Hyundai Ioniq

Style

The Hyundai Ioniq is a sporty hatchback. It was designed to fit in with Hyundai’s mainstream line-up of vehicles—like the Elantra and Sonata. Hyundai did not try to make the Ioniq stand out as being exceptionally green or high-tech. From our perspective, the Ioniq is one of the best looking, affordable electric cars on the market, along with the Volkswagen E-Golf.

The success of the Ioniq’s design is how it manages the industry’s leading aerodynamics while keeping a quasi-athletic appearance. You would never suspect that the Ioniq’s drag coefficient is a slippery 0.24 cd. Making a car to slip through air necessitates a Prius-like curved roofline. Nonetheless, there’s a solid and sturdy feel in the back, thanks to the spoiler’s integration with the rear glass hatchback.

The EV version of the Ioniq doesn’t need the open grille found in the hybrid variants. The flat black fascia provides a clean appearance—with a visual accent from the LED low-beam front headlamps and rear combination lamps.

The Ioniq’s style benefits from its length. The Ioniq EV is slightly longer than the Nissan LEAF and a full 12 inches longer than the squat Chevy Bolt.

Hyundai Ioniq

This Hyundai chart is a couple years old, but helps compare the Ioniq's dimensions with competing EVs.

Performance

Power from the Ioniq’s 88-kW (118 horsepower) electric motor is not quite as strong as most of the EV competition. But all electric cars, including the Ioniq EV, have zippy torque from a standstill. So if you’ve driven a Tesla Model 3, LEAF, or similar small EV, you probably have a sense of the Ioniq’s performance. Put the Ioniq in Sport mode—as we did on a drive through the hills around Santa Barbara, Calif.—and you’ll be impressed by the car’s acceleration.

Don’t be misled when comparing the Ioniq Ev’s power specification with the Chevrolet Bolt. On paper, the Bolt’s maximum 200-horsepower motor sounds a lot faster than the Ioniq. The Ioniq EV’s electric motor is rated merely at 118 horsepower. At face value, that’s quite a bit meeker than the Chevy Bolt with its 200-hp motor or the 2019 Nissan LEAF, which this year saw a jump in power from 147 to 214 horses.

The critical metric for acceleration is torque, and the Ioniq’s 215 pound-feet compare more favorably to the competition. On back-to-back drives in the Ioniq and Bolt, the feel behind the wheel was similar. There were times that the Bolt’s power was mismatched to the car’s tall and short platform. The Bolt feels somewhat jittery (and quickly broke traction when pushed hard) compared to the Ioniq’s planted feel. The critical factor is not total power or torque, but the complete package—how the powertrain and vehicle dynamics work together to provide brisk yet confident acceleration and handling.

Car and Driver explains that the Ioniq is relatively light but has a low center of gravity. The car-enthusiast magazine said the Ioniq holds its own on curvy roads and has a “likable driving character.” However, opinions are divided. US News complained that the Ioniq EV “suffers from a bouncy, unconfident ride.”

What makes an EV a great-driving vehicle is not so much how it accelerates, but how it brakes. The Ioniq’s two paddle shifters that allow the driver to switch between four levels of regen braking adeptly provides more control. In a real innovation in the EV market, the touchscreen on the Ioniq allows the driver to determine which of four levels of regen braking are used in the Normal, Eco and Sport driving modes. In other words, if you want sporty acceleration and the most aggressive amount of braking in Sport mode, then you can set and save those dynamics. The driver can then set the Eco mode to have gradual acceleration and minimal regenerative braking. It’s a smart move to give the driver the ability to configure the drive feel as desired.

Hyundai did a great job of blending regenerative and friction brakes. The transitions are smooth and unnoticeable.

In all driving modes, the Ioniq provides forward “creep” from a standstill. (True one-pedal EV driving would have the car remain completely stationary with no feet on the pedals.) Nonetheless, the combination of paddle shifters (for changing regen levels on the fly), configurable drive modes, and capable motor makes for a good time on the road.

The 2019 Ioniq adds a driver-attention monitor and automatic high-beam headlights as new options. The battery’s state-of-charge can now be managed remotely from the Ioniq’s smartphone app.

Hyundai Ioniq

Efficiency/Range

The Ioniq has an official driving range of 124 miles—placing it in a small tier of so-called medium-range EVs with about 120 to 150 miles of range. The other models are the 125-mile Volkswagen E-Golf and the standard 150-mile Nissan LEAF. All three sell for about $30,000 before incentives. And all three lag behind models granting more than 200 miles of range for prices in the mid-$30,000s.

There’s little doubt that more range is better. But at what price? The Hyundai Kona’s 258 miles is more than double the Ioniq’s 124-mile range. Hyundai (and Nissan and Honda to some extent) make a compelling argument. In the same way that owners of conventional cars want to max out on horsepower or towing capacity but seldom use those capabilities, the driver of a Kona or Bolt will rarely utilize all of a battery pack’s range in a single day. About 98 percent of drivers have no intention of ever traveling more than 100 miles in a day—and the average daily commute is about 43 miles according to AAA.

