Hyundai iX35 2010

Hyundai ix35 Review & Road Test

Rating: 7.0
$26,990 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
  • Engine Power
  • CO2 Emissions
  • ANCAP Rating
If there were a car award for ‘most improved’, Hyundai would be a stand out contender.
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Models Tested:

  • 2010 Hyundai ix35 Active; 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, petrol; 2WD; six-speed automatic; SUV: $28,990*
  • 2010 Hyundai ix35 Elite; 2.4-litre, four-cylinder, petrol; AWD; six-speed automatic; SUV: $31,990*

CarAdvice Rating - ix35 Active:
CarAdvice Rating - ix35 Elite:

Words by Nadine Armstrong | Photos by Nadine Armstong & Hyundai Australia

Korean manufacturer, European styling, Australian market – it’s a recipe for mixed emotions and is bound to draw out ingrained bias and irrational comments. The Hyundai ix35 deserves some attention and is set to strengthen this manufacturer’s blossoming reputation.

Sadly, there remains many a buyer who scoff at the mere suggestion of buying a Hyundai. The same people are happy to criticise Hyundai based on, well, few facts. If you haven’t driven a Hyundai lately, reserve judgment until you do. If there were a car award for ‘most improved’, Hyundai would be a stand out contender.

I was excited to get into Hyundai’s new compact SUV and after a couple of weeks living with the ix35, I’m a fan... but would I buy one?

Available in three model specifications –Active, Elite and Highlander – the ix35 offers a range of engine variants and specification levels, and spans a broad price bracket.

The entry point is the ix35 Active (pictured below), a two-wheel-drive 2.0-litre petrol, five-speed manual priced at $26,990* or a six-speed automatic for $28,990*.

The mid-spec Elite comes with a 2.4-litre, six-speed automatic, petrol engine priced at $31,990*. It’s also available with the 2.0-litre R-series turbo-diesel with a six-speed automatic for $34,990*.

The range topping Highlander comes with the 2.0-litre R-series turbo-Diesel matched to a six-speed automatic and starts at $37,990*.

Wordsmiths gone mad, the ix35 has been labeled with many colourful descriptors - sporty, athletic, muscular, sophisticated and a fluidic sculpture. It apparently covers all bases, genders, buyers. It certainly has sweeping lines and a sporty look. It also seems to straddle a nice gender balance - not too chunky, but not too girly.

Finished in Eco Green metallic paint, the Elite ix35 gained many a comment – inquisitive and positive – and it’s quite the head-turner on the streets. The hexagonal shape grille on the ix35 is the ‘new face’ of Hyundai and will be seen on future models.

I tested the petrol Active and Elite models, both in six-speed automatic with sequential manual shift.

The cheapest – in both price and appearance – the ix35 Active is great value for money when you examine what’s on offer. Safety features include, six airbag and active front headrests, stability control with traction control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution. Downhill brake control and hill start assist also come as standard. Keyless entry and an alarm, 17-inch steel wheels and a full size spare, electric driver’s seat, auxiliary, USB and iPod/iPhone compatibility and a multi-function steering wheel round off a good seat of features – all as standard on the ix35 Active, and across the entire range. So on paper, it’s looking good. Slip inside the ix35 Active and you will discover a modern, comfortable cabin that can easily accommodate five passengers and a good amount of luggage.

The ix35 Active’s 2.0-litre engine, while no powerhouse, delivers adequate power through a six-speed gearbox. Producing 122kW at 6200rpm and 197Nm at 4600rpm the Active’s engine does a satisfactory job, but is a little slow to respond when you call upon some extra pace. Switching to manual shift mode helps.

Load the ix35 Active with five passengers and boot load of gear and you will feel and hear some strain on the engine, but nonetheless you arrive at your destination, in comfort.

The dash and centre display of the ix35 is a little disjointed in its design. A variety of textured, matte and high-shine plastics mix with faux chrome in a busy angular display of buttons and dials that frame the digital audio display.

Swapping into the ix35 Elite, styling differences are minor, but they step it up where it counts. A leather gear select and steering wheel feels much nicer in hand, and the leather and cloth combination seats and trim lift the tone of the cabin significantly. And the Start/Stop button is a nice touch of maturity for this cabin.

The Elite’s chrome front grille, black exterior side trim, fog lights, 17-inch alloys and roof rails make this vehicle far more visually interesting than the Active.

