Focus on pure practicality
HAULING groups can be a glamorous experience.
Being behind the wheel of a stretch Hummer or a limousine is something most could handle, with the suit, tie and flash hat thrown in for good measure.
But negotiating the daily school run or doing the groceries would be a chore.
That's the beauty of people-movers. They're pure practicality…they can fit in all the cherubs and their required luggage, with room to spare.
When it comes to value and space it's hard to beat the Hyundai iMax.
An adaptation of the iLoad van, the iMax has been urbanised to cater for eight people while still retaining a large boot space. And it presents as some of the best value.
Starting from under 40 grand, you essentially get a small bus, which is an honest and flexible performer.
Among the iMax line-up is the turbo-diesel, which is the cheapest oil-burner with a self shifter on the market in this genre.
It's all about space in the iMax. Eight adults can find their way into the people-mover without issue.
When it came to a recent family holiday with four adults, two children, a bike, pram and luggage, the big van swallowed the lot with some careful packing.
While the Kia Grand Carnival is the biggest seller in this segment, the iMax is number two and trumps its cousin when it comes in internal dimensions.
Despite behind based on a commercial vehicle, Hyundai has done a good job fitting things out inside. The materials are mostly soft-touch plastics, and the layout is simple yet effective.
There is nothing flashy or special about the design, it's clear the focus is on functionality.
You have a high riding position up front with good vision of the road and the seats are supportive in the right spots.
The cloth seats may cause an issue with the kids' food discards but nothing some seat covers couldn't fix.
On the road
From start-up the diesel-powered iMax can sound somewhat agricultural. There is little doubting that it's an oil-burner under the bonnet.
But having sampled both petrol and diesel variants, the oil-burner is by far the choice of weaponry with superior torque for tackling hills and quicker acceleration.
The petrol can feel particularly lacklustre under load and often struggled up steep inclines.
Given the dimensions the people-mover is quite nimble, but you can't attack corners too vigorously due to severe body roll.
Strong winds can also throw things around a little, while the rear parking sensors are a godsend in car parks where the iMax can be difficult to navigate into tight spots.
What do you get?
The specifications list isn't lavish, with the standard gear including a CD player with USB and iPod compatibility, steering wheel audio controls, Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, front and back air-conditioning, along with stability control and anti-lock brakes.
The biggest omission is cruise control, which should be a given on any new car nowadays.
The big player is the Kia Grand Carnival ($41,990), there is also the seven-seat Honda Odyssey Luxury ($44,920), Volkswagen Multivan ($) and the Toyota Tarago GLi ($52,490).
If you need space and lots of it, they don't come much better.
Eight adults can be carried in comfort along with their gear.
But it's not all perfect. There are no child seat anchorage points in the third row, and the seat that allows best access into the back is positioned on the traffic side of the vehicle.
The greatest bugbear the third row is fixed and you can drop and fold the seats into the floor.
The cabin does have good storage spaces and the dual glove box is handy.
The official consumption figure is nine litres for every 100km, which is good for a vehicle of this size.
Split the bill between eight and it's bargain basement travel.
Fully laden that figure can climb quickly, especially on terrain that's hilly.
Servicing shouldn't be too expensive, neither is insurance or replacement rubber.
We've seen some cool iMax around…complete with badges removed, dark tint on the back windows and some bling alloys. In standard form it's no head turner, but what people-mover is?
Combine the turbo-diesel powerplant and space with price, and you will battle to find a better deal.
The biggest let-down is the absence of cruise control.
The iMax gets the jobs done with no fanfare required.
Model: Hyundai iMax CRDi.
Details: Eight-seat five-door rear-wheel drive eight-seat people-mover.
Engine: 2.5-litre in-line four-cylinder turbo-diesel generating maximum power of 125kW @ 3600rpm and peak torque of 441Nm @ 2000-2250rpm (auto).
Transmission: Five-speed automatic.
Consumption: 9.0 litres/100km.
Bottom line: $42,490.