Hyundai Staria Load was more efficient than we were expecting.
Of course, consumption would increase with cargo on board (the Hyundai Staria Load has a maximum payload of 1072kg versus the Toyota HiAce’s maximum payload of 1075kg).
|Fuel Useage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||7.0L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||7.5 to 8.5L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||75L|
What is the 2023 Hyundai Staria Load like to drive?
The Hyundai Staria Load is surprisingly easy and comfortable to drive.
The steering is light and precise, the brakes have a reassuring feel, and dry-weather grip is fair for the class. (However, the wet-weather grip of the Nexen tyres is well below par, even for a van).
Visibility is excellent and the cabin is a pleasant environment to clock up a lot of hours behind the wheel.
After a week with the Hyundai Staria Load, you quickly become accustomed to the commanding view of the road ahead, the ample oddment storage, and the ease of getting in and out of the driver’s seat.
Although we didn’t drive the Staria Load back-to-back with its plush Staria people-mover twin, our impressions are that the delivery van feels more sure-footed and better sorted on the road, even though it’s a delivery van.
It’s as if Hyundai’s engineers spent most of their time on the commercial vehicle, and then softened everything off too much for the family van.
Our time with the Hyundai Staria Load made us question Australia’s love affair with double-cab utes.
The Hyundai Staria Load can’t go off-road – and nor can it tow 3500kg. But for many buyers, a van like the Hyundai Staria Load could be just the ticket.
It can carry a decent payload of more than one tonne and tow up to 2500kg (750kg unbraked) versus the Toyota HiAce’s modest towing capacity of 1400kg (400kg unbraked).
The Hyundai Staria Load towed the light jet ski trailer with ease; the only potential complication is clearance near the bottom of the tailgate and the top of the tow hitch.
The tailgate cleared the trailer’s tow hitch by millimetres but the winch handle got in the way. A removable winch handle (or better planning when deciding where the winch handle will finish up) are alternatives.
Or you could opt for a ‘barn door’ version of the Hyundai Staria Load and be in the clear (though you lose the convenience of using the open tailgate as shelter from the weather when loading or unloading).
Advantages of the Hyundai Staria Load compared to a double-cab ute include a more practical front cabin, tighter turning circle, much larger cargo hold, taller driving position, better fuel efficiency, and better dry-weather on-road grip compared to all-terrain tyres typically fitted to off-road pick-ups.
The tighter turning circle also made it easier to reverse the jet ski trailer and manoeuvre it in tight spaces. And there’s plenty of room in the back of the van for wet-weather gear or whatever else you need for a big day out.
In addition to the poor wet-weather grip of the Nexen tyres, we have just one more gripe with the Hyundai Staria Load. The halogen headlights are abysmal.
Compared to the LED headlights that are increasingly standard on many new cars these days, the low and high beams seem like they have the effectiveness of a couple of lit matches.
If Hyundai could address shortcomings in the tyres and the headlights, it would have a winner on its hands.
|Key details||2023 Hyundai Staria Load|
|Engine||2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel|
|Power||130kW @ 3800rpm|
|Torque||430Nm @ 1500–2500rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Eight-speed torque converter automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||67kW/t|
|Spare tyre type||Full-size|
|Tow rating||2500kg braked
Should I buy a 2023 Hyundai Staria Load?
The Hyundai Staria Load makes a compelling case on paper and behind the wheel.
It is more affordable, more fuel-efficient, more capable, and has more safety technology than the Toyota HiAce.
The only barriers to buying: the polarising design, weak headlights, and slippery tyres in the wet.