2022 Hyundai Staria Highlander Diesel AWD Review
Price & Equipment:7
Performance & Economy:7
Ride & Handling:8
Interior & Practicality:9
Service & Warranty:9
What we like:
  • Just look at it! It's so refreshingly cool
  • Spacious and reasonable quality cabin
  • Competent driving dynamics
What we don't like:
  • Loud and old tech diesel engine
  • Highlander spec should have more equipment
  • It's absolutely massive - watch out in car parks
8DiscoverAuto Review:

We’ve been utterly impressed by Hyundai recently. Having transformed from making cheap but not-so cheerful cars to genuinely appealing and great quality offerings, Hyundai is now at a step higher and that is making cars that turn heads and shock with appeal. The i30 N was the first car that came under this category, while the recently launched Ioniq 5 has elevated it significantly. Now, there’s a third Hyundai to turn heads: enter the 2022 Hyundai Staria Highlander Diesel AWD

The Staria replaces the iLoad and iMax in the Hyundai line-up and while those offerings weren’t widely regarded as the best products in the world, they did a lot for Hyundai’s sales locally. The Staria effectively occupies the same space as the i-twins – a passenger or load-carrying van. The regular Staria is available with up to eight seats, while the Staria Load van – stay tuned for our review of that – offers up to three seats (and a huge load space). Competitors for the Staria include the Kia Carnival, Toyota Granvia and Volkswagen Multivan.

Price & Equipment: 7/10

Pricing for the 2022 Hyundai Staria kicks off at $48,500 plus on-road costs for the entry-level V6 and hits $66,500 plus on-road costs (around $73,000 drive away, depending on your location) for the top-spec Highlander Diesel AWD that we tested.

Standard equipment on the top-spec Highlander includes automatic LED lighting, a leather steering wheel, leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, a 12-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation with live traffic, digital radio, a six-speaker sound system, keyless entry and remote start, powered side doors and a powered boot lid, manual rear sun shades, heated and auto-folding mirrors, dual-zone climate control (including a separate zone for rear passengers), a dual-pane sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, wireless phone charging and an auto-dimming rear mirror.

Safety kit includes seven airbags (including a front centre unit), auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian, cyclist detection and intersection assist, lane keep assist with lane follow assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert (both with automatic braking), auto high beam, safe exit assist, driver attention monitoring, a blind-spot camera, a 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors and adaptive cruise control. 

Available colour options for the Staria include ‘Gaia Brown’, ‘Graphite Grey’, ‘Olivine Grey’ and our test car’s ‘Moonlight Blue’ for $695 extra – ‘Abyss Black’ is the only no-cost option. Interior colour options include black, or for $295 extra (and depending on the exterior colour chosen), either beige and black or dark blue and black. 

Chief competitors to the Staria Highlander Diesel AWD are the Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel ($71,890 drive away) and the Toyota Granvia VX (from around $84,000 drive away). The Staria Highlander sits in between those two cars for value – it gets all-wheel drive as standard, though the Kia does have more standard kit, like a Bose sound system and heated middle seats. There is also a substantial $14,000 price difference between the Staria Highlander and Granvia VX.

Even in the Staria range, the Highlander does look somewhat poorer value than the mid-spec Elite. While the Elite does lose features such as the sunroof, heated seats, a heated steering wheel and the 10.25-inch driver’s display, it does cost over $7,000 less. The Elite still has leather seating with a 12-way electric driver’s seat, electric doors, remote start, the full level of safety kit and the larger 10.25-inch central touchscreen.

Performance & Economy: 7/10

Under the bonnet of the 2022 Hyundai Staria Highlander Diesel AWD is the familiar ‘R-Series’ 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine that served in the pre-updated Santa Fe SUV. It produces 130kW of power (@3,800rpm) and 430Nm of torque (between 1,500-2,500rpm) and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Like in the Santa Fe – which shares the Staria’s platform – the V6 is front-wheel drive, while the diesel is all-wheel drive. 

Because the diesel in the Staria is not the latest ‘Smartstream’ unit as in a new Santa Fe, it does feel like a generation behind the latest engine – it’s nowhere near as quiet, nor as punchy. Thanks to a heavy 2,255kg kerb weight and with only 130kW on offer, the Staria is no rocketship. Hyundai doesn’t claim a 0-100km/h sprint time, but well above 10 seconds would be a reasonable guess. Armed with the latest 148kW diesel engine from the Santa Fe – or even the wonderful 190kW V6 diesel in the Genesis GV80 – the Staria would be a more refined and more efficient product. 

