If there were such a thing as automotive astrologers Hyundai would have claim to their
effectiveness following wins for its Staria people mover, along with stablemate IONIQ 5
electric SUV, in the 2021 Good Design Awards.
Winning features, the company claims, include a strikingly futuristic look to the Staria
exterior, reminiscent of a spaceship, while a single line from front to back recreates the
curve of light that illuminates the Earth’s horizon at sunrise when viewed from space.
You’ve got to hand it to those South Koreans.
A cruise ship-inspired interior focuses on driver convenience and passenger comfort, with
traditional Korean ‘hanok’ architecture allowing occupants to feel as if the outside scenes
are an extension of the vehicle interior.
Taking the place of the iMax in the Hyundai scheme of things, the Staria is engineered
from the ground up on a dedicated platform shared with the Santa Fe.
Setting the Staria apart from rival people movers is the option of Hyundai’s HTRAC all-
wheel drive system at $20,000 below the people mover alternative. This is available with a
430 Nm 2.2 CRDi turbo-diesel engine.
Front-wheel drive is left to a 200kW 3.5-litre MPi petrol engine. Both are mated with an
eight-speed automatic transmission.
Three spec levels are available – Staria, Elite and Highlander – starting at $48,500, plus
on road costs, for Staria 3.5 petrol (automatic) FWD, rising to $66,500 for the Highlander
2.2 diesel AWD.
On test was the Staria Highlander 3.5-litre petrol auto front-wheel drive, at $63,500. All
models come with a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, complimentary roadside assist
for 12 months, 1500 km 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.
Looking to the future, Hyundai says, the front of the Staria focuses on a wide body-
coloured radiator grille flanked by low-set LED headlights, with a horizontal LED strip
above comprising a centre lamp and daytime running lights.
Panoramic side windows and 18-inch alloy wheels in steel grey extend to a large rear area
of glass with integrated Staria logo. Vertical LED combination lights on either side are
topped off by a spoiler with a built in high-mounted stop light and wiper.
Lowered belt-lines and panoramic side windows improve 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.
On the other hand, second and third row sunshades are on hand to block out unwanted
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.
A 10.25-inch colour LCD instrument cluster includes a digital speedo, trip information, and
visual warnings and system status updates from Hyundai SmartSense and other safety
A 10.25-inch touchscreen sat nav multimedia unit is integrated into the top of the dash
provides a clear view of navigation, audio and other info, including Apple CarPlay or
Android Auto connectivity.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Staria is offered with the choice and 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
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
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 10.5 litres per 100 kilometres
on the combined urban / highway cycle. Our test vehicle used 12 litres per 100 kilometres
in the city and 5.4 litres per 100 kilometres on the motorway.
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.
A selection of drive modes – Normal, Eco, Sport and Smart – offers a range of powertrain
responses to suit driving conditions. 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.
The pandemic put paid to the usual input into the development of the Staria suspension,
as is the case with most new Hyundai vehicles. Something must have rubbed off on
Korean counterparts for the Staria ride and handling are up to class-leading standards.
The planets were aligned for the Staria to carry off the good design award, but will the
revolutionary vehicle shine bright enough to show the way for people movers of the future?
Only time will tell.
AT A GLANCE
Hyundai Staria 3.5 (automatic) FWD $48,500
Hyundai Staria Elite 3.5 (a) FWD $56,500
Hyundai Staria Highlander 3.5 (a) FWD $63,500
Hyundai Staria 2.2 (a) AWD $51,500
Hyundai Staria Elite 2.2 (a) AWD $59,500
Hyundai Staria Highlander 2.2 (a) AWD $66,500
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Hyundai dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Hyundai Staria Highlander 3.5L V6 petrol, 8sp automatic, FWD)
Configuration: Six cylinders in V
Maximum Power: 200 kW @ 6400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 331 Nm @ 5000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 10.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions 188 g / km
DRIVELINE: Eight-speed dual automatic, front-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5253 mm
Wheelbase: 3273 mm
Width: 1997 mm
Height: 1990 mm
Turning Circle: 11.9 metres
Kerb Mass: 2142 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 75 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres