Big families get the best out of Hyundai’s vanbased mover
Hyundai’s iMax people-mover is not the prettiest vehicle around but its beauty lies in its capacity to haul a tribe.
The big box on wheels arrived in 2008 as part of a range that included commercial vans. In earlier times it might have been derided for being related to a van. Not the iMax, which was safe, comfortable and economical, so well-suited to a big family.
Make no mistake the iMax was big and, with its boxlike shape, there was no hiding its relationship to the iLoad vans.
That shape made it what it was — inside it was cavernous, able to accommodate up to eight in three rows of flexible seating, and still have lots of room left over for whatever the occupants wanted to take.
Getting in and out of the iMax was a breeze with big sliding doors on each side for easy access to the rear seats, and there was a large lift-up tailgate to get at the luggage area.
Inside, it had a walk-through facility that allowed you to move from the front seats to the centre row, which could be slid back and forth, and the rear seat split-folded 60-40.
It was also quite well kitted out, with airconditioning, power features and numerous cup holders and door pockets among many useful items.
There was just the one model, in which the controls were well placed for easy use, and the high seating position gave a good view of the road.
Importantly with a vehicle like the iMax, the mirrors gave the driver good vision to the sides and rear, and rear sensors aided parking.
Its 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 124kW gave admirable performance for such a large vehicle and the 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel counterpart was the economy pick.
The transmission with the 2.4 was a four-speed auto but the diesel turned a more useful five-speed auto. Diesel buyers could also order a five-speed manual but few did.
On the road the iMax was easy to drive, it handled and braked well — and seemed to shrink the more you drove it and became accustomed to its bulk.
Most iMax owners say they are happy with their vehicles. All we spoke to had large families, and they were unanimous in their praise of the cabin space and many were surprised at the performance and handling of such a big vehicle.
It’s not all good news, however, as the diesel engine is prone to problems with the turbocharger that can lead to an expensive engine meltdown.
There are also reports of intermittent electrical problems plaguing some cars. They’re hard for mechanics to track down and fix and can prove frustrating to owners of affected vehicles.
Scheduled servicing is every 12 months/15,000km. Sticking to the schedule is really important with the diesels given the potential turbo issues.
Changing the oil as recommended is the most important thing you can do to keep your car in good health and it’s even more crucial with the diesel iMax.
If you find some services have been delayed or skipped altogether, walk away, it’s not worth the risk of taking on a vehicle that has been neglected.
Most people chose the automatic transmission, so you won’t find many manuals out there on the market.
If you are considering a manual be aware that the clutch life isn’t great and that you could be facing a replacement at 75,000km intervals.
Petrol examples were recalled in 2010 for a problem with the throttle cable that could affect the driveability.
Other faults that have been cause for rework are brake lights that stop working, excessive play in the steering and leaks from the rear washer reservoir.
Check with a Hyundai dealer to see whether the vehicle is affected and make sure the work has been done.
I love my iMax. It has excellent cabin space for eight plus luggage and feels like a car to drive.
I use my iMax as a mobile office, mostly in city traffic, and it’s great. It drives well, is easy to manoeuvre, comfortable and cheap to run. I’ve had no problems with it.
The space is great and it goes well. My only complaint is the driver’s seat, which I find uncomfortable.
Our iMax has given us great service over five years. It’s done 150,000km and we’re very happy with it. I like the power and the economy; our only problem has been a failed airconditioning compressor, which was replaced under warranty.
It’s big but it’s a beauty if you’ve got a large family to shift.