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Hyundai iMax 2012 review

Semi-tough look of the Hyundai iMax people mover will appeal to many.

There’s a lot to be said for designing a people mover that’s based on a cargo van. Hyundai’s iMax is a classic example of this.

While the iMax may not have the sleek look of something like a Toyota Tarago or Chrysler Voyager it has so much more interior space that it can almost be seen as a small bus not a people mover.


Hyundai’s generous warranty apply of five years or unlimited kilometres is much appreciated in those who are in the mortgage-paying, family-raising stage of their lives.


Power and torque figures are a relatively standard 129kW at 6000rpm and 228Nm at 4200rpm. Standard features on the iMax include air conditioning with dual-zones and additional controls in the rear. The audio system has an MP3-compatible CD player with auxiliary input jack.


On a practical note, the iMax has a semi-bonneted body, which is the best compromise between crash safety and interior volume.

Safety gear includes dual front airbags and ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. Dual airbags are considered as a bare minimum by many buyers these days so Hyundai may have to up the ante soon.


There’s enough toughness in the style of the Hyundai iMax to also make it appeal to those who may otherwise have bought an SUV or even a 4WD. Just look at its prominent bonnet, large mesh grille and big headlights that swoop a long way back. There’s no shortage of chrome in the front end.

There are large sliding doors on both sides of the van, making for easy ingress and egress to the second row of seats. Getting into the back is a bit of a squeeze, though the easy sliding of the second row certainly minimises the effort.

The first two rows of seats in the Hyundai can slide backwards and forwards to provide numerous combinations of legroom. The split in the second-row seat sees the single seat on the wrong side for Australia. So the easier to move seat is on the traffic side of the iMax rather than on the kerb side. Presumably this has been done as a cost saving design, and at just $39,990 plus on-road costs, the iMax CRDi is certainly light on the wallet.

Hyundai iMax is capable of carrying eight adults in spacious comfort - typically, people movers carry four adults and three children unless you want to have crowded interior. When the back seats aren't in use the second-row seats slide right back to give a huge amount of limo-like leg space.

Fuel consumption is about seven to nine litres per hundred kilometres on the open road and eight to eleven litres around town. Fill this Hyundai with eight people and motorway cursing means it’s consuming less than a litre of diesel for each person to travel 100 kilometres. Talk about low-cost travel.

Even with a full complement of eight passengers, there is a surprising amount of space in the rear of the iMax for luggage. That’s partly thanks to a boot that’s deeper than that of an SUV with a differential under the floor, but also because it’s a boxy van back there, not a sleek people mover.

Interior stowage space is good, with not one, but two, deep door pockets in each front door; single pockets in the rear sliding doors and rather shallow oddments areas beside the rearmost seats. There are drink holders beside each of the outboard seats.


On the road the big Hyundai iMax people mover rides well and is generally stable. Its shape means it can be affected by strong side winds and the backwash of air from big trucks.The big Hyundai people mover we tested had a 2.5-litre common-rail turbo-diesel.

It has a semi-commercial sound to it, not exactly a truck rattle, but there’s no doubt it’s a diesel at idle. Once up and cruising at a steady speed it’s more subdued in its note. Torque is strong and even with seven people in ‘our’ iMax we had no trouble keeping up with traffic or climbing hills.

Transmission was by a five-speed automatic with tiptronic-type overrides in our test iMax, it works nicely in conjunction with the engine torque characteristics.Though the emphasis in the suspension setup is on comfort, handling isn’t too bad.

There's good turn in and the iMax tracks nicely around corners providing you don’t tackle them at any sort of speed. If you do get cornering wrong understeer will knock the speed back to a sensible level. 

The Hyundai iMax is surprisingly easy to manoeuvre in tight conditions thanks to a tight turning circle. However, it’s a big vehicle and can be challenging in underground carparks.

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(base) 2.4L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $10,340 – 14,190 2012 Hyundai iMAX 2012 (base) Pricing and Specs
Ewan Kennedy
Contributing Journalist


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