Aesthetics upgrades are good, but it’s the Elite’s 2.4-litre petrol engine and all-wheel-drive that are the real stars. It delivers a far more composed, powerful and enjoyable drive over the base model Active. The 2.4-litre engine hits peak power of 130kW at 6000rpm and 227Nm at 4000rpm. While not gaining a huge margin over the power and torque of the Active, the Elite delivers it so much better.

The ix35 feels very confident on the road, more so in the all-wheel-drive Elite. But even so, the Active holds itself well on the freeway. Steering and tight cornering is effortless, but, again, the Elite has far more poise than the Active. Keep the Active within its limits however – low speed cornering to be specific - and it’s a very competent drive.

The ix35 has a tight body structure that delivers nice handling with minimal body sway, but the suspension is firm, bordering on harsh, and spoils the ride experience somewhat.

The Elite’s all-wheel-drive and downhill brake control does equip this vehicle for an off-road detour, but with a ground clearance of just 170mm it’s no bush-basher.

All ix35 feature three-point seat belts all round, height adjustable headrests and provide three child-seat anchor points in the second row.

The driver’s seat on all models has six-way electric adjustment, including lumbar adjust.

The driver and front passenger active headrests are positioned at a very annoying angle. I found myself adjusting the headrest far beyond its natural (and I suspect most safe) position to get comfortable. With a ponytail, I was plain uncomfortable (and unless you have the hair to sport a ponytail, you really won’t understand).

I enjoyed the size of the ix35. It is a compact SUV of manageable and functional proportions. The ride height allows for easy entry and exit. My elderly in-laws made comment of this – it’s literally a horizontal slide in to the seat.

Forward and side visibility in the ix35 is good. Rearward visibility is a little tricky, thanks to the large rear pillars and a small rear window. Factor in three rear passenger heads and you’ll struggle to get a rearward view at all. Front and rear parking sensors are an option across the range.

Cargo capacity in the Hyundai ix35 is 730-litres seats up and expands to 1579-litres with the seats down. The load height of the boot is low, making it very easy to load large heavy items. The retractable cover keeps your goods out of sight. The cover also locks into place when you’re making the most of the full boot capacity – unlike some vehicles that leave you with a large retractable blind and nowhere to stow it. There are also good luggage hooks in the boot and the Elite spec comes with a luggage net. Nobody likes to hear the sound of ripe fruit rolling about the boot.

My only criticism of the boot is that the boot lid itself is heavy. It was an effort to pull it closed. And at my height – around 162cm – it’s an effort to reach the boot to pull it down. One of those rubbery boot levers would do the trick.

Small disappointments of the ix35 are, no directional air vents in the second row, passengers will be dirty on this. Like it’s grown up sibling the Santa Fe, the ix35 automatically unlocks your doors when you engage park brake. I don’t like this. It also lacks steering wheel reach adjust. The upset with this omission seems disproportionate in the scheme of things, but it makes it difficult to get a really good driving position, particularly when one vehicle needs to meet the needs of a range of drivers.

The ix35 has good in-cabin storage, including dual cup holders in the front centre console and in the fold down armrest in the rear.

The second row offers all three passengers good comfort. Headroom, leg and shoulder room is very good. Three adults can be seated fairly comfortably; three kids are easily accommodated. Visibility from this row is also good, so passengers won’t feel relegated to the back stalls.

Fuel consumption figures for the petrol range are as follows:

Fuel ConsumptionL/100km2.0-litre petrol 2WD manual2.0-litre petrol 2WD automatic2.4-litre petrol AWD automatic

The ix35 will no doubt be looking to lure buyers from a strong and trusted performer such as the Nissan Dualis.

So is ‘most improved’ really something to be proud of or is the award itself simply reflect a low starting base? Irrespective, the ix35 puts forward a very tidy offering and inclusions such as six airbags, stability control, iPod connectivity and six-way electric seat adjust as standard on the base model are rare and commendable. I would recommend you add the Hyundai ix35 to your shortlist. My hunch is that the Elite diesel may be the pick of the bunch, in terms of price and performance.

CarAdvice is currently testing the diesel-powered Hyundai ix35 Highlander with a review to follow shortly.


CarAdvice Overall Rating - Active:
How does it Drive:
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CarAdvice Overall Rating - Elite:
How does it Drive:
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