Max head­room AT A GLANCE

Big fam­i­lies get the best out of Hyundai’s van­based mover

The Advertiser - Motoring - - USED CAR HYUNDAI IMAX -

NEW

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. HYUNDAI iMAX 2008-14 PRICE NEW $36,990-$39,990 NOW $10,500-$20,500, diesel $12,000-$30,000 SAFETY 4 stars EN­GINE 2.4-litre 4-cyl, 129kW/228Nm; 2.5-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 125kW/392Nm TRANS­MIS­SION 4-speed auto, 5-speed man, 5-speed auto; RWD THIRST 8.5-10.6L/100km

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.

NOW

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.

OWN­ERS SAY

I love my iMax. It has ex­cel­lent cabin space for eight plus luggage and feels like a car to drive. Eric Scott 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. So­phie El­lis The space is great and it goes well. My only com­plaint is the driver’s seat, which I find un­com­fort­able. Re­nae Car­ring­ton 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.

SMITHY SAYS

It’s big but it’s a beauty if you’ve got a large fam­ily to shift.

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