The Hyundai Staria was launched in Malaysia in October 2021. Have you see one on the road? Very few can say yes to that, but it’s meant to be.

The Staria made its debut in seven-seat range-topping Premium form, and it was priced at RM368,888 with the extended warranty and service package. With that price, the positioning and those Premium Relaxation seats, the Staria Premium is clearly aiming for a different crowd than the Grand Starex.

Now, we have the Hyundai Staria 10-seater here in Malaysia, launched by Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) this morning in 1 Utama. This 10-seat version of the Staria is the true replacement for the Grand Starex, which can finally retire. A people carrier designed for big families and businesses, prices start from RM179,888 on-the road without insurance, which is nearly half of the Premium’s RRP.

Three variants of the Staria 10-seater are available. The entry-level Lite starts at the above-mentioned headline price, but these days, HSDM prices its cars in BMW fashion, which means that the base price comes with a two-year/50,000 km warranty. If you want the five-year/300,000 km warranty plus three-year/50,000 km free service, add RM10,000 to the price. That’s RM189,999 for most people then.

The mid-spec Plus is yours for RM196,888 and the range-topping Max is priced at RM209,888. Go for the “extended” warranty and service package and it will be RM206,888 and RM219,888 respectively.

The Starex is one of the largest passenger vehicles on our roads, but the Staria dwarfs it. At 5,253 mm long, 1,997 mm wide and 1,990 mm tall, the Staria is 103 mm longer, 77 mm wider and 55 mm taller than the Starex, and its 3,273 mm wheelbase is 73 mm longer than the old van. Both the Premium and this 10-seater share the same body. The Lite and Plus ride on 17-inch alloys (215/65 tyres) while Max tyres are sized like the Premium – 235/55 – with star-shaped two-tone 18-inch rims. Spot the subtle bodykit? It’s standard on all three variants, exclusive to the 10-seater.

HSDM says that the Staria’s height allows for passengers to conveniently enter and exit the vehicle and is high enough for an average school-aged child to stand upright and move inside the vehicle with ease. The 10-seater’s seat layout is 2-3-2-3, and maximum loading capacity is 1,024 litres with the seats folded flat. All three rows of rear seats can be folded flat, and when this is done, you can fit in a bed for camping, as illustrated below. By the way, this is not possible in the 7-seater, as the individual Premium Relaxation chairs can’t be folded.

Face aside, one of the biggest design points that make the Staria stand out is the super low beltline, which gives the MPV some of the biggest window panels I’ve ever seen on a passenger vehicle. Hyundai says that this is inspired by traditional Korean hanok architecture and “creates a feeling of openness”. That’s an understatement – this could well be the best vehicle to be sightseeing in.

The LED headlamps are matched by the unique tetris-style pixel tail lamps on all variants except for the Lite, although the Lite’s bulbs are very well disguised with a pixel-patterned cover. LED daytime running lights are standard across the board.

Roof air con vents for all rows are standard across the range, while Plus and Max variants get power sliding doors. The Max adds on a powered tailgate. The seats of the Lite are in fabric, while the Plus gets part-Nappa leather seats. It’s black Nappa leather for the Max variant, which is the the only one here to get a powered driver seat (eight-way adjustment with four-way lumbar).

Up front, the driver looks at a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster (analogue dials with LCD MID for Lite), and the head unit touchscreen is an 8.0-inch item with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and steering buttons. The Max adds on a 360-degree parking camera, two additional tweeters (six speakers in total), dual-zone air con and a wireless charger. Speaking of charging, this big van has eight USB ports, seven of which are for charging.

The button gear selector in the Premium has been swapped for a regular shift lever, but all 10-seater variants get an electronic parking brake with auto hold, which is nice.

Safety wise, it’s six airbags across the board, along with ABS/EBD/ESC/VSM/TCS and hill start assist. Isofix child seat anchors are available on the second row (two outer seats). Hyundai Smartsense is reserved for the Max. The active safety and driver assist suite includes Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist with Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist and Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go.

Last but not least is the 2.2 litre turbodiesel with 177 PS and 431 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 2,500 rpm. The CRDi is mated to an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission. Drive is sent to the front wheels, not the rear like in the Starex. With rear multi-link suspension instead of the Starex’s live axle, Hyundai promises a more comfortable ride with its latest big MPV.

As for colours, Abyss Black Pearl and Creamy White are options for all three variants, with the Lite adding on a Shimmering Silver metallic option and the Max getting additional Graphite Grey metallic and Moonlight Blue Pearl choices (the latter is shown here). HSDM has an option list that includes side steps (standard or electronic), rear roof-mounted infotainment and Alcantara interior trim.

If you’re wondering about the huge gap in price between this 10-seater and the seven-seat Premium, it’s because of Malaysia’s vehicle tax structure, which gives a commercial vehicle loophole of sorts to four-row MPVs. It’s the same for the Kia Carnival – the 11-seater version, a CBU import, was priced just below RM200k. This year’s CKD 7/8 seater starts from RM231,228.

Another popular question is the “10-seater” name. Aren’t there 11 seats? Indeed, the Staria is marketed in some markets as an 11-seater, and that extra seat is in the front row, an extension of the front passenger seat. HSDM says that they are following government regulations by not counting the 11th seat.

So, what do you think of the Hyundai Staria in this 10-seater configuration? It’s a very different look versus the more conventionally handsome Kia Carnival, and the generous glass area also provides a unique ambience – which big Korean MPV is your pick? Need Alphard-level luxury? Check out the Staria Premium.

GALLERY: Hyundai Staria 10-seater Max

GALLERY: Hyundai Staria 10-seater Lite

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