Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Used Car Review - Hyundai Starex CRDi (2004-2007)

Need space? Myk Belmonte has found a solution for you. If the previous vehicle is small for your daily needs (bring the kids to school, family escapades to the malls, running the daily errands, and road trip to the beach), this one is more larger that you can fit the family, plus the dog and some stuff.

2004-2007 Hyundai Starex CRDi

There is this saying goes "Change is imminent, Change is constant". This saying goes to a vehicle, when it is a best seller, why fix something that isn't broken? Whenever a new version of an impressive vehicle goes bold, it's a love it-or-loathe it affair. Examples of market hits are the Second generation Montero Sport and the Sixth gen Honda Civic. Market misses do include the "Love Life" Toyota Corolla (many people bought the EK Civic despite nearing expiration date) and the current but late Nissan X-Trail. From a grey market favorite, the Hyundai Starex evolved and changed in a lot of ways since its "unofficial" introduction. It had introduced accessories such as roof racks, bull bars, rear ladder, and it had been different among its direct competition, by having a "nguso" which its engine is in front, not underneath that can cook eggs under the heat of the sun.

Hyundai Asia Resources Incorporated, the local distributor of Hyundai vehicles from 2001, decided to give the competition a shocker, placing a CRDi engine under the hood. Back in 2004, very few vehicles do have that technology to brag the competition. The intercooled diesel engine is still available for public consumption, which primarily moved the Starex way back before.

It was then Hyundai made the move of having a full CRDi line up from 2005 onwards. Currently, nearly every vehicle is powered by that diesel technology. This Filipino favorite truly evolved and the Philippine Car Market can go by with change, but it can be a smashing success or a doomed failure. Now thank the Starex CRDi and other vehicles in the early 00's for bringing in that type of technology to nearly every vehicle, with that novelty turned out to be mainstream. Variants available back then include the Gold, GRX, Jumbo, and a 4WD variant (this is rare).

Value and Costs
A used unit of this popular van can cost a prospective buyer between P520,000 to as high as P800,000! One good thing about the popularity of the Starex is that a fish of units can be found with an array of locally sold ones to those parallel imports. The Starex commands a premium over its "archaic" competitors, and even luxurious ones. A variant available only in color white is marketed to businessmen and entrepreneurs.

Parts availability is one advantage of this vehicle, from the OEM to the replacement and surplus ones. There is no need to worry if the unit is a parallel import, especially if it has converted from the "wrong side". Do take note that there is no Hyundai Starex sold in Japan. Maintenance costs are comparable to its contemporaries having that type of engine. Do have the oil changed regularly to avoid the engine giving up on you.

Exterior and Interior
What people might or not know that this generation is basically a facelift of the original brethren. Having a flat nose that can be either a good or bad thing. It does not look like an oven toaster, a chest freezer, or worst, karo ng patay. The imposing grill can be gorgeous or ugly, depending on whom you ask.

Being a driver, the Starex is one treat. Why do I say so? You would not look like a family driver with one. The dashboard is similar to a sedan, with the steering wheel titled to near sedan levels. Ample space greets passengers boarding. Unlike the competition, the Starex has easy ingress/egress, which is a good thing for senior citizens and the vertically challenged. And the ride is definitely comfortable, credit the retuned suspension, revised NVH insulation, and equipped with better build materials. Safety is definitely a priority, with majority of variants having Anti-lock brakes and a driver's side airbag.

Propelling this 1,620kg van is a 2,497cc diesel powered engine with CRDi technology that has 145hp at 3,800rpm and 360Nm at 2,000rpm. This van can propel to three digit speeds but not in excess. Two transmission options can be paired with the powerful engine, a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic with overdrive option. This engine bowed out in late 2007, where a monstrous 2.5 engine with VGT technology was placed under the hood. This also commenced its new name to Grand Starex.

Driving Impressions
Remember the time when driving a van would make you feel like driving a truck? Thanks to its engine location, and high levels of insulation; the Starex would let you experience car like driving and comfort, with the added security of the high ground clearance. Just be careful not to scrape the underpinnings, or it will definitely be costly to fix. This is one good prospect for someone wanting a vehicle that can ferry 12 bodies in a low profile way, but without irking the Human Rights Commission - unless your passengers are close but loyal friends.

There is nothing wrong on being "old school", but there are times that we must go with the flow (why am I comparing a car to a person?). The Starex had truly evolved from a wanderer in our country back in the 90s to a vehicle that got loved by the official distributor itself to achieving celebrity status. The Starex is one worthy candidate for a buyer prioritizing space, comfort, performance, and even prestige.

The Good:
  • No more egg cooking during summer - the hood is infront
  • Headroom and legroom is adequate
  • Car-like interior position
The Bad:
  • Huge grill (but this is subjective)
  • Bulky body
  • Kids only third row
The Pick: Gold variant

Engine: 2,497cc I4 diesel
Power: 85hp @ 4,000rpm (TCi), 145hp @ 3,800rpm (CRDi).
Torque: 170Nm @ 2,200rpm (TCi), 360Nm @ 2,000rpm (CRDi)
Fuel Consumption: 7-10km/L (city), 9-12km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent double wishbone, rear rigid axle 5-link

Price (New): P1,050,000-P1,468,000 (range from 2004-2007)
Price (Now): P520,000-P800,000
Rivals: Mitsubishi L300 Versa Van, Nissan Urvan, Toyota Hiace, Kia Pregio
On Sale: Late 2004-2007

Hyundai Quezon Avenue - 374-3911
Hyundai Commonwealth - 951-2201
Hyundai Pasig - 672-3801

Photos by Myk Belmonte
Starex unit provided by J. Palarca

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