Metallic Paint $375; Rear Barn Doors $550; ESC with Traction Control $700
Words by Matt Brogan Pics by Paul Maric
Hyundai’s i-Series vans have forced a serious re-think on the way we view the humble white van. No longer do we need to endure dull driving dynamics, weak performance and sub-par safety levels because, as I rediscovered this week, this Turkish-built Korean commercial ticks all the boxes expected of a modern work vehicle – and then some.
The inoffensive looks of the Hyundai iLoad Crew Van house a pleasant and comfortable interior with enough space for five adults – or six at a pinch. An easy to drive, easy to manage vehicle Crew Van excels in providing not only a spacious interior, but one offering a satisfying level of standard equipment that includes an MP3 compatible single CD tuner with auxiliary connection, adjustable steering column, air-conditioning, plus a plethora of commodious storage compartments for all those odd-and-ends.
With the engine upfront cabin heat transfer is minimal, an issue often found in older cab-over-engine designs, and despite the large passenger area on offer, heating and cooling remain effective, thanks primarily to the sealed bulkhead between the passenger and cargo compartments.
The passenger compartment boasts twin sliding doors, a real bonus in tight parking situations, and offer pop-out style windows for ventilation and added visibility. The doors also click conveniently in place when open to prevent accidental closing and jammed fingers when parked on an incline. The mechanism is simply released by pulling on the handle as you slide the door shut. Child locks and child seat mounts are also featured.
A heavy duty bulkhead separates the crew from the cargo behind while still enabling rearward vision and enough capacity for a full-size pallet. Unfortunately the bulk head is not readily removable being both riveted and bolted in place, compromising the Crew Van’s otherwise excellent versatility.
Up back a large cargo area, measuring 1,585mm (L) x 1,620 (W) x 1,350mm (H) – and 1,260mm between the wheel arches – also features six heavy-duty tie-down hooks and a thick urethane matted floor. A generous 1,130kg payload is also on offer which, coupled to a 2,000kg (braked) towing capacity, makes the Crew Van’s trade-tough carrying capacity extremely competitive against similarly spec’ed rivals. A back-saving loading floor height of 605mm makes life easy when jumping in-and-out while also allowing 190mm of ground clearance for no-nonsense access to rough building sites.
In fact the only real issue I found with Crew Van’s cargo area this week was not in its size or practicality, but in the large top-hinged tailgate that doesn’t open quite high enough to stop you hitting your head. Fortunately more practical barn-type doors are available as a cost option.
Under the snub-nose bonnet Crew Van features Hyundai’s gutsy 2.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. Developing a healthy 125kW of power from 3,800rpm, and ballsy 392Nm of torque from a low 2,000rpm, Crew Van manages surprising performance – even when loaded – while still achieving a car-like flexibility around town.
The five-speed manual gearbox, mated to a light clutch, offers an excellent ratio spread with a shorter first gear for getting heavy loads on the move. Fuel economy is outstanding with this week’s return of just 8.6/100km – just 100ml more than the ADR average – surprising even myself given the amount of weight carried while moving heavy farm machinery this week.
Confident disc braking and pliant strut front / multi-link rear suspension make for a settled and comfortable ride, atypical to that of most commercial vans. That said the otherwise tactile steering does become a little light, and road feel slightly nervous, at highway speeds when cornering a heavily loaded rear.
In yet another affront to the average white van, Hyundai’s iLoad (and iMax) models offer a very respectable level of safety equipment that have led to ANCAP announcing a four-star rating across the range. Standard safety equipment includes dual-front airbags, anti-whiplash head restraints (in five seating positions) and three-point inertia reel seatbelts in all outboard seating positions. ESC and Traction Control are also available as a cost option (not fitted to our road test vehicle).
Disappointingly the Crew Van’s centre seatbelts are of the lap variety while the front centre passenger also misses out on a headrest.
If I could add to the Crew Van’s standard equipment list I’d opt for the inclusion of standard cruise control, Hyundai’s Bluetooth enabled head-unit and a redesigned key, as the current one has an annoyingly positioned side lock/unlock button that is too easily activate when turning the ignition or accidentally in your pocket. Steering wheel mounted audio controls might also have been a nice idea.
Otherwise the Crew Van is pretty hard to top. It’s safe, comfortable, affordable, frugal and boasts an impressive five-year/160,000 kilometre warranty, and when it comes to a commercial vehicle, who could ask for anything more?