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March 18, 2023

Review: 2023 Hyundai Stargazer 1.5 GLS Premium IVT

The compact MPV segment is probably going to be the most hotly contested segment from now on. With sub-compact or B-segment cars, as they’re officially known, becoming more expensive, these small 7-seaters have become the default choice for many as their starter family car. True enough, look around you and chances are, you’ll see at least one (or maybe five) parked at your local village, school, or workplace.

Now under the direct supervision of Korea, Hyundai, you could say, is late to the game with their Stargazer. No matter, because they’ve come up with the gold standard when it comes to ferrying Filipino families on a modest budget. Modest, of course, is relative since the Stargazer starts at P 1.038 million and tops out at P 1.258 million for the GLS Premium—the very variant on feature here. It seems it’ll cost you a pretty penny, but it scores very high on value.

Getting to the meat of the matter, the Stargazer is a solid drive. The basic framework doesn’t stray far from the compact MPV formula because of regional (read: Indonesian) legislation. With that, there are no surprises: it rides on a unibody platform powered by a 1.5-liter engine driving the front wheels.

What the Stargazer lacks in engineering originality, it more than makes up for in the tuning. The resulting MPV is one that manages to combine the best elements of all others, drive-wise.

The engine’s quite punchy. It doesn’t take much revs to get this 1,272-kilogram 7-seater going, and pair that with Hyundai’s ace in the hole—the Intelligent Variable Transmission—and you’ve got a winner. With up to four people aboard, there’s little need to wring the life out of the Stargazer. It will move, and will move with gusto. Moreover, the throttle is easily modulated and doesn’t feel tippy. Best of all, the powertrain combo means it delivers best-in-class, as-tested fuel economy: up to 12 km/L in the city (23 km/h). A tankful of Petron XCS, boosts that figure up to 13.51 km/L in lighter traffic (28 km/h), perfect to make the most out of every drop. An added bonus is that it’s got the best NVH isolation among compact MPVs.

Meanwhile, the Stargazer’s chassis toes the line perfectly between handling and ride. Again, the expectations for a compact MPV in terms of driving fun are, admittedly, low, but here, it’s pleasantly cushy. With its tire pressure pumped up to 36 PSI (the recommended level when it’s fully loaded), it’s still on the soft side, with just a hint of jarring from the stiff tires. Whether with one or four people aboard, it soaks up the worst terrain you could imagine in the city, be it road cracks, potholes, and even the occasional ninja (unpainted) speed humps. Admittedly, the steering isn’t the sharpest around, but what it gives up on reflexes, it returns with a balanced experience. Push it through corners, and your arm movements are largely translated to the limits of what the softly-sprung chassis could do. On the highway, it tracks straight with no hints of nervousness. Ultimately, it’s a great daily car with the ability to do long drives just as well.

Though the Stargazer doesn’t really push the envelope performance-wise, it does manage to turn heads with its unique design. The exterior is polarizing, but if it was Hyundai’s intention to offer individuality, they’ve nailed it here. The full-width seamless LED piece that combines the DRLs (the corners) and park lights (the middle part) make the “Baby Staria” design unmistakable, as does the H-shaped rear LED lamp cluster, again with a full-width motif. It’s a shame, but they’ve opted to outfit this top-the-line variant with halogen front fog lights when LED units would have cemented its futuristic transformation.

Since a lot’s going on with the Stargazer’s exterior, there’s one aspect that often escapes people’s attention: the one-curve design. Compared to the conventional two-box shape of other MPVs, Hyundai seamlessly combined the hood with the rest of the body by using just one line. Together with the decision to veer away from any sort of unpainted cladding it makes the entire design look taut, perhaps at the expense of making those 16-inch wheels look tiny.

The Stargazer’s one-curve design also has one, maybe unintended, consequence: poor front visibility. With the driver’s seat adjusted to what I consider the ideal position, the hood simply drops from view making it hard to judge the front overhangs. It’s almost always a bane to park nose-first, especially when you’re trying to avoid hitting those bump stops. If there’s a car that desperately needs front clearance sensors, it’s this. Moreover, the sharply angled A-pillars and miniscule quarter windows mean on-coming pedestrians, riders, and cyclists will get obscured from view for a split-second. It’s imperative to take a mental note of all oncoming traffic sooner than later here to prevent any potential surprises or worse.

The futuristic exterior also happens to dictate the design of the Stargazer’s dashboard. It starts out thick and high—as most dashboards do—only to taper and flatten about a third of the way. This reduces the potential visual bulk, but also happens to give one of this interior’s trademark features: storage spaces. Hyundai calls it “Multifunctional Storage Space,” and there’s so many in here that you’ll lose count. Most of them are quite useful like the center and armrest console, but some are questionable like the parcel shelf above the AC controls that spans half the length of the dashboard, and some are plain useless like the hidden lidded storage by the AC vents. Whatever the case, at least they’ve maximized what they could with the compact footprint, and this level of storage flexibility might come in handy for families.

