Hyundai iLoad diesel auto 2017 review | road test
March 15, 2017
- Fuel economy
- One tonne-plus payload
- Performance and driver comfort
- Interference on AM band radio
- Wayward cruise control at times
- Lap belt and no airbag for centre seat
Based on new car MSRP
$32,790 to $44,340
Mark Oastler road tests and reviews the new Hyundai iLoad diesel auto with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Toyota's venerable HiAce has been the undisputed leader in the light commercial van market for many years now (even though it's not a genuine one-tonner), but its supremacy in this high volume segment is increasingly under threat from the rise and rise of Hyundai's iLoad.
South Korea's hungry challenger, despite its smaller cargo volume, is continuing to chomp away at Toyota's market share with competitive pricing and excellent all-round performance backed by benchmark warranty, service, and customer support programs.
Is there anything interesting about its design?
The iLoad's rugged rear-wheel drive chassis features a 3200mm wheelbase, MacPherson strut front suspension with power-assisted rack and pinion steering and a rugged leaf-spring live rear axle. Four-wheel disc brakes reside inside 6.5J x 16-inch steel wheels with 215/70R16C tyres, and there's a full-size spare.
The cabin provides a clean and functional workspace with dashboard controls that are well laid-out and easy to use, but misses out on a steel bulkhead behind the seats like its Renault Trafic and Ford Transit rivals (and even the iLoad Crew variant) that seals off the cabin from the noisy cargo bay. We reckon this is now a must for modern working vans, as noise reduction - and therefore fatigue reduction - is a top priority.
The cabin is loaded with useful storage solutions.
The wide cabin door openings and sturdy grab handles on the windscreen pillars make for easy entry and exit. The front passenger bench seat can take two adults, but only just, because the protruding centre dashboard contour leaves insufficient legroom in the middle seat and only provides a lap belt with no airbag in sight. The centre seatback can also fold down to serve as a temporary centre console and (sort of) armrest.
The cargo bay floor is lined in vinyl with a total of 10 tie-down points using sturdy D-shaped shackles. Loading access is via the single rear tailgate (or twin-door option) and windowless sliding doors on each side. Our test vehicle was also fitted with an optional steel mesh cargo barrier behind the seats which we would strongly recommend.
How practical is the space inside?
The iLoad auto's kerb weight of 2062kg is relatively heavy and the cargo volume of 4426 litres is relatively small. However, its 3160kg GVM (gross vehicle mass) allows for a maximum payload of 1098kg and up to 125kg of that can be carried on roof racks.
The maximum braked tow rating of 1500kg is less than some rivals, but with a GCM of 4660kg it can tow those 1.5 tonnes with a full 1.0 tonne-plus payload. Judging by its strong sales figures, this is a workable set of numbers for many buyers.
The cargo bay floor is 2375mm long and 1620mm wide with a maximum load height of 1340mm. Combined with a generous 1272mm between the wheelarches, the iLoad can take two 1160mm x 1160mm standard pallets.
The cabin is loaded with useful storage solutions including a dash top compartment, dual front door storage pockets with bottle holders, another storage compartment with dual cup holders on the rear of the fold-down centre seat backrest, dual retractable cup holders in the centre dash fascia and dual glovebox compartments.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
Our test vehicle was the iLoad Series 2 three seater with 2.5 litre CRDi turbo-diesel and five-speed automatic priced at $41,790. The iLoad offers the choice of a single lift-up tailgate with wiper/washer like our test vehicle, or twin-swing barn doors with 180-degree opening for those wanting rear forklift access.
The Series 2 upgrade includes minor cosmetic changes, relocated radio aerial to rear of roof, driver and outer front passenger side (thorax) airbags, a reversing camera (single tailgates only), cruise control (diesel automatics only) plus a new 7.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system with MP3 capability, 'Siri Eyes Free' (iOS) and 'Google Now' (Android) voice activation.
