SnowsBest car review: Hyundai ix35

SnowsBest puts the Hyundai ix35 through it’s paces on a drive to Thredbo.

Let’s start by saying I’m no auto journalist but I know what I like when I drive long distances.

Comfort is number one (did someone say coffee cup holders and handsfree?) power is number two though it must come with cruise control so I don’t lose what minor points I have remaining on my licence and number three it must grip the tar like road kill when I’m heading to the snow.

If you live in Australia and you ski or board then chances are you will at some stage have to get behind the wheel in order to hit the slopes. You can’t get much further north on the coast line without hitting open waters than where I live in Sydney so a drive to Thredbo is going to take me a good six hours, minimum.

Enter the Hyundai ix35.

Here’s what the brochure says.

Five star ANCAP safety rating, Downhill Brake Control, Hill Start Assist control, Vehicle Stability Management, reverse park assist sensors with rear view camera, Satellite Navigation with a seven inch touch screen, front fog lamps, seventeen inch alloy wheels, desk sensing headlights, LED positioning lamp, projector beam headlamps….

…..full auto dual zone climate control with external temperature display, push button start, rear mirror compass, heated side mirrors and rear glass, blue tooth and usb audio input for handsfree phone, six speakers, cruise control, 2x 12 volt power outlets, computer with distance to empty, six air bags, 4 cylinder a 2.0 or 2.4litre GDi, manual or six speed automatic with electronic sequential manual mode, on demand AWD and more.

Oh, and transverse front mounted driving front and rear wheels. I think that’s a good thing.

Here’s what I say.

I had a Hyundai Excel in my twenties. It got stolen, used in an armed robbery and then torched (no word of a lie). Anyone that says Hyundai’s have no grunt should speak to my thieves who clearly thought the 1.5 engine would make a damn fine getaway car.

My current car is a Golf GTi so you can tell I like a quick uptake and the Hyundai ix35 took me a bit of getting used to.

Crossing from a six speed manual to a six speed automatic was a bit testing, until I realised the reason I was chugging up the hill instead of roaring was because I wasn’t using the automatic gears properly.

Drop the gears down as you head up the incline and the Hyundai had more than enough power to get me and my mega luggage (I don’t travel light) up any gradient. In fact this is how I ended up driving the ix35 the whole way, using the electronic sequential manual mode to my own advantage.

I am impatient and thought the car took too long to switch speeds on it’s own so I gave it a nudge whenever I felt my ADD coming on and it drove like a smooth soft serve at the end of a hot Bondi day.

Let’s talk about comfort

The body is more compact than the giant Euro QEII style cars that infest the roads of Thredbo which meant less manoeuvring.

The heated leather seats came in very handy once I noticed the outside temperatures had dropped down to single digits on the car display.

Coffee cup dispensers actually held a decent sized cup in place securely and there was enough room with the seats down to pile in a double ski bag, large suitcase, duffle bag, backpack and groceries and still feel really spacious.

Sat Nav got me out of Sydney to the freeway in a rather confused manner (I was new to this) but between the in car navigation and my iPhone app I got there and hands free meant I was never really driving alone. The sound system didn’t distort when I pumped up my driving playlist, though I am sure my singing voice did.


However the compass on the rear vision mirror confused me. There’s a little LED display saying NE, S, SW, E etc depending on which direction you are heading. I just know I want to go south so kept freaking when I wasn’t.

What about petrol?

In my opinion this is the best part (well, this and the swanky leather interior). A full tank cost me $89 and got me from Macquarie Park in Sydney the whole way to Thredbo. That’s $180 return. Try getting a flight for that price.

Plus the computer showed how many kilometres I had left to empty.

So, power sorted. Let’s talk about traction.

A simple touch of the button switches the car from 2WD to AWD though there was some discussion about whether an AWD needs chains at the snow.

One guy said ‘yes’ another said ‘no’ and the folks I asked at various visitor centres along the way were just as confused as I. Road signs said 4WDs didn’t need them but nothing about AWD, which I had always thought was the same thing, right?

So I grabbed some from Rhythm Snowsports in Cooma on the way down. Which was a good thing because while I’ve written about fitting them I’ve never done them myself.

Rhythm have this really cool ‘fitting’ station inside the store where you can practice putting chains onto a tyre they have set up there for folks like me.

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Still confused? Check out their video of fitting chains to an actual car here.

But back to the Hyundai ix35.

I was in Thredbo during a snow storm so the car had to handle snow banks and snow laden roads. The wheels only spun forward once, and that’s when my spacial awareness (or lack of it) meant I launched off a snow lip rather than a road way.

All credit to the Hyundai, it reversed with pure aplomb (no spinning) while the bus driver waiting to my left just laughed at me.

How much?

From $26 990 to $40 990 depending on model (there are a few including a gutsy Highlander) and options.

Would I buy it?

If I had kids and a dog and wanted an SUV but didn’t have the big dollars then yes. The price range is decent, the tank economical and it is not as in your face as larger SUVs, but I would go the 2.4litre for extra power.

Hyundai provided Rachael Oakes-Ash with a Hyundai ix35 text drive vehicle

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.


  1. We had a Hyundai Tucson from 2006-2010. Then we got the IX35 in the Turbo Diesel (we have the series 1, you tested the series 2). In May or lease finished. And we bought it outright. We love it. A lot. It does everything we want really really well.


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