The Hyundai iLoad is Australia’s second-best-selling delivery van. The number-two spot isn’t normally something to boast about, but in this case it’s noteworthy when you consider the strength of the competition from Japan and Europe.
The Hyundai iLoad has had a remarkable run since it went on sale locally in 2008 and, it turns out, played a key role in establishing the credibility and trustworthiness of the emerging South Korean brand.
Although the Hyundai iLoad is overdue for replacement with an all-new model – even taking into account the lengthy life cycles of vans – it is holding its age well thanks to numerous updates along the way.
The Hyundai iLoad has secured the number-two spot on the van sales charts for 10 of the past 11 years. The surprise anomaly: the Hyundai iLoad was the top-selling van in Australia in 2011 after knocking off the perennial favourite, the Toyota HiAce.
For most of the past decade, the Toyota HiAce has topped the van sales charts with a comfortable margin over the Hyundai iLoad, which in turn has managed to stay ahead of the Volkswagen Transporter and, more recently, the new-generation Ford Transit Custom.
With end-of-financial-year bargains around the corner – June is historically the biggest month of the year for commercial vehicle sales – we figured it would be a good idea to get reacquainted with the Hyundai iLoad, especially as the competition is starting to heat up.
A new-generation Toyota HiAce went on sale last year, an updated Volkswagen Transporter is imminent, the Ford Transit Custom has had some recent tech upgrades, the Renault Trafic has finally added an automatic model, and is soon to be joined by the Mitsubishi Express, thanks to the joint venture between those two brands.
In other words, if you’re in the market for a van, you’re spoiled for choice.
The Hyundai iLoad currently starts from $39,290 plus on-roads for the six-speed manual or $42,710 plus on-road costs for the five-speed auto – an unusually high $3420 premium.
As this article was published, the Hyundai iLoad was priced on the manufacturer’s website from $41,380 drive-away (manual) or $44,410 drive-away (auto). This puts the Hyundai iLoad at the more affordable end of the van market; however, a diesel auto has previously limboed to $41,790 drive-away, in mid 2018.
The 2.5-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder is the same as it has been since 2008; the petrol option was dropped mid-2018.
The Hyundai iLoad diesel manual has an output of 100kW/343Nm, while the auto version has an output of 125kW/441Nm. Both engines meet Euro V emissions, so there are no AdBlue top-ups to worry about.
Standard equipment includes air-conditioning, remote central locking, cruise control (auto only), height- and reach-adjustable steering, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, AM/FM radio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto embedded in the 7.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and one USB charging port and one 12V power socket.
It has power windows, though they are not one-touch auto up (only one-touch auto down for the driver), there is no digital speed display, and no three-flash half-touch indicators.
Sliding doors on both sides of the Hyundai iLoad are standard (sliding doors with windows are available as an option for the delivery van, but are standard on the six-seater crew cab).
Sliding doors with windows are available as a factory option on the Ford Transit Custom and Volkswagen Transporter, while the Toyota HiAce comes standard with a window on the sliding door on the passenger side of the vehicle.
The most popular type of rear door on the Hyundai iLoad is a liftback tailgate, but twin swing or 'barn doors' are available as an option.
On the safety front, the Hyundai iLoad is equipped with four airbags (two front and two seat-mounted side airbags), stability control, a rear camera and sensors, and dusk-sensing headlights.
The Hyundai iLoad has a four-star crash safety rating from 2011, scoring a relatively poor 9.81 out of 16 in the crucial offset front crash test into a barrier at 64km/h. If the Hyundai iLoad were assessed to today’s more stringent standards, it would likely not achieve even a four-star rating.
Newer rivals such as the new Toyota HiAce, Ford Transit Custom and most of the Volkswagen Transporter range – which have more recent five-star ratings – have advanced safety aids such as autonomous emergency braking.The Toyota and Ford vans also have speed sign recognition and blind-zone warning, which the Hyundai iLoad lacks.
Given the amount of time spent and kilometres covered by vans on our roads, it’s remarkable more has not been done to address the Hyundai iLoad’s safety deficits at the same time as other upgrades.
The Hyundai iLoad went from two to four airbags in early 2016, gained Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mid 2016, and the facelift you see here (a new nose from the windscreen forward) arrived in May 2018.
The rest of the Hyundai iLoad’s shape has not changed since 2008.
Key dimensions such as cargo floor length (2375mm), cargo floor width (1620mm), cargo area height (1340mm), and the distance between the wheel arches on the back floor (1272mm) are unchanged from before – handy if you’re moving equipment from an older Hyundai iLoad to a new one.
However, the Hyundai iLoad remains slightly smaller than its closest rivals.
The Toyota HiAce: cargo floor length (2530mm), cargo floor width (1760mm), cargo area height (1340mm), and the distance between the wheel arches on the back floor (1268mm).
