The 2018 Hyundai iLoad is making serious inroads into the working van segment, and provides a more than viable alternative to the ubiquitous Toyota HiAce vans you see working to earn their keep all over Australia. This new iLoad has a focus on interior comfort as well as infotainment too, making it more of a sensible work tool than ever before.
The HiAce story mirrors that of stablemate HiLux in many ways. It’s not the best van in the segment, not the most affordable, and not the first we’d recommend to buyers looking for a new work conveyance. And yet, it’s the most common sight in towns and cities around Australia regardless of those statements above. Sure, the dealer network plays its part, but buyers need to know there are other alternatives out there.
Anyway, enough of the Toyota sales success story. Let’s take a closer look at this iLoad…
We’ve been on a bit of a commercial bent at the CarAdvice offices lately, and that makes sense with the end of the financial year having just ticked over. Leading up to that point, and not long after, we like to take a closer look at the options on offer. Having just hopped out of the Renault Trafic, I was keen to sample the Hyundai iLoad given its increasing popularity among buyers who actually use their vehicles for work.
The iLoad has been refreshed for the 19MY as well, with new styling for the snout and new standard inclusions. On the subject of the nose job, there’s a new grille that sits more harmoniously with the Hyundai family DNA. There are also headlights that are squarer than the old model – an overall improvement if you ask me.
Inside, there’s a height- and reach-adjustable steering column, which might sound like a small addition barely worthy of mention, but so few work vehicles provide this feature, it is indeed worthy of note. There’s also a new instrument display, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, and revised cloth trim.
Of particular note with the infotainment upgrades is the provision of smartphone mirroring with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and vital in my opinion for a vehicle that works for a living. There are no more excuses for anyone driving an iLoad to be fiddling with their smartphones while behind the wheel, and if you ask me, that’s a good thing.
There’s an excellent rear-view camera (with guidelines) that is both wide and clear, auto headlights, six-speaker audio system, folding side mirrors, and 16-inch alloy wheels. There’s also cruise control (for automatic-equipped models) and air conditioning on the standard equipment list.
On test here, we have the iLoad 2.5-litre CRDi in liftback guise, with pricing that starts from $41,790 before the usual on-road costs. The only option fitted to our test vehicle is the cargo barrier – $756 including GST on top of that starting price.
You could argue that swing-out barn doors might be more practical, and in some cases they are. As such, they can be had as an option for iLoad buyers. Both have their merits, and I’ve spoken to tradies and delivery drivers who swear by one or the other. Personal preference, right? I’ve been whacked in the back by a swing-out barn door, but I’ve also hit my noggin on a lift-up door too, so it depends on what is most flexible for you with the type of work you do. Regardless, Hyundai provides for both.
Powering the iLoad is a punchy 2.5-litre turbo diesel engine generating 125kW and 441Nm that's backed by a five-speed automatic transmission. The engine is a hell of a lot more refined than you’d expect it to be, and the pairing between engine and gearbox is excellent too. It’s smooth at take-off, quiet at idle, doesn’t vibrate heavily through the chassis, and doesn't struggle when taxed with a good few hundred kilos either. It’s a solid combination for a work vehicle in the real world, that's for sure.
The ADR fuel-consumption claim is an efficient 8.8L/100km for the combined cycle, and we managed to extract 10.5L/100km in the real world with an even mix of city and highway running both empty and with around 500kg of gear in the back. As always with vans, they aren't heavily focused on towing, and as such you get a rating of 1500kg braked and 750kg unbraked. A 1096kg payload is more than enough to get the job done in this segment.
The cabin is as good as any commercial van I’ve tested – in terms of amenities, visibility and, perhaps most importantly, comfort. It’s that good. I loved the seat position relative to the steering wheel, climbing into and out of the cabin is near perfect, and the visibility is excellent too.
The addition of Android Auto/Apple CarPlay has made a huge difference to the phone connectivity obviously, and it makes using your smartphone maps, messaging, and making phone calls easier and safer. The connection via cable was crystal clear too, and despite the lack of a solid cargo barrier, there was never any difficulty hearing callers at the other end, or being heard myself. As always, we’d definitely option the cargo barrier in, simply to make the cab section quieter and easier to heat/cool.
We love the fold-down centre back in the middle of the split bench seat, because it provides storage for wallets, phones and paperwork, along with two extra bottle holders. The centre of the bottle holders also works for small coffee cups if you like your coffee short.
There’s a retractable bottle holder for the passenger in the dash itself, and the door bins are enormous with plenty of space for A4-sized pads, paperwork or tablet computers if your job requires it. Storage is something often overlooked in work vehicles, but the iLoad has plenty and it’s useful too.
The driving position itself is excellent. As mentioned above, the seating position itself is near perfect, and the visibility helps when it comes to manoeuvring around town too. Just over 3.5 turns lock to lock is part of that equation, as is the 11.22m turning circle. It’s hard to think of a more enjoyable work van to drive on a day-to-day basis, with the iLoad’s mix of flexibility and refinement sending it up toward the head of the class.
The engine and gearbox are beautifully paired too, and they make driving the iLoad enjoyable in the real world, rather than just a work vehicle you begrudgingly have to put up with. The engine is punchy enough for the job at hand, and even when you weigh the iLoad down it still gets up to speed sharply. We completed an extended highway run as well, and the iLoad is comfortable if you need to do that too.
The Hyundai iLoad is covered by a five-year/160,000km warranty with servicing required every 12 months, and costs $356 for the first three and fifth visits to the service centre, while the fourth will set you back $506. It's also a four-star ANCAP rated vehicle, not quite making it to the full five-star rating.
The iLoad, like the Renault Trafic we tested not long ago, begs the question as to why you would blindly rush out to buy a Toyota HiAce. Sure, the HiAce has its strong points, but the iLoad is a more than worthy contender with its array of standard kit and excellent driving dynamics.
Would we recommend the Hyundai iLoad? Absolutely. I loved driving it, and the drivetrain is especially enjoyable when you spend bulk time behind the wheel. It loves working for a living too, which is exactly what it needs to do for buyers looking to get the most out of their commercial investment. Take the iLoad for a test drive if you are in the market for a new work van.