Hyundai ix35 Highlander Series II Review



Hyundai ix35 Highlander the complete ix35 package

The Highlander is the most expensive and most luxurious version of Hyundai’s mid-size SUV, the ix35. We sampled the base Active version last year, and found although it was made and designed, its relatively frugal specification levels left us feeling a little cold.

In this review, we assessed the Highlander version to determine whether the extra fruit completes the ix35 package.
Hyundai ix35

Hyundai ix35 Highlander back


Our Opinion

What we like:

  • Quiet but powerful diesel engine
  • Commanding driving position
  • Refinement
  • Comfort

Not so much:

  • Could be more economical
  • No front parking sensors
  • Poor quality reversing camera
  • Interior still a little drab

Price and Equipment

The Hyundai ix35 Highlander is fitted standard with leather seats with two stage front seat heaters, push button start, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, satellite Navigation with 7″ touch screen and a full length panoramic roof with sliding blind.

Outside, there are 18inch wheels, privacy glass and electrically folding mirrors, all bespoke to the Highlander trim level, which in diesel form, is priced from $40,990.

Metallic paint adds another $595.

InteriorHyundai ix35 Highlander sunroofs

A key factor in SUV design is often driving position-the elevated ride height gives drivers are more commanding view of the road. This is an area where the ix35 excels. All round visibility is laudable, and the driver’s seating position provides them with a perspective of their surroundings that makes the ix35 feel larger and higher than its dimensions suggest, without feeling intimidating.

The leather wrapped seat the driver is perched upon is comfortable if a little firm and slightly lacking in support. It is disappointing to note that the only two levels of heating adjustment are offered, where most competitors-and even the ix35’s bigger brother the Santa Fe-offer three stage adjustment.

Additionally, the dashboard is logically laid out, with the 7inch infotainment screen that projects all information including satellite navigation guidance and pictures from the rear camera. The system includes is easy enough to use and the screen falls within the driver’s peripheral vision, but navigation instructions aren’t offered on the instrument cluster.

A compass resides in the rear-view mirror. A nice touch, but we found that it could become confused at times. In one instance, it thought we were travelling southwest, when in actual fact we were heading in a north easterly direction.

The buttons on the steering wheel for the audio system-which is of decent quality-and cruise control fall easily to hand, but the toggle switches to adjust volume and cruise control speed are a little too small. Moreover, voice control technology is nowhere to be seen.

There are a number of ports for media devices located at the base of the centre stack, allowing for a neat area to charge mobile phones or other devices. Bluetooth streaming with compatible devices is also offered.

Although the dashboard is fashioned from decent materials, most are in a shade of dark grey. The Highlander lacks colour and trim that are not only needed to liven up the passenger compartment, but set the flagship further apart from cheaper variants.

However, the dark materials are offset by the dual glass roofs-something which is shared with other top of the line Hyundai models, including the Santa Fe and i40- which allow natural light to stream into the cabin, while heightening the sense of space.


The rear seats are firm, but reasonably comfortable. And as the transmission tunnel is reasonably flat, three passengers may fit across and the centre passenger is spared a less awkward seating position. The rear seats fold in a 60:40 split, and the rear cargo area is a very useable 1579 litres with the seats folded down, and 730 litres with the rear seats in the upright position.

Engine and Transmission

The ix35’s 2.0 litre diesel develops 135kW @ 4000rpm and 392Nm @ 1800-2500rpm. The engine is a little gem, delivering power in a smooth and linear fashion. The engine is quiet too, and at times it can be a little tricky to pick the powerplant as an oil burner from within the cabin, especially at cruising speeds.

The transmission is also a smooth operator, with our only complaint that it didn’t downshift earlier enough on some occasions when we were accelerating up steep hills at highway speeds.

Fuel consumption was a little disappointing, and we recorded and average consumption score of around 9.0 litres per 100 kilometres.

Hyundai ix35

On The Road

That elevated driving position and impressive visibility combined with comfortable and absorptive ride render the ix35 Highlander an ideal family companion. There is a touch of body roll, but this is to be expected of a tall vehicle.

The steering is a woolly, without being overly ambiguous and uncommunicative.

Should ix35 Highlander owners wish to venture offroad, there is a 4×4 “Lock” button to help drivers out of sticky or slippery situations and a hill descent button to help tackle steep gradients.

High mounted projector headlights with built-in LEDs provide excellent vision during night time driving, with good range on low beam.


The ix35 Highlander’s suite of active safety equipment includes: Anti-skid Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM). A reversing camera and rear parking sensors are also fitted as standard on Highlander models.

Camera images are large and there are useful guidance lines to aid reverse parking. Unfortunately, the camera’s pictures were a little ambiguous and grainy, and this made them difficult to interpret at night.

Passive safety equipment comprises: dual front, side and curtain airbags.

All ix35 models have been awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Servicing and Warranty

The ix35, like all Hyundai models, is covered by the Korean giant’s five-year unlimited kilometre warranty and capped priced servicing program. Services are scheduled at 12 month or 15,000 kilometre intervals and are priced at $399 per service.

Hyundai ix35 Highlander Series II Specs

Make and model: Hyundai ix35 Highlander
Engine type: 1995cc four-cylinder turbo intercooled diesel with double overhead cam
Power: 135kW @ 4000rpm
Torque: 392Nm @ 1800-2500rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic, on demand four-wheel drive
Fuel consumption: 7.2 litres per 100 kilometres
Dimensions: 4410mm long, 1820mm wide, 1680mm high and 2640mm wheelbase
Weight: 1708kg
Suspension: Front: MacPherson strut Rear: Multi-link
Steering: Electric rack and pinion steering
Country of Origin: Korea
Price: $40,990
Options: Metallic paint-$595


  • Wow Factor6
  • Interior & Space7
  • On the Road7
  • Performance8
  • Value9
  • 7.4


    The Highlander’s additional luxuries and technologies make the ix35 a more complete package. A comfortable, refined and practical mid-size SUV.
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The founding father of The Motoring Guru, Matt has been a lifelong car enthusiast and a passionate writer. Back in 2013 when The Motoring Guru was first launched, Matt wanted to combine his two passions whilst offering readers sound motoring advice.