This is in addition to numerous existing features including a tilt-adjustable steering wheel with inbuilt audio controls, power front windows, AUX/USB/iPod/Bluetooth connectivity, manual air-con and a handy 12-volt outlet in the dash, to name a few.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
Hyundai's 2.5 litre CRDi common rail DOHC four cylinder turbo-diesel with variable-geometry turbocharger (VGT) is top of the range in iLoad engines and only available with the auto transmission. Refined and powerful, this is a gem of an engine for such a work-focused application with 125kW at 3600rpm and a bountiful 441Nm of torque between 2000-2250rpm. If that sounds a bit peaky it's not, as the turbo's variable vanes keep ample torque flowing well either side of that range.
The iLoad is a nippy and manoeuvrable performer in stop-start city and suburban environments.
A five-speed automatic with manual shift option is also well suited to this role. The overdriven fifth gear (0.840:1) combined with the 2.929:1 diff ratio allow highway speeds to be maintained at the most efficient engine rpm.
What's it like to drive?
The iLoad is a nippy and manoeuvrable performer in stop-start city and suburban environments, thanks to a sharp 11.2m turning circle and well matched torque converter stall speed and gear ratios, which generally keep the engine singing along at or near its 2000rpm torque peak.
However, it does have a tendency to hang onto top gear for too long, groaning along at around 1500rpm when it feels like the auto should kick down a cog.
Wide cabin door openings and well-placed grab handles make for easy access. Driver comfort is good with high and supportive seating providing excellent all-round vision, nicely-weighted rack and pinion steering and thoughtful placement of gearshift, handbrake, left footrest and particularly the dashboard contour that the driver's left leg often rests against.
It displayed little change in ride quality with no bottoming out evident on a variety of roads.
At highway speeds the engine loped along with only 1900rpm at 100km/h and 2000rpm at 110km/h. Wind and engine noise were impressively low and it remained rock solid in strong cross-winds. However, without a steel bulkhead between the cabin and cargo bay, tyre roar mainly from the rear wheel housings became quite intrusive at speeds above 80km/h, depending on road surfaces.
It easily coped with the 975kg we loaded aboard, which with a 92kg driver added up to 1067kg, or just under its maximum 1098kg payload. The rear leaf springs compressed 50mm and the nose rose 10mm, yet it displayed little change in ride quality with no bottoming out evident on a variety of roads. Its RWD configuration was appreciated, particularly on loose surfaces, with the bulk of the payload pressing down on the driven wheels for sure-footed handling and traction.
It hardly noticed the set climb on our test route with this load, easily maintaining the 60km/h speed limit on a long 14 per cent gradient in third gear and 2000rpm with a light throttle opening. Engine braking on the way down required applying the brakes in a few places to stop the engine spinning up to the 4500rpm redline on over-run, which is typical of sub-3.0 litre diesels trying to withhold maximum payloads on steep descents.
Our only criticisms are of the wayward cruise control, which several times surpassed the pre-set speeds by as much as 10km/h and seemed to struggle in self-adjusting on the long gradual gradients typically found in highway driving. The radio was also affected by some dreadful high-pitched interference on the AM band at times (too bad if you like talkback).
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
ANCAP safety rating
The iLoad falls one star short of the maximum five-star ANCAP rating, largely due to the centre seat passenger only having a lap belt and no front airbag. Otherwise it's armed with all the usual active and passive safety features including electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) which is important in load-lugging vehicles, and driver and outer passenger front and side (thorax) airbags. Like most commercials, it lacks active safety features like AEB, blind-spot detection or collision alerts.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?
Basic warranty5 years / 160,000 km warranty
Hyundai offers a five year/160,000km warranty for the iLoad, and recommends service intervals of 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.
Capped price servicing of $349 ($499 for 60,000km service only) is offered, and there's complimentary Roadside Assist for the first 12 months, a Sat Nav Update Plan, Roadside Support Plan for up to 10 years and a dedicated Customer Care Centre.