Car Reviews

2019 Hyundai iMax Elite Review

Toby Hagon’s 2019 Hyundai iMax Elite Review With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict And Score.

In a nutshell: New grille and the addition of an Elite luxury model doesn’t change the ageing core of the Hyundai iMax eight-seater best suited to adults rather than young families.

2019 Hyundai iMax Elite Specifications

Price $48,490+ORC Warranty 5 years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months, 15,000km Safety 4-star ANCAP rating (from 2009) Engine 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Power 125kW at 3600rpm Torque 441Nm at 2000-2250rpm Transmission 5-speed auto Drive Rear-wheel drive Dimensions 1550mm (L), 1920mm (W), 1925mm (H), 3200mm (WB) Kerb Weight 2230kg Towing 1500kg Towball Download 75kg GVM 3030kg GCM 4530kg Boot Space 842L Spare Full size Fuel Tank 75L Thirst 8.8L/100km claimed combined

Comprehensive Car Insurance

Hyundai’s eight-seat iMax people mover has been soldiering on for more than a decade, but in 2018 it was given a spruce-up to keep it looking fresh in a busy market.

The key changes are a new grille and revised colours as well as more equipment to increase the value proposition. Nothing has changed beneath the skin, but the iMax still dishes up plenty of space for those who need to move lots of people.

2019 Hyundai iMax Elite Review by Practical Motoring

What’s in the range and how much does it cost?

The iMax used to be available with a choice of petrol or diesel power. These days only the diesel remains hooked up to the same five-speed auto that was previously optional.

Pricing starts at $43,990+ORC for the Active and for that you get 16-inch alloy wheels, auto headlights and a 7.0-inch centre touchscreen incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s hardy cloth trim on the seats, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and a trip computer.

For $48,990+ORC there’s the Elite that picks up 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seats with ventilation for the driver’s seat, heated front seats, two sunroofs, self-dimming centre rear vision mirror and a cooled glovebox. There’s also a chrome grille and two-tone exterior paint.

What’s the interior and practicality like?

In a word, big. While it has extra seats, the iMax uses the basic shell of a commercial van, the iLoad. That iLoad is popular with couriers and small business operators who need to carry plenty, and that space translates directly to the iMax.

2019 Hyundai iMax Elite Review by Practical Motoring

It doesn’t matter which seat you choose you’ll be blessed with generous head- and legroom, ensuring it’s a great choice for eight adults. There is one exception to that – and it involves taller drivers. The Elite’s sunroof eats into front headroom slightly, and with the very high driver’s seat it can have heads grazing the headlining. Given the chunky seat base it would seem an easy fix to allow it to be lowered further.

Best leave the rear-most road to the narrower passengers, too, because even with the middle row seat slid and tilted forward it’s a narrow opening to squeeze through.

There’s also an enormous 842-litre boot, provided you’re prepared to pack luggage up to the roof.

Just make sure you don’t park too close to walls or poles at the back, because the enormous tailgate simply won’t have the space to swing up; at least it acts as a generous sun or rain shade when you’re loading or unloading.

The sliding rear doors also make it easy to get in and out without worrying about banging them on walls or vehicles parked alongside.

The lack of a centre console means fewer hidey holes for things such as phones, wallets and purses, although there are two gloveboxes to partially make up. There’s also a small binnacle on top of the dash, although exposure to the sun makes it less useful for electronics.

Those in the middle miss out on the cupholders and side pods in the third row, but at least there are air vents to all three rows, at least partially accounting for the side glass that pops out rather than rolls down.

2019 Hyundai iMax Elite Review by Practical Motoring

The iMax is less convincing as a family car, at least for those with kids under the age of eight. That’s because there are no child seat anchor points in the third row, so any child seats need to go in the middle row, which is seriously limiting when it comes to accessing the third row.

The seats themselves also have limited functionality, unable to be folded flat, with a mild tilt the best they can do.

So, if you’re light on for kids but want to carry chunky items such as surfboards or push bikes it’s less useful than your average SUV or people mover.

What are the controls and infotainment like?

It’s standard stuff in the iMax with lots of logical grey buttons getting you through the main functions of the infotainment system, which is displayed on a 7.0-inch touchscreen. There’s also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for easy (and legal!) operation of a smartphone on the run.

2019 Hyundai iMax Elite Review by Practical Motoring

Steering wheel buttons allow major functions to be adjusted without removing your hands.

Best to familiarise with the roof-mounted buttons for the sunroofs and lights, though, to save not opening or illuminating something you weren’t planning on.

Perhaps no surprise that the six-speaker sound system is thin and tinny, unable to deliver on bass and clarity if you’re into your music. It’s better at talkback and podcasts than the Top 40.

The lack of a centre console means you’ll find more on the dashboard than you usually might expect, although a traditional handbrake resides between the two seats, nestled closer to the driver to still allow an easy walk-through to the rear.

2019 Hyundai iMax Elite Review by Practical Motoring

Two dials looks after the fan speed and temperature of the ventilation system up front. Those in the rear also have their own ventilation controls, able to adjust the temperature and fan speed.

