Hyundai’s iLoad shows that a semi-bonneted van design still retains maximum appeal for the average PUD fleet operator – Words by Warren Caves, images by Torque it Up.
Hyundai’s popular and hardworking iLoad LCV (light commercial vehicle) range has received a styling makeover and significant appointment upgrades to draw new buyers to the Korean makers 2018 offering.
Originally released a decade ago to compete with the likes of the Toyota HiAce, the iLoad has seen numerous transitional updates over the ensuing years in a bid to maintain and secure market share.
A recipe of rugged, no-nonsense design and “tack sharp” pricing has seen the iLoad become a popular choice for the budget-conscious business owner and tradies alike.
To thwart the risk of becoming style redundant, the 2018 model range sees a front face makeover, with a more modern design, and a flowing, black bar grille featuring chrome lip surrounds sloping gently outwards towards the all new dusk-sensing headlamps, for a more integrated look.
There is a new instrument cluster with digital trip meter, average speed and distance to empty displays. However, the absence of a fuel economy function seems peculiar, considering the fuel consumption must already be digitally monitored to be able to display the distance to empty figures.
An updated seven-inch touchscreen multimedia unit has also been added, featuring, Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Intuitive, easily-navigated menus and large display made for untroubled operation and Bluetooth pairing, even for a Gen X operator such as myself.
Sound quality from the system was adequate; however, it was let down a little by speaker quality and use of only two speaker outlets.
The 2018 iLoad also features steering wheel controls for Bluetooth phone operation, audio controls and cruise control features.
Connectivity extends to the AUX, and USB sockets located adjacent to the gear selector, and a 12-volt power outlet below. An accessory outlet could have been better placed out of way in the dash-top storage vestibule, for use with windscreen-mounted devices that would allow better cable management.
The multimedia unit is also connected to a reverse camera working in conjunction with the reverse park assist four-sensor system. The volume on the audio system is automatically turned down when reverse gear is selected, handy if you’re prone to reversing into things and would like to hear the impact as well as feel the sensation.
The interior fit and finish is well designed, ergonomic, and feels well put together, with everything at your fingertips.
Refreshed cloth seating design and auto dusk-sensing headlamps round out the interior improvements. While the seating was firm and supportive, plus being durable in appearance, it felt a little too firm for a long drive and was lacking a lumbar adjustment, which would have been a good addition for this latest upgrade.
Occupant safety has not been overlooked, with driver and passenger as well as side airbags securing a four-star ANCAP safety rating.
Engine and drivetrain specifications remain the same as with the previous models, with the choice of the 2.5-litre, DOHC, 16-valve, turbo, intercooled diesel engine, in either the 125 kW rating for the five-speed automatic model or the 100 kW rating for the six speed manual version. Torque figures are 441 Nm @ 2000-2500 rpm for the auto, and 343 Nm @ 1500-2500 rpm for the manual.
Delivery tested the 2.5-litre, 125 kW version fitted with the five-speed automatic transmission.
The 2.5-litre powerplant propelled the 2062 kg tare weight van (the manual sits at 2047 kg) over varying environments during our week-long evaluation with ease, providing ample torque and dropping all the way down to 1500 rpm without labouring. When requested (such as overtaking on rural roads), what can best be described as spritely performance from 80 km/h up to the posted 100 km/h limit was available.
In-cabin noise levels from the engine have been well managed by commercial vehicle standards – even when requesting full power to the rear wheels, engine noise was not overly intrusive.
Fuel economy figures stated by the manufacturer on a combined city/highway cycle are 8.8 l/100 km for the 125 kW variant and 7.6 l/100 km for the 100 kW rating. The improved economy for the 100 kW engine is also assisted through the lower torque curve peak of 1500-2500 rpm and the resultant down-speeding of that engine.
The test route driven over the week replicated the textbook description of the standard combined cycle, with my rural home to Sydney commuting and built-up traffic duties providing an all-round balance for evaluation. With the absence of a fuel economy readout within the dashboard display, the odometer showed that a 700 km range between refills is easily achievable. This experience supported the view that the fuel economy was in the vicinity of the mid to high nines, keeping in mind our tests were carried out in an unladen state. The 75-litre fuel tank provides adequate range for daily city duties and rural work.
The five-speed automatic transmission in our test vehicle was a “little ripper”, with gear selection being on point at all times, and with the transition between cogs seamless and barely even noticeable. A manual sports shift mode is included, with the in-dash display showing current gear selected and suggested up-shift guidance. This is another contributor to driver information aimed at reducing fuel consumption.
On the road and unladen, the handling was surefooted and predictable from the MacPherson strut front and leaf-spring rear suspended vehicle. Even on pot-holed, rutted and uneven surfaces, there was no evidence of bump steer or tail kickout. If there is a criticism it would be that the ride was a little coarse, possibly simply something that is to be expected from a vehicle designed to carry its 1098 kg rated payload (1113 kg for the manual).
Braking from the ABS, EBD (electronic brake-force distribution) equipped four-wheel disc braking system was admirable and precise.
If towing, it is of importance for the buyer to note that the 100 kW manual model has the heaviest tow capacity of 2000 kg (braked) over the auto model’s 1500 kg (braked), resulting in GCM’s of 5160 kg for the manual and 4660 kg for the auto model.
At 5.150 metres long and with a wheelbase of 3.2 metres, manoeuvrability was good with the turning circle stated at 11.2 metres.
In the back, with the optional 180-degree dual swing-out doors, there’s room for two Australian standard pallets to be loaded, with a cargo length of 2375 mm, width of 1620 mm and 1272 mm between the wheel arches. With a generous height of 1340 mm and dual sliding side doors as standard, versatility is ensured for a variety of tasks. Eight secure floor-mounted tie-down rings and a vinyl floor covering are standard fitment.
A cavernous cargo area devoid of any real insulation, apart from the vinyl mat, does impart considerable noise into the cabin space. There was a mesh cargo barrier installed and perhaps a cover may be available for that to reduce the noise a little and improve the aircon performance on hot days, but, as tested, holding a conversation with a passenger at highway speed required raised voices. The crew-cab version with interior trimming and a full-height and full-width fixed steel bulkhead keeps the noise generated from the tyres and any echoing firmly in the rear cargo area.
Pricing for the lift-back door model starts at $38790 + ORC, or $39340 for the barn-door option. The five-speed automatic will add $3000, and tack on another $2000 if you need the six-seater.
Five-year/160,000 km warranty, 15,000 km service intervals and Hyundai’s iCare program, with its lifetime service plan, should put cost of ownership figures in a favourable position.
With the availability of three seats (or six-seat options in the case of the crew-cab versions) and a choice of rear door designs, these latest style and feature updates have brought the 2018 Hyundai iLoad up to the latest market expectations. With its rugged budget-conscious design, it should continue to do well within the hotly contested segment of the market.