Ergonomically, the Stargazer’s mixed. Most will find the instrument binnacle controversial, and with its thick bezel, it is, visually at least. Though some will find staring at a piece of blank gray plastic annoying on a daily basis, at least it doesn’t take away from the already limited forward visibility. The gauge cluster itself is quite easy to understand, even if the execution is more cheap than futuristic. The large, calculator-like digits are framed by a colored ring that change their concentric number (based on accelerator pressure) and drive mode (Eco, Normal, Sport, Smart). The biggest flaw to the entire interior experience, however, is Hyundai’s haphazard way of switching from right- to left-hand drive. Most control banks—the handbrake location, infotainment, and AC controls are all right-hand drive leftovers. A shortcoming because one: the Creta did the RHD to LHD switch right, and second, because the driving position’s one of the best in its class.

Space-wise, it’s hard to fault the Stargazer too. Flexibility could be its middle name with a second row that slides and relines in a 60/40 split, and a third row that reclines in a 50/50 split. Even with the third row up, the cargo space is okay for a couple of duffel bags and grocery, but fold both the second and third row seats down, and you get a long, continuous load space. Even better, it gets something that neither the Creta nor the Tucson—two more expensive Hyundais—get: three-point seatbelts for all. If only the Stargazer had a headrest for the middle second row passenger, it would have been perfect.

Hyundai’s decision to outfit the Stargazer with proper seatbelts for all shows their uncompromising approach to family safety. This range-topping GLS Premium not only has a full suite of airbags, ABS, stability control, and tire pressure sensors, but it also has Hyundai’s SmartSense driver assist feature—something the Tucson doesn’t even get. Better still, the system’s not all forward facing (forward collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam, lead car notification), but also watches from the side (lane keep assist), and the back (blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and safe exit). It can be overly nannying at times, but at least the volume level can be adjusted and some functions can be switched off individually.

After all’s said and done, Hyundai may be late to the compact MPV race, but they’ve come with a potential race winner here. The Stargazer may not offer anything significantly different in terms of mechanicals, but taken as a whole, this 7-seater MPV scores high in actual real-world usability and comfort. It’s not designed to rule the spec sheets, but it’s engineered to fit the requirement of Filipino families. And ultimately, that’s the aspect that matters the most.

2023 Hyundai Stargazer 1.5 GLS Premium

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Bottom Line
Pros Polarizing design, frugal, flexible interior, great value.
Cons Polarizing design, poor front visibility, some questionable ergonomics.
TL;DR Hyundai may be late to the compact MPV game, but they've come up with a solid offering here.
Year Introduced 2022
Warranty 5 years / 200,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type Compact MPV
Seating 7
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders Inline-4
BHP @ rpm 115 @ 6,300
Nm @ rpm 144 @ 4,500
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / ~91
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy (km/L) @ Ave. Speed (km/h) 12.04 km/L @ 23 km/h,
13.51 km/L @ 28 km/h
(fueled with Petron XCS)
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,460
Width (mm) 1,780
Height (mm) 1,695
Wheelbase (mm) 2,780
Curb Weight (kg) 1,272
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Ventilated Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Parking Brake Hand-Type
Tires Kumho Solus HS63 205/55R16 (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR w/ pre-tensioners x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3 (2nd row),
3-pt ELR x 2 (3rd row)
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Forward Collision Avoidance Assist
Lane Keep Assist
Lane Following Assist
Lead Car Notification
Blind-spot Collision-avoidance Assist
Rear Cross-traffic Collision-avoidance Assist
Safe Exit
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front (Halogen)
Light Operation Auto On/Off
Wiper Operation Variable Intermittent
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 6-Way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-Way
Seating Surface Leatherette
2nd Row 60/40 Split-Fold, Reclining, Sliding, w/ Armrest
3rd Row 50/50 Split-Fold, Reclining
Sunroof None
Multi-Information Display Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Day/Night
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Manual, Front and Rear, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. I think the GAC GN6 MPV w a 1.5 turbo engine should also be given consideration.

    1. A person looking at the stargazer wouldn't cross shop it with a Chinese car

    2. Well, GAC is a Chinese brand, but it has partnerships with 3 formidable Japanese brands: TOYOTA, HONDA, and MITSUBISHI.

    3. Partnership with this companies doesn't mean their cars will be at par with them in terms of quality.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. GAC vs Hyundai? It's like comparing Apple iPhones to Nokia 3210s.

  2. Am Wondering why hyundae ph dont have sales/discount promo on its website. Other car brands have sales promo

  3. Torn between stargazer and veloz. 🙃

    1. I own both get the stargazer. Veloz is too bare inside.


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