The Hyundai Ioniq is essentially the Toyota Prius in their vehicle line-up. It’s available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid (starting 2018) and the one we have, full electric. That alone gives it an advantage over the current Prius line-up. On top of that, the Ioniq EV is by far the most appealing of the three variations. It offers better performance and is more enjoyable to drive.
After writing and reviewing cars for the past year or so, it has become quite clear why most publications are based in LA. The first day our Ioniq Electric arrived, it was snowing. This made it the ideal time to see how the Ioniq’s low roll-resistant eco tires handled in wet, cold conditions. It was a struggle. The Ioniq Electric’s instantaneous electric torque kept spinning the tires and the traction control was not able to compensate quickly.
Traction control systems are actually capable of adjusting power extremely quickly. Traditionally, this was a wasted opportunity since gasoline engines can not respond to the immediacy that these systems operate with. Tesla has perfected their traction control system, adjusting power and torque at 1000 times a second. Step on the throttle in a Model S, for example, and the computer knows exactly how much power to limit to maintain maximum acceleration even in slippery conditions. It seems as though Hyundai has yet to take advantage of an electric motor’s instant throttle response. However, a better set of tires would definitely help as well. These lower traction tires are good for range, so I understand the decision to fit them standard from the factory.
In drier conditions, the Ioniq was a blast to drive. The instant torque off the line made it very agile for city driving. I beat a Mercedes C63 AMG off the line at stop lights several times and they were not happy. Past 50 mph however, the Ioniq becomes a typical EV with less-than-average passing power on the freeway. There are three driving modes: Eco, Normal, and Sport. Eco has extremely numb throttle response, Normal is normal and Sport has a surprisingly responsive throttle. There are four levels of regenerative braking, including a fully off setting which I have never seen in an EV. The regenerative braking level is adjusted via the paddles behind the steering wheel. I kept it in the maximum regen setting as often as possible since I am used to driving EV’s.
In terms of handling, the Ioniq makes for a fun city car. It has fast steering with little dead spot on center. It’s electrically-assisted but has good weight, even if it doesn’t have much feedback. The brakes have mediocre feel, but still better than most EVs and hybrids. Typically in these types of cars, the brakes feel pretty mushy because they electronically link the physical brakes with the regenerative function of the electric motors. I had a issues with this when we tested the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid. The Ioniq handles pretty competently through corners thanks to its relatively light weight. The cabin is also rather quiet since there is no engine noise, but some wind noise does make its way into the cabin. The ride is decent but the rear torsion beam suspension makes for a rougher ride on uneven surfaces.
We have the Ioniq Electric Limited with the Ultimate Package. The Limited adds things like power leather seats with memory and LED headlights to the base trim. The Ultimate Package adds the Sunroof, Infinity Premium sound system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, and navigation. It also adds adaptive steering headlights but then becomes a Xenon system rather than LED. Why Hyundai would charge you more to downgrade LED headlights to Xenon ones is beyond me. Other than that, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across all trim levels. The 8-inch touchscreen is fairly easy to use and provides lots of information and tools to help you maximize range and plan your trips.
The interior is fairly well put together. The materials are what is expected for a compact car although they are significantly better than the Nissan Leaf. The steering wheel has great nine and three grips with a flat bottom as well. It’s very similar to the one in the Hyundai Elantra Sport. The Ioniq EV has buttons in the center console for changing gears, rather than a lever in the hybrid versions. This opens up additional storage space below the center dash.
The Ioniq Electric does not look too radically different from a typical compact car and this is a good thing. All too often, manufacturers feel the need to make their eco-friendly cars wildly different and often quite unattractive compared to their full gasoline counterparts. The Ioniq offers unoffensive styling and is even borderline handsome from some angles. I did not feel embarrassed driving it.
Living with an EV:
I added this section since I figured it’d be important to note what it was like living with an electric vehicle. Everything else I covered would be irrelevant if the Ioniq Electric had a miserable range and made my commute inconvenient. The Ioniq EV has a rated range of 124 miles and it’s actually a fairly accurate rating. On the first day, I drove about 41 miles which used up 52 miles of rated range. I drove in Sport mode flooring it everywhere and had the heater on with the music on loud. All the while, it was snowing outside with temperatures in the low 30’s. Therefore, realistic range with someone that doesn’t have a heavy foot, like myself, should be right around the 110 to 120 mile range. This is more than enough for a vast majority of people. Often times, people assume they need 200, maybe even 300 miles of range but the reality is that most people’s commute is around 20-40 miles. Therefore, the Ioniq’s range should be more than enough, even for unplanned trips during the day, whether rain, shine or snow. This is not even accounting for the fact that there are more and more charging stations for EV drivers to top off at when they are shopping at the mall, or parking at work.
It is worth noting, however, that these EV charging stations are operated by several different companies, all of which have their own membership card. Our Ioniq EV came from Hyundai with a ChargePoint subscription card which works at most charging stations. However, there were also places where I would’ve liked to charge but those stations were operated by Blink. All charging stations, including Blink and EVgo, require a specific membership card for that specific network except for ChargePoint. With ChargePoint, you can use Apple or Android Pay on your phone to start charging. That said, a proper subscription card with ChargePoint will give you a better price in most cases.
The Ioniq Electric is a great vehicle for the daily commute. It’s quick in the city, fun to drive, and inexpensive to run. You can charge overnight or at work and never have to visit a gas station again. Its range is more than enough for most people’s commute which means you aren’t making sacrifices by going green. With it’s high starting price of $30,335 and the rapid advancement of electric vehicle battery technology, a lease on the Ioniq EV would make the most sense. It doesn’t entirely replace your existing gas vehicle, especially when it comes to long trips, but it’s a vehicle that will keep your wallet happy without making you, the driver, miserable. If only it were available outside of California.
Realistic Range Estimation
Great Low-Speed Pick Up
Lots Of Standard Features
Dynamic Bending Lights Not Available with LED's
Poor Passing Power At Freeway Speeds
Engine: 360V 88kW Interior-Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor
Torque: 218 lb-ft
Transmission: Single-Speed Reduction Gear
Range: 124 Miles (136 MPGe)
Wheelbase: 106.3 in
Curb Weight: 3,285 lbs. (Limited Trim)
Base Price: $30,335 (Incl. Destination)
Price as Tested: $36,835