But there’s one very handy function: if the kids get silly with the controls you can cancel them from the front seat and retake control of what air is going where. It’s a simple addition but one many families will learn to appreciate.

What’s the performance like?

The 2.5-litre diesel engine is honest if unexciting. There’s a modest 125kW and a more meaningful 441Nm, the latter peak torque figure arriving low in the rev range for grunty response.

It’s fairly gruff in the way it goes about its business, but it gets the job done effectively, all the while barely fazed by another few bodies on board. Refinement is the engine’s weak point, some associated vibration and vocality a constant reminder it’s working.

There’s only a five-speed automatic, which is below the six ratios-plus most vehicles have these days.

But the flexibility of the engine means it’s not really missed, the generous mid-rev performance taking over. It helps the selected ratios are focused on cruising speeds up to 100km/h, negating any requirements for high speed touring gears, as is often the case in European vehicles designed to regularly travel at 130km/h and above.

Average fuel use is claimed at 8.8 litres per 100km, although around town it’s easy to scrape into the low teens if you’re stopping and starting a lot.

What’s it like on the road?

Like the engine, the iMax’s dynamics are honest and uninspiring. Blame that on its commercial vehicle routes, which stipulate it needs to carry heavy loads.

Drive is sent to the rear wheels, although the iMax is definitely no sports car. It’s more old school thinking than anything trying to up the excitement factor. Like the engine, there’s a degree of noise emanating from the tyres at speed, something that breaks the otherwise acceptable ambience of the cabin.

Steering is light and responsive, although you’re never in any doubt it’s a commercial vehicle underneath. There’s a decent chunk of weight up high and the body starts to lean when you up the pace in corners.

2019 Hyundai iMax Elite Review by Practical Motoring

The suspension is relatively firm when unladen, although more compliance kicks in as you increase what you’re carrying. Either way, it disposes of speed humps and other imperfections with a solid, reassuring thud, a subtle reminder of what’s going on at ground level.

There are also limits to its ability, in part due to the Nexen Roadian tyres, which lack grip on a wet road. It can make for some early intervention from the traction control out of intersections or in roundabouts if you’re too eager with the throttle.

2019 Hyundai iMax Elite Review by Practical Motoring

There is the occasional surprise and delight. The turning circle, for example, is excellent, able to swing the nose around tight, something that also helps with parking.

For such a sizeable bus vision is also respectable, in part because of the high seating position.

Does it have a spare?

There’s a full-sized spare tyre under the tail of the iMax; for the Active it’s mounted on a steel wheel, while the Elite gets a matching alloy as used on the rest of the car.

Can you tow with it?

The iMax is rated to tow 1500kg, although it’s limited in its rated towball download to 75kg. So, it’s more for small vans/boats or box trailers than anything too full-on. However, impressively it can tow that full 1.5 tonnes even with up to 800kg of people and luggage on board.

What about ownership?

Like all Hyundais, the iMax is covered by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. It also includes what Hyundai calls a lifetime service plan, or capped price servicing for the life of the vehicle.

Servicing for the iMax is due every 12 months or 15,000km. Most services are $361, although the four-year, 60,000km service jumps to $541. You can also pre-pay for servicing, with the first five years or 75,000km costing $1958. However, as it’s only a $27 saving off the individual service prices it’s not a massive incentive to stump up that much money early on.

2019 Hyundai iMax Elite Review by Practical Motoring

What safety features does it have?

There’s only a basic level of safety in the iMax, not helped because it was derived from a commercial van. As required by local regulations, it gets anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control, each helping to control a skid and make it easier to avoid a crash.

But airbag protection is only provided in the front seats; there are dual frontal airbags and side protection airbags. But up to six occupants in the rear have no airbag protection, leaving them potentially exposed in a side impact.

That said, the iMax gets a four-star ANCAP rating. However, it’s a rating awarded in 2009 when the ANCAP requirements were nowhere near as stringent as they are today.

Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior and practicality?
How do we rate the infotainment and controls?
How do we rate the performance?
How do we rate the ride and handling?
How do we rate the safety?
Practical Motoring Says The iMax is built for a purpose and if that purpose involves regularly carrying lots of adults then you’re in luck. If you’re loading it up with big people regularly the iMax packs a fair bit in for the money – mainly space. It’ll carry adults in relative comfort, while still allowing room for plenty of luggage. For airport transfers and the like it’d be a useful machine. But it’s a bit of a one-trick pony, its van roots regularly on display. It lacks the flexibility and functionality of many purpose-built people movers that have more thoughtfulness for families. The lack of folding functions in the rear seats is a prime example. The iMax is also less convincing for young families, where the lack of tether points in the third row and that seating flexibility restricts placement of smaller kids. Sub-standard safety is also not ideal.

Toby Hagon

Toby Hagon

From Porsches to LandCruisers, Toby Hagon loves all things cars and has been writing about them for more than 20 years. He loves the passion and people that help create one of the world's most innovative and interesting industries. As well as road testing and chasing news he more recently co-authored a book on Holden. These days he crosses the world covering the industry but still loves taking off on the Big Trip in Australia.