You look at the new Hyundai Staria and before you get too excited, no, it isn’t for sale here. This is the replacement for a van called the Starex, a sort of anonymous (though almost attractive in its latest facelift) MPV that does taxi, paint, and people transportation duties in Asia and Europe.
The van market abroad is a little different from our traditional van market for strollers with cupholder sports, even before the SUV wave flooded van sales. But even the most ardent Starex fans couldn’t possibly have dreamed of what it would turn into.
According to Hyundai, the new Staria has “a strikingly futuristic and mysterious exterior that resembles a spaceship” – and while we would normally rather describe a vehicle to our readers in our own words, the company just nailed it.
Remove the wheels and it could be a The Expanse shipping pod. Or an autonomous taxi from Westworld, at least outside the park. And just to show you how far Hyundai’s styling skills have grown, the Staria is arguably more interesting from a stylistic point of view than the delivery van presented by Porsche Vision Race Service a few months ago. This is, after all, the company that just dropped its jaws with the Ioniq 5 – a company that clearly sees styling as a key differentiator and a way to stand out. And stand out for having the latest products; We see you, Sonata and Elantra sedans, and the Tucson crossover 2022.
We don’t expect Porsche-like performance from the Staria – smart money is based on specs roughly on par with most of the Starex’s diesel offerings – and in fact, Hyundai doesn’t release any hard details yet. But for our purposes, in a market where the Staria is almost certainly not available at all, what this van looks like is important. It’s futuristic – and great.
If Hyundai ever wants to dip a toe into this segment again in the US, the Staria isn’t a bad place to start. Who remembers the entourage minivan? Nobody.