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Hyundai iMax 2018 review

The Hyundai iMax Elite is a huge car - an eight-seater van, no less.
Nedahl Stelio
Family reviewer

16 Jul 2018 • 13 min read

This week it was my turn to go out to the markets and do the fruit and veggie shop for the food co-op I’m in, so I needed a big car. And gosh, did I get one! The Hyundai iMax Elite is a huge car - an eight-seater van, no less. I was going to have no trouble with packing boxes of fruit and veg in here. Anyone want a ride?

The Elite is the top of the range of two and it comes in diesel only. So how was it - besides large - while driving around for the week and what did my family think of it? Let’s have a look.

How does it drive?

It's a diesel so you will hear the engine chugging along most of the time, which you kind of get used to. It's a diesel so you will hear the engine chugging along most of the time, which you kind of get used to.

I was pleasantly surprised by the smooth drive in the iMax. Firstly, I thought it was going to feel huge while driving and turning corners, but the turning circle in the iMax is actually smaller than a lot of mid to large SUVs I've driven. So turning corners is instant - it happens as soon as you turn the wheel - and making U-turns is actually a cinch, which I really didn't expect. That gets a big tick from me. 

There's a 2.5-litre turbo diesel engine, so there was a good amount of power to get up hills. (Note, I did not drive the car with a full load of people and luggage, that may change things somewhat.) But hooning around with just two children and not much else in the back it was a very cruisy drive. It's a diesel so you will hear the engine chugging along most of the time, which you kind of get used to.

And while it's big (and wide), as long as you're aware of your size you won't have much trouble manoeuvring into parking spaces. It's high - 1.925m, so just know that and be sure the carpark you're entering can take it. I was fine in my local Westfield and was able to manoeuvre into spots with relative ease. There's a reversing camera and while it's not super high res, it will show you what's behind you which is important in a van like this.

I felt a bit like my dad this week, driving the iMax around! He's a builder and he has a van, and I just felt like I was channeling him all week. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

What does it look like?

it's a van, and it looks like a van, and that's what you get when you buy one of these. it's a van, and it looks like a van, and that's what you get when you buy one of these.

First impressions count. And the first impression you get from the iMax is the overall boxy shape. There's not much in the way of sportiness, not many concessions have been made from turning the tradie-style van into a people mover. It's still really a big rectangle. But I mean, it's a van, and it looks like a van, and that's what you get when you buy one of these.

The interiors are on the super basic end of things, mostly because there is no centre console - the car feels quite naked without it. And even though there are leather appointed seats (tick), a leather steering wheel (tick) and two retractable cupholders (tick), you can't escape the fact there is an empty spot between the two front seats which could have been used for … anything. Extra storage, a place to put your phone and wallet. Whatever. It makes the front of the cabin feel empty and half finished. Of course, it does allow you to walk from the front to the back if you've always had your heart set on that.

The interiors are on the super basic end of things, mostly because there is no centre console - the car feels quite naked without it. The interiors are on the super basic end of things, mostly because there is no centre console - the car feels quite naked without it.

So this affects the way the interior looks. Otherwise everything in the front looks fairly standard from the old-school park brake to the multimedia system. The front two seats in the Elite model are actually heated/ventilated, and there is a double sunroof which extends down the body of the van. All nice touches.

How spacious is it?

The iMax is a big vehicle. There's a step to assist you when getting in, and I most definitely needed it. Space is at a maximum in the front, with lots of light airiness going on and the height of the car makes it feel bigger too. Taller drivers may find the driver's seat to be set a little too high, even in its lowest setting.

In the second row there is plenty of room for fully grown adults. My two children aged four and six were climbing all over, from the second to the third rows, they absolutely loved the space in this car, it felt like a bus to them.

In the second row there is plenty of room for fully grown adults. In the second row there is plenty of room for fully grown adults.

