11-seat Hyundai Staria brings cosmic style to the minivan market
Tired of ogling sleek, futuristic vans from unestablished EV companies that may or may not ever make it to the production stage? Or similarly sleek, futuristic vans that are nothing more than concepts with no future? Well, here's a slick-looking van from Hyundai that will actually be making it into production, and it's every bit as stylish as those others. The new Staria features clean, concept-grade styling with digitized lighting, a smooth, near-hoodless shape and an ultra-comfy interior. In the not so distant future, it'll be commuting global roadways with between two and 11 people on board.
We'd like to say Hyundai is making minivans cool again, but we're not sure they really were ever that cool to begin with, just irresistibly practical to those that bought them. The Staria ups the game with a captivating look that feels more like an autonomous electric transporter concept than an MPV headed for production.
Hyundai explains that the shape of the new van was inspired by the sunrise halo around Earth's horizon as viewed from space, leading designers to craft a smooth, fluid profile. We think it'd be a touch more effective with a slightly rounder roofline, like the Volkswagen ID. Buzz or original T1, but Hyundai keeps the roof and rear fascia straighter and more conventional than the front.
That halo-inspired curvature lays the way for a compact front-end that barely juts forward from the A-pillar line. The small face impresses itself upon one's memory with its distinctive fiber optic-like strip of daytime running lights. Down below, the large radiator grille provides a singular reminder that the Staria isn't actually an all-electric van from the future. That grille is flanked by the stacked LED headlights that illuminate the roadway ahead. Interestingly, the Staria's curvaceous styling creates a rather stark contrast with the purposefully angular treatment of the all-electric Ioniq 5 introduced a few weeks back.
Along the sides, Hyundai drops the belt line toward the wheel arches, opening up larger windows for a more panoramic view from inside. The rear of the van looks much simpler and less futuristic, appearing like it could easily slide on back the current-gen Starex, which the Staria will replace. The extra-tall "parametric pixelated" tail lamps of the Premium trim tie in with the overall new-model styling, and the centralized make/model badging provides a cleaner, less cluttered appearance. The lowered bumper makes for easier cargo loading and unloading.
Staring at the Staria's face, it'd be easy to get the impression that Hyundai designers spent all their time on the exterior, possibly at the expense of the interior. But, in fact, they worked in the opposite direction, guiding the new van with an "inside-out" philosophy.
The Staria interior was inspired by a cruise ship lounge, the large windows providing a calming view out to the tree-lined sea of asphalt. The seven-seat Premium variant provides especial lounge-like comfort, offering the bonus of one-button reclining second-row seats. The nine-seat Premium model, meanwhile, has swiveling second-row seats to enable face-to-face conversations. The Staria can seat as many as 11 in its all-out passenger-moving configuration down to two in the cargo-oriented layout.
Hyundai promises a driver-focused cockpit with a digital instruments, an infotainment touchscreen and an electronic shift button. The 64-color mood lighting system available on the Premium trim mixes direct and indirect lighting around the cockpit, floor, door and luggage areas to enhance interior ambiance.
The Staria could make a gorgeous camper van, and those swivel seats on the nine-seat version would be a natural fit ... assuming Hyundai also made them foldable into a bed. Hyundai does build a pop-top camper van atop the current Starex van, so there is certainly hope we'll see a Staria camper down the line. Minivans may not be the most stylish vehicles in the average parking lot, but a Staria camper van would have an easy time becoming the most stylish vehicle in an RV park. Don't take our word — just compare with the droopy face of the Fiat Ducato, Europe's camper of choice.
Before we get close to Staria RVing, though, Hyundai will have to host the full Staria premiere, detailing powertrain information, driver-assistance tech, and all those other specs and features potential buyers are eager to learn. The automaker says that will happen via a digital world premiere sometime during the first half of 2021.
The Starex has been offered under various model names in global markets around Asia, Europe and Australia, but not in the US, so we're not optimistic that the Staria will make it Stateside. It could certainly help to boost America's opinion of the minivan, though, and would look great zipping down interstate highways and appearing in photos at popular #vanlife stops.