2023 Hyundai Stargazer – First Impressions

Trendjacking is a new-age term used to describe the way brands hijack certain trends to become relevant, hence, beefing up their online presence. While the term is certainly new, this has been the essence of marketing and selling ever since the very first fish sauce maker marketed its product in 35 B.C. – what sells dictates the trend. 

We all know that MPVs sell well to Filipino car buyers, so it’s no surprise that major car brands want to get a piece of the action. Case in point: Hyundai and its Stargazer. Now officially in the Philippines, here are my thoughts on the all-new model after a quick test.

Unapologetic exterior design

I have a certain level of disdain against anemic, SUV-looking MPVs that are neither sporty nor hinting to utility. Fortunately, the Hyundai Stargazer isn’t that. It’s an MPV through and through and very unapologetic, especially with its shape – short nose and a streamlined flow from the hood to the roof and to the back. No annoying pretension to be an SUV here, which I very much adore.

Bonus points for looking like the bigger Staria, the Stargazer is just as futuristic as trendjacking, which means it will alienate those with traditional tastes but will certainly pique the attention of the trendier bunch. Obviously, I’m the latter.

Specifically, I love how the ensemble of LEDs upfront highlights the Stargazer’s contemporary approach, as is the rear end that has LED lights forming the letter H. Speaking of the rear, it would seem like the rear end is a bit too busy at first glance but give it a few moments and it will grow on you; props to the details like the blacked-out tailgate handle and shark’s fin antenna. The 16-inch two-tone wheels of the top-spec GLS Premium find a nice balance between uniqueness and over-styling.

Interior that makes a lot of sense (but with a notable flaw)

One design flaw I see with the Stargazer is its high dashboard that forces you to seat high for better driving visibility, along with the left A-pillar that produces a huge blind spot. The triangular corner windows aren’t much of a help on the left side, but at least the right side makes sense. I also hate to point out that the negative spaces around the instrument cluster and infotainment system aren’t the prettiest on the planet. I wish Hyundai could have done this part differently.

On the plus side, everything else inside the Stargazer makes sense – the sufficient amount of space for seven adults, the air-conditioning that easily reaches the third row, the illuminated cupholders and USB charging ports, the low center tunnel, and thirty (yes, 30) storage points. I just wish there are two foldable tables on the second row instead of just one but hey, other MPVs don’t even have one, so it’s a pass.

Tech-wise, I love how Hyundai specced the mid- and top-spec variants with cruise control, which should be very useful for those who frequent the highways like myself. The wireless Apple Carplay and wireless charging also make for a great combo (though I’m not sure if the story’s the same for Android users).

Driving Manners

The Stargazer is powered by a 1.5-liter normally aspirated gasoline engine that makes 113 hp and 144 Nm of torque. These numbers are at par with the MPV stalwarts, though the Hyundai begs to differ with its Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) or the automaker’s version of CVT.

Just like the exterior, the Stargazer’s road manners are not pretentious. It’s comfortable and convenient to drive and it doesn’t ooze with too much oomph. With seven adults aboard, it does its job well, though I could wish for a little torque at times. However, I’ll reserve my final judgment in this regard in my full review.

Handling’s a cinch as well since the steering’s light but the left blind spot could be a problem for tight left turns – again, more on this in the full review. NVH insulation, at least with the cemented roads we tested the Stargazer in, was superb without crossing the bounds of being floaty.

Initial Verdict

The popularity of MPVs isn’t limited to the Philippines. In fact, the Stargazer has already ranked 8th in sales in Indonesia despite only entering the Southeast Asian market in July. With the mentioned impressions in this article and the P998,000 price tag for the entry GL variant, we won’t be surprised if the Stargazer will rank high in the charts after its official launch in November. 

But as always, pricing is vital, so if you’re interested, you can wait until November 8 for a clearer view of the Stargazer’s sticker price. Or you can jump-start the process by pre-ordering, which has officially started as of this writing.

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