2021 Hyundai Staria Highlander review: long-term update 3, off-road driving and manners

Our long-term Hyundai Staria test car has four-wheel drive, so we’ll go off-road to see how this mover handles the rough stuff.





  • Cavernous and expandable cargo area
  • Average fuel consumption in the mid-8th century
  • Sides are easy to clean because they are flat
  • Impossible to clean the roof unless you have go-go gadget arms
  • So much carpet to clean too
  • Ground clearance and AWD system not really for off-road driving

Now, let’s get stuck on chapter three. As promised we took the Hyundai Staria 8 seater people mover off road to explore its lifestyle abilities and off road skills. Then I had to wash the Hyundai Staria, and I can tell you that I have never washed such a big car.

I can also tell you that if the roof was dirty before washing, it is still dirty now. I just can’t get to it. Hopefully the semi-regular rainy days in Melbourne will take care of the roof, but if they don’t then it won’t be as much as many other road users can see my dirty secret. Truckies maybe, and pedestrians on overpasses.



So, how did the all-wheel-drive Staria go off-road, I hear no one ask? Absolutely fine but it wasn’t like we tackled the Canning Stock route. We went out to Lerderderg . State Park about 35 minutes west of Melbourne near Bacchus Marsh. There is a great walking trail that starts at Mackenzies Flat and goes to Grahams Dam which takes about an hour.

But if you take two young guys like us, it takes a lot longer… Possibly. I don’t know as an unusually sunny winter day turned rainy and wet shortly after we arrived. So all we did was teach my two year old how to skip rocks in the Lerdderg River.

Then we went back to Camerons Road and followed it north, deeper into the park. The bitumen road quickly changes to unpaved but it is tarmac and well maintained so wouldn’t challenge a Corolla.



We turned into a chopped siding to see the Staria’s on-demand four-wheel drive system handle itself on rougher terrain, and it just felt weird. Really weird. Not because the car did something wrong. The Staria did a fine job, driving the ruts with the poor wheel articulation and ground clearance it had, and the four-wheel drive system did the job, shuffling drive to the rear wheels when the front wheels started to slip.

What felt odd was to see such a big, boxy, tall van in the bush on an off-road track. It’s like seeing Kim Kardashian at a wrestling match or John Howard bowling a cricket ball. It just doesn’t look right.

In all fairness, the Staria’s limited ground clearance and long wheelbase, and light all-wheel drive system, aren’t really designed for off-road use. This van is absolutely capable of driving forest trails to your favorite bushwalking or mountain biking route, as long as the grader keeps things level and firm. If your idea of ​​a dirty weekend involves something a little more strenuous, a good SUV or 4WD is what you need.



But for a family of four eager to get out and about after three weeks of Covid-positive lockdown – it went through all of us, but at least now we’re on the other side – a quick breath of fresh air was just what we needed.

On the drive back I noticed how attentive the Staria is. This is a very caring van.

For example, as we drove into the CityLink tunnel, the Staria informed me that it had closed the external vents and turned the AC on recirculation to keep those pesky fumes out of our lungs.

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When we got home, it reminded me to check the back seat because it could see there was something heavy in there. However, we knew this because the boys have discovered the joy of torturing us parents by incessantly babbling nonsense words.

It also reminded me to take my phone off the charging mat, which I am grateful for as I left it there before.

As the day turns to dusk, the Staria automatically changes the color schemes of the screens from bright white to softer black. It’s not the only car to do this, but it’s still a nice touch.

I’ve also found that the Staria automatically turns on the heated seats and steering wheel heating when I start the car on cold mornings. Another handy feature that you just know you need.

Key details 2021 Hyundai Staria Highlander 2.2D AWD
Engine configuration Four-cylinder turbo diesel
Displacement 2.2 liter (2199cc)
Current 130 kW at 3800 rpm
Couple 430 Nm at 1500-3800 rpm
Transfer Eight-speed torque converter automatic
Drive type Four wheel drive
Weight (curb) 2325kg
Power to weight ratio 55.9 kW/t
Estimated range 915km
Sales category people mover
Main Competitors Kia CarnivalHonda OdysseyVolkswagen Caravelle

The latter is a mixed blessing as the Staria’s wheel has an alloy covering that doesn’t heat up, and the contrast between toasted leather and icy alloy is stark if your hand accidentally wanders on the latter.

Another handy feature is the automatically closing tailgate. It has sensors behind it to tell you when you’re done charging and get off it, then it beeps three times and closes on its own.



All this will make the next update bittersweet. Our six months with the Staria are coming to an end. But before then I have to take the family back from Geelong to Melbourne. Last month we put our house on the market and moved into a family friend’s empty house so the real estate team would have unrestricted access for the duration of the campaign.

Also, we didn’t have to go through the formidable task of cleaning the house twice a week after the boys spent the intervening days recreating the world’s biggest mess.

Now the campaign is over and it’s time to go back home. The house didn’t sell because we were unlucky to time our campaign with the Reserve Bank’s decision to raise interest rates to the moon (relatively speaking), pouring icy water over a once-hot real estate market.

Fuel consumption Fuel Statistics
Fuel cons. (claimed) 8.2L/100km
Fuel cons. (on trial) 8.3L/100km
Fuel type Diesel
Fuel Tank Size 75L

Driving from Geelong to the office three times a week has increased the mileage and slightly reduced the average fuel consumption. We now show a general average of 8.3L/100km† Not bad for a two-ton truck that can carry eight.

So one more mega load of life junk and the Staria goes goodbye. Will I miss it? Find out next month.



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Glenn Butler is one of Australia’s best-known motoring journalists who has covered cars on radio, TV, internet and print for the past 25 years. He is a former editor of Wheels, Australia’s most respected automotive magazine, and before that he was deputy editor of Drive.com.au. Glenn’s has also worked at the executive level for two of Australia’s leading car companies, so he understands the care and attention that goes into designing and developing new cars. As a journalist, he has driven everything from Ferraris to Fiats on every continent except Antarctica (which he hopes to achieve one day) and loves to discover the unique personality and strengths of each car. Glenn knows that the price of a car is no indication of his prowess, and even the cheapest car can improve your life and broaden your horizons.

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