Around town though, the Staria’s engine is a willing performer with excellent low-end shove and with short ratios from the eight-speed auto, it offers totally fine performance. Hyundai claims that it will use 8.2L/100km on a combined cycle, and in purely urban testing, we achieved 11.2L/100km. Our experience of the petrol V6 in the Santa Fe and Kia Carnival shows that its fuel economy borders on scary despite the added performance, so we’d stick to the diesel option. Regardless of the engine chosen, the Staria has a huge 75-litre fuel tank.

Ride & Handling: 8/10

Using the same platform as the Santa Fe and Sorento SUVs – albeit with a longer and taller body – the 2022 Hyundai Staria drives well. While it’s not in any way sporty – and why should it be? – it’s more than comfortable, easy to drive and reasonably well refined, though it can be somewhat loud at highway speeds for road noise. Helping all of this is the independent rear suspension that helps smoothen bumps and the huge windows, which give a great view out and let a lot of light into the cabin – thankfully the Staria has rear privacy glass as standard for hot Australian summers.

Without wishing to offend it, the Staria is a huge car. Measuring 5,235mm long, 1,997mm wide, 1,990mm tall and with a 3,273mm-long wheelbase, the Staria is full 160mm longer than the full-sized Mazda CX-9 and 243mm taller. This means that driving the Staria does need a bit of care, especially with low car parks and in tight areas. Thankfully, it drives a lot smaller than it is thanks to light [but slow] steering and the aforementioned excellent visibility. 

Interior & Practicality: 9/10

While it’s not as cool or futuristic as the exterior, the 2022 Hyundai Staria’s interior is still sufficiently different to the competition thanks to its layout and technology. The quality is not like the more luxurious Carnival thanks to its commercial bones, but there’s still a good mix of soft and hard materials, quality leathers and excellent integration of technology.

Storage in the Staria is reasonable with lots of cubby holes and cupholders dotted around the cabin for the various tricks and trinkets that life offers. Highlights include multiple dashboard hiding holes, a large configurable centre console, big door pockets and a cool vertical glovebox. We’d like to see centre armrests for the front passengers, though. 

Centre of the Staria Highlander’s cabin is a 10.25-inch touchscreen that does duty in a plethora of Hyundai Kia products. It’s easy to use, great to look at and fully featured with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, digital radio and Staria-specific features, such as a live camera feed over the back seat to see who really hit who. Standard on all Staria models is an average six-speaker sound system – the Bose unit overseas is strangely not offered here. 

All Australian-spec Staria models are equipped with eight seats for now with two seats in the front and three seats in the middle and rear rows. Each row of seating is quite comfortable and reasonable spacious as well – especially for headroom as the Staria is quite tall.

Impressively, the Staria’s rear occupants are offered a lot of features such as USB charging ports, cup holders, a rear zone for the climate control with vents and even a large sunroof panel to let more light in – oddly though, there are no child seat anchors in the third row of seating. 

The bootspace in the Staria measures a huge 831-litres with all seats in place, while folding the third row opens up a total of 1,303L (Hyundai doesn’t quote a figure for the second row folded). The seats aren’t removable but they can all be folded down, unlike the Carnival. All Staria models have a full-size alloy spare wheel. 

Service & Warranty: 9/10

The 2022 Hyundai Staria Highlander Diesel AWD comes with Hyundai’s five-year/unlimited km warranty with a year of roadside assistance that’s topped up to five years in total with each scheduled dealer service. Five years/75,000km of servicing costs $1,800 ($360 per service), which is quite affordable and cheaper than the Kia Cerato, for example.

In comparison, the Kia Carnival has a seven-year warranty but it costs $2,573 ($514 per service) to service over the same five year/75,000km period, while the Toyota Granvia costs $3,539 ($707 per year) though its service intervals are once every six months or every 10,000km. 

The 2022 Hyundai Staria Highlander Diesel AWD DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.0/10

The 2022 Hyundai Staria Highlander Diesel AWD is a genuinely fresh product in the market – especially in the dwindling people carrier space. Like the wombat Toyota Tarago in the 1990s, the Staria’s take on the people carrier formula is modern, futuristic and – in a big surprise for a people carrier – just so damn cool. Unlike pretty much every other competitor, the Staria has character and its styling makes it so loveable. Definitely a car you’ll want to invite in every night instead of leaving on the street and it’s this cool factor that makes it a winner in our eyes.

Sure, it’s not perfect with its huge size, lacking features in Highlander spec and lacklustre engine, but it drives well, it’s very spacious, filled with technology and can be reasonably cost effective to buy and run (though we’d definitely choose the mid-spec Elite as it doesn’t lose much equipment but costs a lot less). We think a Kia Carnival is a better option at this price point, but the Staria definitely is a great option for those wanting a lot of space.

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