Hyundai’s iMax will never win a beauty contest but, as our car review shows, looks count for nothing when all you need to do is move a crowd.
Big but not beautiful
iMax is big, even for a people mover but within that boxy exterior is enough room to comfortably transport up to eight people and their luggage. Unlike most other people movers that tend to be tight in the third row and sometimes also the second, average-size adults will find sufficient room in all three rows.
Large sliding doors on each side and a massive tailgate provide good access to rear seats and the luggage compartment. There is an excellent walk-through between the front seats, the centre seat row slides fore and aft in a 60/40 configuration and all seats recline. However, unlike some other people movers, you don’t have the option of folding or removing the seats to create more load space.
Once you start to drive, the potentially intimidating size of iMax seems to shrink. Subtle mechanical refinements and functional rather than plush features make it ideal for everyday use.
At the wheel, the presentation is straightforward with clear instrumentation, light controls and well-placed switches. The high seating position creates a commanding view, and big exterior mirrors and reverse parking sensors help make driving easier.
iMax comes in both petrol and diesel, and on the used market it’s fairly evenly split between the two. Most are automatics; in the petrol version it is a 4spd unit, while the diesel gets a 5spd. There’s also a fairly rare manual diesel.
The stronger torque, better automatic and lower fuel consumption of the diesel make it the better choice but this engine can be a little noisy, particularly when cold. An increase in the diesel’s torque for the automatic version in a 2012 update added a bit more punch.
iMax has a well-controlled, comfortable ride and surefooted handling. For such a big, high-riding van, there is not a lot of body roll or pitching, while light steering and a sedan-like turning circle provide good driver feel and make it nimble around town. It also stops well.
With a generous five-year/unlimited kilometre new-car warranty, some later models on the used market will still have a portion of factory cover remaining.
The majority of owners appear happy with iMax, although you will find a few troublesome vehicles. Check the individual car’s history, as some will have been worked hard. Scheduled servicing is every 12 months/15,000km and it is essential that high-quality oil is used. Like all modern engines, neglecting oil changes or stretching service intervals can have serious consequences such as turbo failures or catastrophic engine damage. Poor maintenance is also likely to void any remaining warranty.
iMax petrol (2008-15) $15,300-$33,400
iMax diesel (2008-15) $17,400-$42,400
Approximate Glass’s Guide prices.
FUEL CONSUMPTION: Diesel, 8.0-13.0L/100km. Petrol, 9.5-15.0L/100km.
SAFETY: Electronic stability control is standard on all diesels, and on petrol models from April 2011 on. Four-star ANCAP rating.
TOWING: 2000kg and a 150kg towball load.
THE COMPETITION: Honda Odyssey, Toyota Tarago, Kia Carnival, Chrysler Voyager.