Why pay more for an electric car with less cargo space, fewer features, and styling that you don’t love? Hyundai says that if you compare features—such as the quick charging port that is standard on the Ioniq—the Hyundai EV costs $7,000 less than the Bolt.

There are extenuating factors. If you live in a place with frigid weather, the range can drop by 30 percent or more on freezing days. So the Ioniq’s range could drop to below 100 miles in chilly weather. If you live in a warmer climate or have a short commute, that’s not an issue.

One thing’s for sure: The Ioniq is very efficient while offering a long list of features and desirable attributes (rather than achieving its efficiency by stripping content out of the car). Its EPA rating of 136 MPGe makes it the number one most efficient vehicle on US roads.

At the end of the day, if you like the Bolt’s looks or want a compact SUV like the Hyundai Kona, then the value of 230-plus miles of range is beyond question. And if you have deeper pockets, the Model 3 is the best-selling EV for a multitude of reasons.

But if you prefer the Ioniq’s combination of style and low price, then it deserves a spot on your shopping list.

Charging

The Hyundai Ioniq’s charging times are standard in the marketplace. You can add about 25 miles of range per hour using Level 2, 240-volt charging for an empty-to-full fill-up in about 4.5 hours.

The Ioniq also comes standard with 100-kW public Quick Charging via the SAE combo cord for refilling the battery to about 80 percent in 20 to 30 minutes. Long road trips in the Ioniq are a tricky proposition. You should expect to stop to recharge for about 30 minutes every two hours or so.

Hyundai Ioniq

Passenger/Cargo Room

The Ioniq offers a generous amount of interior space. For comparison, the Ioniq offers five more cubic feet than a Prius liftback.

We carefully eyed the cargo space, back to back and in person, for the Ioniq and the Bolt—and there’s no comparison. The Ioniq is significantly bigger—although it’s a matter degree considering that both cars are relatively small. The Ioniq also beats the Bolt in terms of dashboard layout, how the interior is organized, and the quality of materials (especially in the upper trim).

Some shoppers might designate the Bolt as the winner based on its larger dashboard touchscreen. But from our perspective, the Bolt feels cheaper, and its storage spaces are more scattered. Meanwhile, the Ioniq uses classier softer materials and metal accents. The Ioniq’s appointments are also a step above what Nissan uses in the LEAF. In what might seal the deal for some buyers, the Ioniq’s thoughtful interior design is offered with a sunroof option.

Edmunds says the Ioniq’s driver seat is as comfortable or “a tick above” its competitors. Reviewers consistently praise buttons and controls as logical and easy to use. The dashboard screen is relatively small but also intuitive.

The Ioniq comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless charging of smartphones. The driver info is displayed via a seven-inch high-resolution dashboard screen. The list of luxury touches includes memory power seats that make it easy to get in and out of the car.

Hyundai Ioniq

Safety

The hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Hyundai Ioniq were named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS gave the Ioniq the highest rating of Good in six crash tests and the second-highest rating of Acceptable for how well the headlights brighten the road ahead. Models equipped with the optional automatic emergency braking have a Superior rating for front crash prevention.

The model has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

All 2019 Ioniq models come standard with a rearview camera. The upper trim of the Ioniq EV comes with a long list of safety features including adaptive cruise control, driver attention monitoring, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, rear parking sensors, adaptive headlights, and automatic high beams.

Hyundai Ioniq

Price

Hyundai sells the Ioniq electric car starting at $31,200. After federal and state-based incentives, the effective price could drop into the low $20,000s. That’s a compelling entry price if you’re willing to forgo the latest driver-assist functions.

The base trim includes these standard features: 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, a rearview camera, heated side mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated height-adjustable front seats, and a 60/40 split-folding rear seatback. It also comes with a seven-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, and an audio system with satellite and HD radio, and USB and auxiliary input jacks.

The price for the Limited version of the Ioniq Electric jumps to $37,700—a significant increase of $6,500.

The Limited variant adds xenon headlights, power-folding side mirrors with puddle lamps, chrome exterior trim, a sunroof, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, driver-seat memory settings, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, interior ambient lighting, and (the essential) rear air vents. Infotainment upgrades include wireless device charging, a larger eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, and an eight-speaker Infinity audio system.

The Limited Ioniq EV also comes standard with adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and the other safety features previously mentioned.

As of August 2019, the Ioniq EV is only available in California Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Despite its merits, the long-term future of the 124-mile Ioniq Electric is uncertain. The Hyundai Motor Group, which includes the Kia brand, plans to introduce 44 electrified models by 2025. A new long-range dedicated EV platform is expected in 2020.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric specifications

Availability: Now
Base MSRP: $31200
Est. tax credit: $7500
Technology: Electric Vehicle
Body type: Sedan
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 124 miles pure electric
Battery size: 28 kWh
Charging rate: 7.0 kW

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