2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

Styling

The Hyundai Ioniq is a sporty hatchback. It was designed to fit in with Hyundai’s mainstream line-up of vehicles—including the pleasant Elantra and Sonata models. If you like the looks of those Hyundai cars, you will appreciate the Ioniq.

Unlike the quirky visual appearance of some plug-in vehicles, Hyundai did not try to make the Ioniq stand out as being exceptionally green or high-tech. The Ioniq is arguably the best looking affordable plug-in car on the market.

The success of the Ioniq’s design is how it manages the industry’s leading aerodynamics while keeping a handsome and athletic appearance. Despite using the familiar teardrop profile of other green cars, you would never suspect that the Ioniq’s drag coefficient is a slippery 0.24 cd. Shoppers would be advised to evaluate the looks of the Ioniq compared to the most popular plug-in hybrids, the Toyota Prius Prime and Chevrolet Volt.

The Ioniq might not win fans as the coolest-looking car on the road. But it deserves recognition for an attractive semi-sporty appearance and clean lines—including a solid and sturdy back-end treatment that integrates the spoiler with the rear glass hatchback.

Performance

Reviewers give high marks for the Hyundai Ioniq as a very efficient car that’s also fun to drive. For years, Hyundai has been committed to using a traditional geared transmission in its hybrids, rather than a CVT (which can delay a quick response from the accelerator pedal). The result is the Ioniq’s “normal” driving feel in which you feel revving and shifting from one gear to the next.

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

The Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid uses the same 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine as it employed in the no-plug Ioniq Hybrid. It produced 104 horsepower and 109 pound-feet of torque. The six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox combines with an electric motor to manage propulsion from electric, combustion, or combined power sources. Combined total system output is a decent 139 horsepower.

The plug-in hybrid Ioniq’s 60-horsepower electric motor provides enough oomph for all-electric operations—offering more electric power than the 43-horsepower motor used in the conventional no-plug Ioniq Hybrid.

As with many plug-in cars, there are multiple modes: EV, HEV Hybrid, and Sport. This will enable drivers to adjust the power output to the desired level. It will also allow some level of control regarding how easily and frequent the gasoline engine is brought into service. Some purists might believe the Ioniq uses more gasoline than absolutely necessary. However, Ioniq’s remarkable efficiency speaks for itself—and is an achievement considering the suitability of the plug-in hybrid model as a pleasant and capable daily commuter.

Efficiency/Range

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

In the plug-in hybrid version of the Ioniq, an 8.9 kilowatt-hour battery pack provides enough stored energy for about 27 miles of all-electric driving. Of course, a light foot on the accelerator will extend that range, while a sportier touch will consume the energy more quickly.

The all-electric range is in keeping with the Prius Prime’s 25-mile distance. The Chevrolet Volt is at the top of the class with 53 miles of all-electric range, with the midsize Honda Clarity falling closely behind with 47 miles of range. Official EPA efficiency numbers are not yet available, but we expect real-world fuel economy to exceed 50 miles per gallon after the 8.9-kWh battery pack is depleted.

Charging

Fully charging the battery pack should take about 2.5 hours when plugged into a Level 2 240-volt charging station. That’s standard for today’s plug-in hybrids.

Passenger/Cargo Room

Hyundai extended its straightforward design philosophy to the Ioniq’s interior. The dashboard gauges are simple and easy to read. The seven-inch center touchscreen does not dominate the dash—as is found with oversized tablet-like controls in competing models.

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

The Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid comfortably seats five passengers. By comparison, the Volt’s backseat is a squeeze for five adults, and the Prius Prime is strictly a four-seater. The interior feels comfortable and functional. Cabin controls are easy to access. Little to no cargo space was compromised to make room for the bigger battery pack. The Ioniq’s interior space is more generous than other affordable plug-in vehicles, including the C-Max, which is considered a small utility. Critics say the front seats are somewhat short, and that headroom in the backseat is tight.

Standard equipment is generous. The list includes LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights, LED taillights, heated side mirrors, and keyless entry. Dual-zone climate control is included as well, plus heated front seats and a seven-inch center touchscreen that supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Wireless Qi charging is optional, as is a larger eight-inch touchscreen.

Safety

The Ioniq has not yet been tested for safety. The list of advanced safety features includes emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Price

Hyundai has not yet announced pricing for the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid—but said that it will be competitive with the Prius Prime, which starts at $28,000. The conventional hybrid version of the Ioniq starts around $23,000, while the pure EV version is set at $29,500 (before incentives).

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

Comparison with Similar Cars

The Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrids falls short of its three prime competitors—the Chevy Volt, Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, and Prius Prime—regarding all-electric range. But for drivers who like the mainstream visual design, and who don’t want to sacrifice a conventional feel from behind the wheel, the Hyundai Ioniq is worth considering.

That’s even more true for those who can plug in at work, or have relatively short commutes. In those cases, the overall efficiency of the Ioniq Plug-in could come very close to what the competition offers. The fuel economy for long-distance driving (after the plug-in hybrid battery is depleted) should beat the competition—making it a very efficient road-trip car.

Driver satisfaction matters just as much as efficiency. The Ioniq offers a compelling combination of good looks, comfort, and decent all-electric range.

Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid specifications

Availability: 2018
Base MSRP: TBD
Est. tax credit: $2500
Technology: Plug-in Hybrid
Body type: Sedan
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 27 miles electric + gasoline
Battery size: 9 kWh
Charging rate: 3.0 kW

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