HYUNDAI has been one of the star performers on the sales charts in recent years, with its iMax people mover and iLoad commercial van helping contribute to those numbers. The latter now sports a fresh frontal treatment and some added interior features.
Having recently tested the new Toyota HiAce range, and the Ford Transit, it was good to reacquaint ourselves with the iLoad, a van we have always liked for its robust construction, good performance and its terrific handling.
The secret with the iLoad has always been good weight balance and design, ensuring it handles and performs well, whether it’s unloaded, or with its full tonne or more of payload.
The new offering is still powered by the same 125kW/441Nm 2.5-litre turbo diesel, mated to a 5-speed auto transmission. It could do with a more modern automatic gearbox with six or seven gears, but the old one still has a good spread of ratios and works fine.
Fuel economy and performance could be greatly enhanced with an upgrade though. The irony is that the standard gearbox in the iLoad is actually a 6-speed manual, so why not more cogs for the auto.
Apart from that, the updated model features a number of changes, include a new grille, along with a new tilt and reach adjustable steering wheel, a new instrument cluster design with a trip computer readout, and automatic light-sensing headlights.
The most obvious update in the middle of the dash is the new infotainment system, which uses a 7.0-inch touchscreen interfaced with Bluetooth connectivity and the largely obligatory Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The system also boasts a rear-view camera but only on models such as the one we tested, with a lift up tailgate (as opposed to the barn door models, which is something to do with camera positioning).
But wait there’s more. You get a free set of steak knives. Actually you don’t, but you do get power windows with single press, automatic up and down, along with a new a height adjustable driver’s seat and cruise control on automatic models.
Like the HiAce, the iLoad is rear-wheel drive and that is a major reason why it is such a strong workhorse, with such a useful payload and performance when fully loaded. Put simply, the iLoad is a simple layout done extremely well.
The front suspension in this semi-bonneted van is handled by the well proven and extremely reliable, MacPherson struts and steering is power assisted rack and pinion, for very positive and well managed response.
At the rear are traditional leaf springs, and that certainly helps with the load carrying and good manners when the weights are near the limit, while disc brakes all around ensure really good stopping power.
The engine is impressive and likeable, with its performance bolstered by the variable vane turbocharger and common rail fuel injection. The upshot is that it delivers strong flexible pulling power just as a workhorse should. You can even shift the auto manually if needed.
Economy wise, we were regularly seeing averages of around 9.0-litres/100km in city operations. It’s pretty close to Hyundai’s claimed 8.8-litres/100km. The iLoad is equipped with a 75 litre tank, which should be good for around 830km on a single tank.
The Hyundai van boasts sliding doors on each side of the cargo area as standard, while in our test version the rear entry had the lift up tailgate, rather than the optional twin barn doors. The test van was also fitted with a steel mesh cargo safety screen.
The iLoad has a total of ten tie down points to help secure loads for added safety and security, with a cargo area that measures 2375mm long, 1620mm wide and 1340mm high, which means the load area adds up to about 4.4 cubic metres.
That’s pretty impressive, as is the fact that the width between the rear wheel arches is 1272mm, meaning that the iLoad can take a standard Australian pallet between the housings.
Despite the fact that the iLoad doesn’t have roof lining, its full length rubber floor covering and some side insulation means that there is not too much drumming or vibration while driving, negating the bane of many a van driver.
Getting down to basic numbers in terms of load, the iLoad has a kerb weight of 2062kg and with its 1098kg payload gives it a 3160kg Gross Vehicle Mass or GVM. To this you can add up to 1500kg of braked trailer load.
They are pretty impressive numbers, and are again a reason why the Hyundai van is such a popular commercial choice. It also has a great 11.22 metre turning circle, which means the iLoad is easily turned in narrow streets and parking lots.
Inside, the driver cockpit is a comfortable and nicely finished area with cloth trim on the driver’s seat and the twin passenger seats on the left. Conveniently, the somewhat cramped middle seat back does fold down to provide a drink holder and storage tray.
There are a plethora of storage nooks and crannies around the cab too, with solid pockets low down on each door, along with a convenient bottle holder on each side. In the centre of the dash there is a tray on the top pad, along with two separate gloveboxes.
An additional pocket can also be found near the gearshift that is good for small nick-nacks like pens and sunglasses. Just below that there is a pop-out double cup holder which is convenient and well placed.
The dash and instrumentation is well laid out and easy to read, with a large speedo in the middle, flanked by a tacho on the left and a split fuel and temp gauge on the right. Underneath that is a tiny screen for the trip computer, offering a range of information.
Overall there is very good vision all around with clear lines of sight forward and through the side windows, and rearward through the large single window in the tailgate. The 2020 Hyundai iLoad in its tested form is priced at $41,790 (plus on-roads).
This compares well with the slightly more expensive Toyota HiAce and Ford’s Transit Custom. It has a 4-star ANCAP safety rating, as it misses some key safety features. Hyundai will need to address the need for autonomous emergency braking soon.
With fleet buyers seeking out blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist and other techno driver safety aids, it’s certainly something that’s timely for them to review.
There are however, front and side airbags for the driver and outer passenger seats in the iLoad, but it’s the centre seat passenger who will be living dangerously, thanks to its low tech lap only seat belt and no airbags.
Hyundai offers a 5-year 160,000km warranty, with a lifetime service plan and capped price servicing. We like the iLoad. It’s an endearing work horse and while it has some foibles, it’s still very competitive in terms of price and performance.
Our test vehicle was provided by Hyundai Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Hyundai iLoad, contact your local Hyundai dealer.