The ix35 is a suburban staple, second only to Hyundai's i30 in sales for the brand. And it's easy to spot some of the reasons why -- it's got a commandingly high seating position, plenty of interior space and, in true Hyundai style, lots of goodies for the money.
Our ix35 joined us box-fresh from the range's mid-life upgrade that we hope has settled some of the niggles from launch. Lucky for us we'll have two over the next few months, both of them top-of-the-range Highlanders. The first is the 2.4 litre petrol GDI and the second will be the 2.0 CRDi diesel.
Price / Features
The ix35 range starts at $26,990 for the six-speed manual Active 2.0 petrol front wheel drive. The range climbs through to the 2.4 litre all-wheel drive Elite and then on to the $38,950 Highlander AWD. Both Elite and Highlander are auto-only.
For the money you get plenty of gear. The (long) list starts with leather interior, sat-nav, stereo with bluetooth and USB, panoramic sunroof, electric windows and mirrors and dual zone climate control.
The sat-nav's screen, a 7-incher, is familiar from other members of the Hyundai family. It also displays the reversing camera (one of the better ones we've seen - good resolution and field of view) and manages the stereo and other assorted functions. It's very easy to use but the sat-nav is a bit on the dim side - slow to react and doesn't know where Parramatta is.
The rear seats slide forward and back, the roof has a set of rails for that extra rugged look and the headlights on the mildly restyled nose are projector beams, an improvement on the halogens. The handsome LED daytime running lights are also along for the ride.
As the Highlander is all-wheel drive, there's downhill brake control. You may laugh, but the ix35 is reasonably capable off-road and this function takes the guesswork out of driving down a slippery hill. Or in our case, a steep, wet lawn. The Atomic Orange paint (it is exactly as the name suggests) adds $595 to the asking price, as do all the other colours bar white.
The 2.4 litre four is Hyundai's own Theta II. Power is up 6kW to 136kW and torque is up 13Nm to 240Nm. The claimed fuel figure for this six-speed auto only configuration is 9.8l/100km, which isn't exactly class-leading.
The 2.4 is a direct-injected unit and seems reasonably under-stressed, but the weight of all wheel drive and a large-ish bodyshell means a real-world figure north of 12l/100km. The six speed auto is also designed and built by Hyundai and drives all four wheels.
The ix35 has a five star safety rating courtesy of six airbags (front, side and curtain), ABS, brake-force distribution, electronic stability and traction control.
What really strikes you about the new ix35 is the ride. The old one was a bit crashy and fidgeted over bumps and poor surfaces. It didn't have the polish that we've come to expect from modern Hyundais and it didn't fit with the car's ostensible purpose of comfortable family carrier.
This updated car is far, far better. The suspension has had the Australian chassis team treatment (like the i30 SR) and it has worked wonders. It's now a far more fluid car and this has been achieved without wholesale changes to the architecture, just some smart work with dampers, sway bars and springs.
The petrol 2.4 is a willing if coarse-sounding unit and mated to the six-speed automatic transmission. It's no fireball and is probably a little thirstier than we might expect, but its coarse sound doesn't translate to poor driveability, quite the opposite. It's not loud, just not pleasant.
The transmission knocks the edge, though, and in normal pottering about, is perfect for the job.On the freeway, the ix35 is an easy companion, travelling along quite happily without any intrusive wind or tyre roar. As expected, pushing it through the bends on back roads is hardly a rewarding experience, but that's not what this car is set up to do. It is better than the previous model, however.
There are some initial complaints - if you're not wide in the stern, the seats are far too flat and the modest bolstering doesn't hold you in place. This leaves you hanging on to the wheel for lateral support which, if you're rat-running or in aforementioned bends, becomes tiring. Rock-hopping would be extra-difficult. The slippery leather doesn't help.
Having said that, the ix35 has been a constant and cheerful companion. It has done a number of Ikea and airport runs, swallowing luggage, flat packs and multiple child seats. It has also suffered well the incursion of strange children. The interior, while a bit utilitarian and lacking in flair, wipes clean.
It's an easy car to step in and out of (except for toddlers) but ably supports the running of a family, especially a small one such as ours.