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Quick Specs
Make
Hyundai
Model/Variant
ix35 Highlander
Engine
2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Price
$40,990 plus on-road costs
Warranty
Five years/unlimited kilometres
See the full specs Read the full review

So, where did you go on your date?

Mondays are always exciting. They’re usually one of the busiest days in the CarAdvice garage, returning cars we had the week before and picking up new ones. I spotted the Hyundai ix35 and was hoping to score it for the night. I was keen to take it for a run around the city. One of my co-workers had an evening class so I offered to drive him in - very nice of me, yes, but also the perfect excuse to spend a bit more time in the driver's seat. The ix35 is a great size for a family in the city. The high seating position offers great visibility, yet it fits quite comfortably in city-sized lanes. Because I’d had a lazy weekend, I had to stop and do the groceries on the way home. The reverse-view camera made parking a breeze, and the boot is a great size, though the loading lip is slightly high for me. On the way to work the next morning, I went via the beach for a coffee and a photo shoot – and damn she looks fine!

Ideal first date?

If I had more time I’d take this fun-loving compact SUV on a bit of an adventure. Maybe a weekend away to Taronga Western Plains Zoo near Dubbo and spend a day driving around the exhibits. Maybe that’s just the tiger-like colouring talking to me…

Hot or not?

I really like the look of the ix35. Ours was the top-spec Highlander AWD diesel in Atomic Orange. That’s not to be confused with Annoying Orange. Come to think of it some car colour names are that ridiculous; I’d actually love to see Annoying Orange pop up somewhere. At any rate, I think overall it looks fantastic; I particularly like the shape of the headlights and the alloy wheels. It seems like the roofline was designed with racks in mind, they don’t look out of place or ruin the front or side profile. On the other-hand, the oversized black side-protectors are interesting – the more you stare at them the stranger they look.

It's what's inside that counts, what do you think of the interior?

Being the Highlander, you get things like electric leather seats, satellite navigation and a sunroof. The blue ambient lighting is a nice touch too. The cabin feels roomy and the boot comes minus those things manufacturers sometimes overlook that can get annoying. The platform over the full-size spare wheel is placed to create a completely flat surface, in line with the loading lip making it relatively easy to slide stuff in and out.

Standout features?

The seats are very comfortable and the high driving position helps with visibility. The design of the tray under the centre console is eye-catching, with open sides that look almost like handles.

Annoying habits?

I’m literally lost without a built-in sat-nav. My partner has a Kia and it shares its nav platform with this Hyundai. The ix35's became confused, however, when I was driving in a tunnel and started ‘re-calculating’, giving me directions for roads on the surface. Not helpful when I’m underground and not sure when my exit is coming up. I’m also pondering why the rear-view mirror wants to double as a compass. A neon green letter or two in the top right-hand corner lets you know if you’re travelling north (N), southwest (SW), etc. Again, why do I need to know this? I have a sat-nav and I don’t know anyone who plans their journey as the crow flies. The ride can be a little jarring over potholes and bumps, particularly in the rear.

Ready for a family?

Yes, there’s loads of room for two big kids or three smaller tikes. Even with the sunroof, rear headroom is quite generous, and the cargo space is ample for trips away. There are three points to affix car seats, as well as Isofix on the rear outboard seats.

High maintenance?

I don’t think so. When it comes to fuel consumption, the diesel engine is an economical option (and it sounds good). You also get lifetime capped-price servicing, with the first three services capped at $399.

Any deal-breakers?

Nope, not for me. Though for some the price of the Highlander AWD diesel may rule it out. This variant is one of the more expensive in its class.

So, is it serious or just a one night stand?

Though I quite like the ix35, there are many fish in the sea. I’d certainly enjoy driving it again but would like to shop around before deciding if it’s a keeper.

Keeping your options open?

If you’re in the market for a small SUV, you’re spoilt for choice – it’s like a country town where there are eight men for every woman. Depending on your budget, other options include the Subaru XV, Peugeot 2008, Holden Trax, Ford EcoSport, Suzuki S-Cross, Nissan Dualis & Juke, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mercedes GLA-Class, Jeep Compass and Patriot, Audi Q3, BMW XI, Citroen C4, Mitsubishi ASX, and the Skoda Yeti.

If it's not for you, who would you recommend it to?

Young families, active singles and couples, people who go on frequent weekend getaways, and the loud man that lives down the end of my street that’s always struggling to drag his kids' scooters and skateboards in and out of his too-small car.






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