Rivalling the Kia Carnival, the Hyundai Staria might be the cheaper-yet-cooler 11-seater MPV
Sanjay · Jul 17, 2021 10:00 AM
The 2021 Hyundai Staria (US4) has just entered the ASEAN region, but before it came the 2021Kia Carnival(KA4). Although they share the same Hyundai-Kia N3 platform, both companies' take on 11 seaters are vastly different, as we'll explore below with these Thai-spec cars.
Dimensions - Staria is the bigger car
The Staria replaces the Hyundai Grand Starex/H-1, and not only is it bigger than that, it's also larger than the Carnival.
Here's how they stack up, and the Hyundai's extra length and height hints at better leg- and headroom:
Exterior - Conventional or futuristic?
Both certainly have their charms, but the Staria is way more divisive than the Carnival thanks to its ovoid figure punctuated only by monocular headlights and vertical tail lights.
Comments about it being suitable to star in a sci-fi movie set in the near future are aplenty, and it's obvious why.
Choice design touches of the Staria are its 'Parametric Pixel' LED tail lights and 'Flush Glass' second-row windows, where the latter is made to look 'one-piece' with its doors. Both features are available only on higher-end variants.
The Carnival, meanwhile, sticks to more traditional concepts. Its slightly shorter profile and smidge lower ride height lends the Kia a sleeker look compared to the rotund Staria.
Kia's offering comes with a floating-roof design, thanks to 'invisible' A- and B- pillars. Lending extra spice to the looks are the C-pillars which gets contrast-coloured detailing.
Split in looks aside, buyers won't be lacking in standard features: LED head- and tail lights are standard fitments just like LED daytime running lights (DRLs).
Wheel choices are slightly different – while both variants of the Carnival (at least in Thailand) share 18-inch units, the Staria's base S variant rolls around on simpler 17-inch wheels. The better-looking 18-inchers are reserved for the top-spec SEL.
Interior - Same formula, different takes
The Staria's cabin – which draws inspiration from cruise ships – is a tad more modern compared to the Carnival.
For example, the cheaper Staria S still gets a digital instrument cluster, albeit a less-glitzy, smaller 4.2-inch one compared to the customisable 10.25-inch unit found in the higher-end SEL variant.
Either of these options sound a little more techy than the standard analogue instrument cluster found in all variants of the Thailand-spec Carnival.
How the interior is packaged differs as well. While both MPVs can fit a football team, their layouts are different; the Staria employs a 3-3-2-3 layout, while the Carnival gets 2-3-3-3.
The tiny middle seat in the Staria's front-row can be converted into cupholders with makeshift storage, but it's a less elegant solution compared to the Carnival's proper armrest and storage setup.
Speaking of storage, both the Staria and Carnival offer fold-away second-, third-, and fourth-row seats to maximise cargo space.
In terms of creature comforts, both these Korean behemoths offer standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity (although the Carnival gets a bigger 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment screen and optional Bose audio, compared to the Staria's 10.25-inch touchscreen, undisclosed brand setup).
In other aspects, both models come with handsfree powered doors and tailgate, a smattering of connectivity options (6 USB ports in the Kia, 7 in the Hyundai), and a wireless charger.
Both models in the Land of Smiles run on a 2.2-litre turbodiesel. The four-pot mill in the Hyundai churns out 177 PS and 431 Nm of torque, paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
On the other hand, the Carnival's diesel engine makes 202 PS and 440 Nm, also mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox.
Safety - Well-equipped on both fronts
Higher-end variants of both models come with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), namely:
Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (BSM, RCTA)
Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
Prices - One is more premium than the other
In Thailand, the Carnival is a way dearer product, commanding quite a bit of premium over its competitor.
The Carnival starts from THB 2,144,000 (~RM 275,610) for the base EX variant, and tops out at THB 2,459,000 for the range-topping SXL (~RM 316,146).
On the other hand, prices for the Staria range begins from THB 1,729,000 (~RM 226,636) for the S, and THB 1,999,000 (~RM 257,403) for the SEL.
Sure, the Carnival is an altogether more 'upper-class' product, but considering how much cheaper the Staria goes for and yet retaining valuable quality-of-life features within its cabin paints it as good value proposition.
Any of these coming to Malaysia?
As much as they are nice MPVs to look at, we haven't heard about these models making it to Malaysia anytime soon. However, both brands have other plans here in the interim.
For Kia, they are concentrating on after-sales in the meantime. Although they have plans to start local assembly (CKD) of the Carnival, it takes between 12 to 18 months for things to commence - which means the earliest we could see a CKD Kia model is in 2022.
Hyundai Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) - official distributors of the marque here - have their hands full for 2021, as they will be introducing the Hyundai KonaN Line and Hyundai Palisade sometime this year.
With humble beginnings collecting diecast models and spending hours virtually tuning dream cars on the computer, his love of cars has delightfully transformed into a career. Sanjay enjoys how the same passion for cars transcends boundaries and brings people together.