Seating for eight as Staria aligns

As Honda announced the demise of its much-loved family machine, the Odyssey, in comes one of the world’s newest – and possibly biggest – people movers.

The Japanese car that has proven a godsend for large families (especially those with more than three children) was added to the long queue of once-popular SUVs that have perished on the rocks.

But the Odyssey was special and leaves one lasting legacy that is impossible to overlook – it made people-movers cool.Well, sort of.

Across its five generations it broke down the cringe-worthy reputation of “family wagons” – and those who drove them – of being slow, boring and completely “unsexy”. They were often the object of pity and ridicule – remember the Mitsubishi Starwagon, Toyota HiAce and Mazda MPV?

Of course, it was Toyota’s Tarago that first challenged the box-like design of these machines, but it was the Odyssey that made them car-like to drive, as well as to look at.

Now, they are gone.

After all, why buy a dorky-looking “family bus” when there’s all manner of macho, Reviews High Level Movers company look-at-me SUVs that can carry much the same load without the need for curtains.

People movers still exist, of course, but they no longer harbour any ambition to be cool or sexy.An appropriate time, then, to introduce Hyundai’s behemoth, the Staria. A people-mover on a grand scale. A Mitsubishi Starwagon on steroids.

A car that could swallow an entire Honda Odyssey in its massive cabin – probably without having to fold down the third row of seats.

As square and boxy as it looks, the Staria’s design is ultra-modern and surprisingly luxurious.The flagship Highlander variant, costing $66,500 before registration and dealer charges, is tested for this review.

That money buys a lot of car (with a lot of space) plus a pretty decent helping of technology to boot.

There’s a massive glass sunroof and roughly a hectare of supple leather on the Staria’s eight seats.

What’s more, it has all been rather thoughtfully fitted out.Inside that massive cabin there’s about a dozen cupholders, several power points and data connections and a mass of glass all around to ensure that parking and Reviews High Level Movers company driving in busy traffic is not a complete nightmare. Just a small nightmare.

The Staria is no snack to park – not so much because of any vision issues but rather the large piece of real estate required.Underground car parks will need to offer at least two metres of vertical clearance.

On a positive note, there are sliding doors on each side of the vehicle, which open electrically in the upmarket Highlander, either from a button inside or Reviews High Level Movers company remotely.

The rear “captain’s chairs” swivel and slide to allow just about any configuration and enable passengers to step through from side to side and front to rear, or to engage in face-to-face conversation.

With all eight seats in operation, there’s still cargo storage roughly the size of an average SUV luggage compartment.

The Staria’s dash is not conventional, Reviews High Level Movers company but does the job with a sense of purpose and class.In particular, the piano black finishes provide an upmarket look, as do the beautiful graphics on the driver’s instrument panel. There’s also a supporting wide screen to accommodate the infotainment system and satellite navigation.

So big is the dash that Hyundai have more or less created three little “addresses” for various functions – driver’s instruments on the right hand side, infotainment in the middle and climate control edging towards the passenger seat.

Yes, it’s very big and very square, but it’s also interesting to look at.At the front it’s reminiscent of those original Taragos and from the back it’s reminiscent of an apartment block.

Yet dynamically, by some miracle of modern science, it’s not such a bad thing at all.

The test van had the Korean maker’s 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel engine (130kW; 400Nm), which makes this the most expensive model in the three-model range – including also Staria and Staria Elite – and also impressively zippy.Otherwise there’s the option of a 3.5-litre V6 petrol (200kW, 331Nm) model for $3000 less.

The diesel’s modest 8.2L/100km thirst (far superior to the petrol’s 10.5L/100km) would help recoup some of the initial outlay. Both engines use a smooth eight-speed auto, and the three diesel variants offer all-wheel drive.

During an extended highway drive of about 200km the Staria sipped well below a quarter of a tank.That suggests it would enjoy a cruising range of more than 900km – pretty impressive for a vehicle that can seat eight adults, and all of their gear, in plush leather-clad comfort.

That also makes it appealing as a mode of executive or airport transport.

The Staria is a surprisingly accomplished highway cruiser – supremely quiet with sturdy, well-balanced road manners.What’s more, it’s almost big enough to enable passengers to wander around the cabin to stretch their legs.

Without multiple children or the regular need to ferry several people, there’s no need for a Staria. But it’s high on the list of contenders for a rental vehicle to travel with friends.

Unless, of course, there’s still a Honda Odyssey.

HYUNDAI STARIA HIGHLANDER

* HOW BIG: It’s 5253mm long, 1997mm wide and 1990mm Reviews High Level Movers company.It weighs 2.3 tonnes.

* HOW FAST: Adequately. Quick enough to get there before the gates open.

* HOW THIRSTY: Official consumption on the diesel test model is 8.2L/100km. There are many planets which consume much more.

* HOW MUCH?Prices range from $45,740 for the entry-level Staria, up to $66,500 for the Highlander.