What stands out?

Sharp pricing places the ix35 among the least costly family-sized SUVs, and it comes with a five-year warranty. You can choose two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and unusually for a car like this there is a full-sized spare tyre. The blue-lit interior is something different.

What might bug me?

Filling her up: the ix35 uses more fuel than many similar cars.

What body styles are there?

Five-door wagon only.

The ix35 is available in front-wheel drive and in all-wheel drive. It is classed as a small SUV, lower priced.

What features do all versions have?

Rear parking sensors, cruise control, a touchscreen, and Bluetooth connectivity.

Roof rails. These act as mounting points for the optional roof racks. (If you want to carry something on the roof, you also need the racks.)

Electronic stability control, which can help control a skid. All new cars must have this feature.

Six airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; side airbags to protect the upper body of front occupants; and head-protecting curtain airbags covering front and rear side windows.

A full-sized spare tyre.

The ix35 is covered by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

The 2.0-litre turbo diesel is the most frugal engine in an ix35, with consumption of 7.2 litres/100km in official tests (city and country combined). It is also the most powerful engine.

One reason you might not choose the diesel is price: it is available only in the more expensive Elite and Highlander models, where it still costs more than either petrol engine.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine is rated at 8.4 litres/100km with a six-speed automatic transmission – the configuration most buyers choose. It is the only engine available in two-wheel drive versions.

The 2.4-litre petrol engine has about 15 per cent more power than the 2.0 petrol in most situations.

Both the diesel and the 2.4 petrol come only with a six-speed automatic gearbox. The 2.0 petrol is also available with a six-speed manual.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

The least costly ix35, the Active, comes only in front-wheel drive form and with the 2.0-litre petrol engine. Wheels are 17-inchers in steel, with plastic wheel covers to make them look better.

The Elite too is available in front-wheel drive with that engine. But here you can also choose all-wheel drive, with either the 2.4 petrol engine or the turbo-diesel.

With any engine, the Elite rolls on lighter and more stylish aluminium alloy wheels. It has a leather-wrapped steering wheel, which carries answer and hang-up buttons for a phone (these are on the dash in Active models). There’s a reversing camera, satellite-navigation, and a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen (the 5.0-inch screen on the Active is monochrome).

Headlamps switch on automatically at night, while dual-zone air-conditioning allows different temperatures to be set for each side of the cabin. Seat trim adds some fake leather to the Active model’s cloth. Smart key entry allows you to leave the key in your pocket or handbag, and simply grab a front door handle to unlock the car.

The most expensive i30, the Highlander, is available only in all-wheel drive, with either the 2.4 petrol engine or the turbo-diesel. Wheels grow to 18 inches, fitted with tyres of a slightly lower profile, sharpening steering response on hard surfaces. In addition to the Elite’s features, there is a sunroof covering the front and rear occupants, full leather-look trim (some of it is fake leather), exterior mirrors that fold electrically when parked, heated front seats, and windows tinted to reduce sun penetration.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

Choosing all-wheel drive adds some weight (which contributes to higher fuel use) and raises service costs slightly. The diesel engine costs about 40 per cent more to service than the petrol models.

The bigger tyres on the Highlander could cost more to replace.
White is the only standard colour, with all others costing extra.

How comfortable is it?

The cabin has some hard plastic finishes that detract from its appeal: the upper dash, and plastics on the doors, for example. In other places, though, the ix35 is presented more elegantly, such as the faux leather cover with stitching over the centre console.

The touchscreen on the Active is small but it is high on the dash where it is easy to see and operate, as are the larger screens on Elite and Highlander models. Door-mounted window switches and air-conditioning controls fall easily to hand.

Vision out the front is good, too, although the smaller rear side windows reduce vision when looking over your shoulder for other cars.

Seats on the ix35 are comfortable but don’t have much side support, so that you might find yourself sliding around through corners.

The suspension on the ix35 is relatively firm (for more stable cornering) but not so firm that it jars occupants over bumps.

Noise from airflow and the tyres is well supressed, with the engine the biggest source of unwanted sound. The 2.0-litre petrol engine, in particular, can be quite noisy if you drive it hard.

What about safety?

There is good airbag coverage on the ix35.

A reversing camera is not available on the Active, but it is standard on the Elite and Highlander.

(To see a full list of the safety features on any model, select the car and look under the features tab. Safety-related features are listed in red.)

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has rated the ix35’s safety at five stars.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

The 2.0-litre engine provides enough power around town but it is less convincing at freeway speeds, where it can struggle when climbing hills. The extra oomph of the 2.4 brings better response and this engine feels more relaxed. The six-speed automatic does a good job of choosing the right gear, kicking down quickly when required.

If you appreciate more performance, the diesel engine is a good option. It feels much more powerful than either petrol engine in most situations, something particularly noticeable when climbing.

Push fast into a tight corner and the tyres on the Active and Elite models reach their limits quickly. The bigger tyres on the Highlander inspire more confidence.

Steering is very light, and while the ix35 is quick to respond when you turn the wheel, it does not give much feedback as to what’s going on at ground level.

All-wheel drive versions of the ix35 are light-duty off-roaders designed predominantly for on-road use. The full-sized spare tyre adds confidence to try tracks and trails, but the suspension design and low ride-height limit its ability.

How is life in the rear seats?

The ix35 is one of the smaller family SUVs, so leg room is tight for adults and there are no rear air-conditioning vents. Head room is good, though.

While the overall dimensions here are better suited to children, the rear windows get shorter towards the rear of the car. This gives it a stylish look from outside, but hinders side vision for small children.

The centre rear seatbelt pulls out of the roof, and therefore requires users to do up two buckles.

How is it for carrying stuff?

The boot is relatively short but it has a large opening, and the rear seat backs split-fold in a 60/40 configuration.

There’s also a small storage binnacle in the far right corner of the boot. A retractable hook behind the rear seats is a neat touch for carrying a shopping bag or two.

Pockets in all four doors provide extra space for odds and ends, with the front ones big and including a large space for a bottle.
The ix35 is rated to tow 1600kg.

Where is it made?

All ix35s are made in South Korea.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

Rear air-conditioning vents (on the Honda CR-V and Ford Kuga, for example).

Active safety features, including automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning (standard on some Mazda CX-5s, Honda CR-Vs and Subaru Foresters, for example).

Other alternatives include the Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Nissan X-Trail, and Toyota RAV4.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

The ix35 Elite 4WD picks up plenty of features that justify the modest price increase. The 2.4-litre engine, reserved for all-wheel drive models, is a decent step up on the 2.0 engine.

Are there plans to update this model soon?

The Hyundai ix35 arrived in 2010 as a replacement for the Tucson, which had been on sale since 2005.

The 2015 ix35 was superseded in August 2015 by an all-new model. However the new car reverted to the Tucson nameplate, and has gone on sale as the Hyundai Tucson.