The Ford Transit Custom 340S: cargo floor length (2554mm), cargo floor width (1775mm), cargo area height (1406mm), and the distance between the wheel arches on the back floor (1392mm).
The Volkswagen Transporter: cargo floor length (2572mm), cargo floor width (1700mm), cargo area height (1410mm), and the distance between the wheel arches on the back floor (1244mm).
There may be an advantage in being slightly smaller. The Hyundai iLoad (overall length 5150mm) will fit into a tighter parking spot than a Toyota HiAce (5265mm); however, the Ford Transit Custom (4973mm) and Volkswagen Transporter (4890mm) are more space-efficient when you compare their overall length with their cargo capacity.
There’s a little more breathing room in multi-level car parks in a Hyundai iLoad. The Hyundai iLoad’s height (not including roof-racks or the radio antenna) is listed at 1935mm versus the Toyota HiAce (1990mm), Ford Transit Custom (2020mm), and Volkswagen Transporter (1990mm).
The Hyundai iLoad’s towing capacity remains unchanged (2000kg for the manual and 1500kg for the auto), which is on par with the Toyota HiAce (1900kg manual and 1500kg auto).
However, the Ford Transit Custom (2500kg manual and 2000kg auto), and Volkswagen Transporter (2500kg manual or auto) can haul more weight.
The turning circle on the Hyundai iLoad is good by class standards (11.2m) versus the Toyota HiAce (11.0m), Ford Transit Custom (11.6m) and Volkswagen Transporter (11.9m).
As with the Hyundai iLoad’s main rivals listed above, there is a full-size spare wheel and tyre (215/70R16) located under the rear cargo floor.
The Hyundai iLoad warranty is five years/160,000km, rather than five years/unlimited on the Hyundai passenger car range.
By comparison, the warranty on a Toyota HiAce is five years/160,000km, while the Ford Transit and Volkswagen Transporter both have five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranties.
Service intervals on the Hyundai iLoad are 15,000km/12 months, whichever comes first.
There are three pre-paid capped-price servicing packages available for routine maintenance: three years/45,000km $1083, four years/60,000km $1597, and five years/75,000km $1958, though opting for post-paid servicing incurs no price penalty.
On the road
The Hyundai iLoad is holding its age well. It's a basic van that can get the job done, albeit with a few notable exceptions.
It comes standard with a three-seater cabin (the centre seat back can be stowed or used to squeeze in an extra person). When not being used as a middle seat, the centre seat back folds down to reveal a storage tray and two cupholders. There is excellent storage in the doors (two massive pockets in each) as well as two large gloveboxes.
The instruments are clear and easy to read (though a digital speed display would be welcome) and the infotainment screen is straightforward to use.
Visibility is good thanks to the wide-view side mirrors, and parking is made easier thanks to a rear camera and sensors.
As with all vans, the Hyundai iLoad is noisy when empty; however, it comes standard with a large vinyl covering on the cargo floor that muted some of the road noise. There are 10 tie-down hooks to secure loads.
The steering is direct, light and precise, and the driving position is comfortable thanks to the height and reach adjustment in the steering wheel and the height adjustment in the seat.
These may be of minor concern to potential buyers, but we noted on the test that the Hyundai iLoad lacks a vanity mirror behind the sun visor, the sun visor swings to the side but doesn’t extend to block all side glare, the driver’s window lacks one-touch auto-up functionality, and the indicators lack the half-touch, three-flash function of more modern vehicles.And it lacks advanced safety aids that are quickly becoming the norm.
None of these omissions, however, affect the way the Hyundai iLoad drives. The engine is still perky, and is well matched to the five-speed auto (which sends drive to the rear wheels). Unfortunately, we didn’t have an opportunity to test it while loaded.
The fuel economy rating label says the Hyundai iLoad is capable of returning an average economy consumption of 8.8L/100km, but this would vary dramatically with cargo on board and in stop-start city driving.
With an empty cargo hold and driving in light traffic conditions and a mix of 80–100km/h zones, we saw fuel consumption range from 9 –11L/100km, which we reckon is fair to average for the vehicle type; however, some of the European vans can dip below this.
The Hyundai iLoad feels secure in corners (for a van), but it’s worth noting we only tested it in dry weather conditions.Previous experience has shown us the standard Nexen tyres lack grip in rainy conditions (even by wet-weather standards) and we would recommend switching to another type of tyre once these wear out.
The brake pedal feels precise and the Hyundai iLoad has adequate stopping power; however, we did not test it with a load on board.
The Hyundai iLoad will get the job done and still drives well given its age. However, it has an old four-star crash rating, lacks advanced safety tech, and would benefit from a few extra creature comforts that are becoming the norm these days, even in the van market.