We tested a top-of-the-range 2L diesel Hyundai ix35 Highlander, with five seats and six-speed automatic with manual selection option. A 2L 2WD car and one with a 2.4L AWD petrol engine are also available.
CHOICE voting members Johanne Rossi and Tobias Dunn and their two sons, Pierre-Louis (13 years) and Roman (five), drove the Hyundai ix35 Highlander around for a weekend of family errands and fun.
The family says:
Johanne and Tobias found it very easy to put Roman in and take him out of the rear seat. They said the child seat anchors are easy to locate on the back of the seats, and when they needed to fold the seat forward to fit a bike in, moving the child seat from the passenger side to the centre was simple.
Room to move?
There's definitely some room for improvement: when they moved the child seat to the centre, Pierre-Louis was squashed to the side. He found it very difficult to put on his seat belt and had to push the child seat to attach his seat belt.
Roman didn't have any issue with legroom, but Pierre-Louis's knees nudge the back of the driver's seat when it's pushed all the way back. Despite this, for a small SUV, they consider it quite roomy.
They found the window controls were far enough away from the kids (though they don't really need to worry about this considering the kids' ages).
The boot is quite wide and deep although the height doesn't feel sufficient compared to their other family car. They couldn't fit in an adult bike (with front wheel off) standing up as they're used to. They had difficulty sliding it in flat, although did get it in eventually. They could easily fit a kid's scooter standing up.
The family liked how many features were included for the price, including push-button start, auto lights, side mirrors that can fold, sensors and cameras for reversing, lumbar support in seats, seat heating, the double sun roof (which means you could have the back open and have the air flow in, without the sun exposure), connection options and GPS.
They also appreciated the dual-control air conditioning, including the fact that you can direct it onto your hands so it cools down the steering wheel after you've been parked in the sun.
The design of the steering wheel controls is fantastic, but Johanne and Tobias felt they'd be better located toward the top of the wheel rather than at the bottom. On the downside, rear visibility is limited, especially with a child seat in the back.
They found the gear box quite hard – it was a bit rough to go from park to drive or drive to reverse. And while they found the manual option OK, it would be great to change gear directly from the steering wheel.
Our family testers commented that they'd like to see sensors at the front (the rear ones are great) as it's quite a high car and they can't really tell where the car ends at the front.
They also didn't like how long it took to brake and didn't really like the feel of the steering wheel.
We found steering lifeless and it felt disconnected from the road. The six-speed auto worked well, though we found the ride is too firm, so you feel every bump in the road. Seating was flat, fairly hard, but reasonably supportive.
Engine noise was not really an issue when driving on good roads, but there was a bit of noise from the A pillars (the metal surrounding the windscreen) and mirrors at high speeds on the freeway. Under strong acceleration, the engine does get noisy, and it has the usual rattle at idle that diesel engines tend to show.
There is a good-sized cargo space, because the rear seats fold almost flat. We found the visibility is OK, despite the A pillars being quite thick, but the C pillars restrict visibility through the rear.
Good torque from the diesel engine makes it safe for overtaking. We also found there was a good selection of features – and fuel use was economical compared to the manufacturer's claim.
While there were a few niggling details that Johanne and Tobias didn't like about the Hyundai ix35, overall they'd buy it for a family car because of how cost-effective it is, and because of the many boxes it ticks when it comes to features.
Our tester felt the ride was too firm, but it's a nice car to drive, has good performance and very good economy for a larger car.
Cost: from $40,490
Fuel usage - claim vs measured per 100km: 7.2L vs 6.6L
Acceleration to 100km/h: 9.7s
Braking distance from 60km/h: 14.5m
ANCAP safety rating: 5 stars out of 5