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Superstar-ia: 2021 Hyundai Staria Review

Before we get onto the topic at hand which is the new Staria, let’s first take a trip down memory lane and revisit the Hyundai iMax. A favourite of families, rentals and tradies, the Imax’s practicality was loved by all. Space on the inside was aplenty, cabin quality good too and the drive was remarkably car like. Sounds good right? What if I told you that the Staria is better, a lot better!

Seriously, this is a game changing MPV in virtually every aspect. I can understand if you’re puzzled so let me explain my theory.

Rear three quarters view of the 2021 Hyundai Staria people mover
The retro inspired LED lights give this MPV a unique style

The first thing that you notice about the Staria is how remarkably different it looks to anything on the roads. The LED light strip at the front, the light bars at the back and those unique wheels, this isn’t your average MPV. It’s space age styling earned it all sorts of looks on my travels, most of which were inquisitive followed by amazement. Even my group of car enthusiast friends adored the Staria!

Sure it’s big but then an 8-seater MPV needs to be! Especially if it’s really going to be an 8-seater. Yes, a normal sized human being can actually fit into all three rows of seating in the Staria and comfortably too. Getting into any of those aforementioned rows is easy as well. For the driver and passenger, the doors are standard and come with a step to make it easier to get into those high chairs. The rear passengers on the other hand have access through the electronic sliding doors which open with a slight tug to the handle or a button on the keyfob. Easy as pie!

Side view of the 2021 Hyundai Staria people mover
The high roof provides a huge sense of space on the inside

Once you’re inside the Staria, the first thing you will notice is just how high tech it is. You get all the bells and whistles that any other Hyundai at this price range would get which is an excellent quality of the interior. Speaking of the quality, fit and finish is generally top notch. Clumsy old me accidentally bumped my knee against the gear selector several times but it always remained firm. Now that’s build quality!

Interior of the 2021 Hyundai Staria people mover
Plenty of lights both inside and out!

The infotainment unit is typical Hyundai which means it includes plenty of nifty little features like ‘Sounds of Nature’ and ‘Voice Memos’. Another one to note is the new ‘Passenger View’ which activates a camera located just in front of the middle row so that the driver can check up on the passengers. Bluetooth connectivity for your phone is seamless as is the general usability of the screen. Wireless charging will keep your precious device topped up while you jam to your favourite tunes through the very impressive factory audio system!

The digital instrument cluster gives you the feeling that you’re piloting a plane with extensive diagnostic data available at the touch of a button. Another feature similar to the cockpit is the overhead control center which literally opens doors, bootlids and even sunroofs. Though make sure your passengers have boarded before you take off!

Overhead controls on the 2021 Hyundai Staria people mover
“Hello passengers, this is your captain speaking”

One of the biggest drawcards of the Staria’s predecessor was in the way it drove, the iMax had almost car like handling. Good news, so does the Staria. The steering wheel is remarkably light but those large mirrors always remind you that there’s quite a bit of car still left to get around that corner. A job made rather effortless by the 2.2 litre turbo diesel four pot. Putting out 130kW and 430Nm, the Staria has no problem pulling but put it under a bit of pressure and you will feel the turbo lag. Truth be told though, that’s rarely ever an issue.

My review model came with Hyundai’s ‘HTRAC’ all wheel drive system meaning that power can be sent to all wheels when needed. That power is delivered through an 8-speed automatic gearbox that really knows its job. You barely feel the shifts as that gearbox works to give you the optimum gear at all times. Not satisfied with that? Then feel free to use the large paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, there’s something I bet you were not expecting!

Front three quarters view of the 2021 Hyundai Staria people mover
I am a big fan of the LED light strip if you can’t tell. Photo credit- KG

The Verdict

That’s really the story with the Staria, it’s a huge surprise. With big shoes to fill and an increasingly busy segment to compete with, this is a van that can hold its own no matter what. Not only does it offer oodles of space on the inside for 8 passengers and luggage, everyone has leather seats and an overhead view courtesy of the dual sunroofs. There’s plenty of tech to play with and a good sound system too. Just keep in mind that you are on display in the front courtesy of the huge windows so make sure you act like a superstar as well!

2021 Hyundai Staria People Mover: 4.5/5

Thanks for reading! For more news and reviews, check out Tarmac Life.
Words and pictures by Matthew D’Souza. Car courtesy of Hyundai Motors New Zealand.
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