Getting into the last row is a climb. You pop the second row seat down and then pull it forward which does take some effort, and then passengers are able to get into the back. There is a heap of space in the third row and even my 185cm husband could fit back there, but he didn't relish the climb in so I would put elderly passengers and the tallest passengers into the centre row and keep the last one for kids. But children's car seat fixtures are in the middle row, so good luck with that.

There is a heap of space in the third row - but children's car seat fixtures are only in the middle row. There is a heap of space in the third row - but children's car seat fixtures are only in the middle row.

The boot is enormous: 845 litres of space to be exact. Most of it is in height, so while out doing my fruit and veggie shop at the markets, I was able to stack a number of boxes on top of one another, but then had to start stacking the centre and back seats with boxes (because you can only go up so high with fruit and veg boxes on top of one another, suitcases should be fine).

The last row of seats does not fold flat, as it does in the Kia Carnival, so there is no extra length in boot space. Kind of odd because height is only valuable for certain types of objects you want to transport. Still, I had no issues at all with the space in iMax, I was able to take 18 boxes from the markets without even removing the children's carseats. That's pretty good going.

The boot is enormous: 845 litres of space to be exact. The boot is enormous: 845 litres of space to be exact.

How easy is it to use every day?

The general size of the car makes it convenient just because you fit everything in it! Just knowing that things will fit in the car makes driving less stressful to live a parent's life. You could sleep in there if you wanted. 

Actual storage spaces, though, are lacking. There are two cupholders in the front (retractable, I couldn't find them for days), a bottle holder in each door, no cupholders in the middle row (which is annoying) and two cupholders in the back row.

The sliding doors on the car are fairly heavy - so expect to build some arm muscles. The sliding doors on the car are fairly heavy - so expect to build some arm muscles.

The other issue I had was the windows in the middle and back rows - they both open as awning windows. There's a very small gap to suck in fresh air. Granted, both the middle and back row gets their own air conditioning vents that can be controlled manually by back-seat occupants, so that's great. But I know humans in general like fresh air, too.

The sliding doors on the car are fairly heavy - I was fine but I'm not sure my mum, for example, would be happy to do that every day. And then pushing the second row forward to climb into the back can be heavy too. So expect to build some arm muscles.

How safe is it?

There are airbags for front passengers (head and side) but no airbags for the middle or back rows, which is not great if you are using this as a family car. There are two ISOFIX points and three top tethers for carseats in the middle row, none in the back row.

You won't get any of the latest safety tech like auto emergency braking (AEB), lane assist and rear cross-traffic alert. The Hyundai iMax scored a 4-star ANCAP rating when it tested under the far less stringent criteria set by the crash authority way back in 2009.

What's the tech like?

There's a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen and the iMax comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - just plug your phone in and you're all set up with main apps from your phone streaming directly through the screen. You can use maps, play music with Spotify and use voice control to make phone calls and dictate text messages which means you never have to touch your phone and you won't get in trouble while driving! Before you ask, no, you cannot use Instagram through the touchscreen.

What does it cost to run?

Hyundai offers a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. Hyundai offers a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.

The Hyundai iMax Elite comes in at $48,490. Fuel consumption is around 8.8 litres for every 100km which is not bad for a car of this size, if you're always driving with eight people (and if not, carpool!).

Hyundai offers a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with services needed every 12 months or 15,000kms.


The Wrap

As far as vans go, the Hyundai iMax is good if you're after a car that ticks the base level boxes. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it drives and really liked being so high up on the road. It is ultra comfortable and extra spacious - nobody will be squashed in this car. 

I gave it a family rating of 6.5 out 10, taking points off for no centre console, the basic interior and for the lack of airbags and extra safety features that you'd be looking for in a primary family vehicle. My children gave it an 8 - they don't know about safety features, they just loved the bus-like proportions. It was one of their favourite cars. 

Likes

Easy turning
Interior space
Boot space

Dislikes

No centre console
Lack of air bags and advanced safety
Interior styling

Scores

Nedahl:

3.3

The Kids:

4

$40,810 - $48,070

Based on third party pricing data

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