After close to 15 years of dependable service, Hyundai has finally introduced the replacement to the Starex multi-seat window van, called the Staria. With the launch in Thailand, the model also made its official debut in ASEAN.

Hyundai certainly thought out of the box when penned the styling for the Staria, as the new model looks futuristic even with a high percentage of “glass house” or windows. The front is devoid of any chunky headlamps or complex grille patterns.

A horizontal strip of LED lighting functions as DRL, while the simple headlamp with LED technology is housed in rectangular clusters at the corner of the bumper. The styling is unlike anything else from Hyundai, Kia or even European and Japanese designs.

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Viewed from the side, only the dual-tone wheels stand out, as the body is smooth and simple in styling. At the Thailand launch, two variants are available and the higher-end SEL variant has “Parametric Pixel” LED taillamp technology, larger 18-inch wheels as well a power-closing tailgate.

Inside, the configuration allows up to seating for 11, including a half-sized jumpseat in between the driver and front passenger. The second and fourth-row seats are a bench for three, while the third row is a pair of captain seats, perhaps for ease of access to the fourth row. All seats have a three-point seatbelt.

Powered-sliding doors are standard on both variants, together with retractable sun blinds which are mightily useful for the extra-large windows. The dashboard is used to separate the features between the two variants, with the SEL gaining a full-colour 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, special trim pattern, wireless charger for smartphone and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

The driver’s seat is also powered in the higher-end SEL variant. Other standard interior features include automatic air-conditioning both front and back, seven USB charging ports and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

In terms of Hyundai SmartSense ADAS features, the SEL also comes with all the bells and whistles, such as Forward Collision Avoidance Assist-Junction Turning (FCA-JT), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Smart Cruise Control, Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance (BSCA) and Safe Exit Assist (SEA).

One might think the Staria continue to use the same underpinnings as the previous generation due to its size and capabilities. Hyundai has thoroughly re-engineered the Staria, with the turbodiesel engine now driving the front wheels and the rear suspension featuring an independent multi-link arrangement.

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Under the bonnet lies a modern CRDi turbodiesel unit displacing 2.2-litres. Outputs are 177 hp and 431 Nm of torque, a lower state of tune than in the Santa Fe. They both share the same 8-speed automatic transmission though and thanks to the new steering wheel design, the Staria also gets shift paddles to manually select the desired gear ratio.    

The new Hyundai Staria in Thailand is priced at THB1,729,000 (RM222k) for the S variant and THB1,999,000 (RM256k) for the SEL variant.

Based on social media postings, Indonesia is next in line to officially launch the Hyundai Staria. Closer to home, Hyundai Sime Darby Motors Malaysia is preparing the launch of the large premium Hyundai Palisade SUV.