Hyundai IONIQ Electric

Hybrids achieve their eye-opening fuel economy through their advanced drivetrains and their ability to match an electric motor with a conventional gasoline engine. The Ioniq starts with a fuel efficient 1.6L 4-cylinder engine mated to a 43 horsepower electric motor. Combined, they make 139 horsepower which is then sent to the front wheels. While most other hybrids use a continuously variable transmission for maximum efficiency, Hyundai deemed the odd "rubber band" feeling produced by acceleration with a CVT unacceptable from a driving dynamics standpoint. Besides, they reasoned they could hit their mileage target without using one anyway. Instead, a sports-car style dual-clutch automated manual was utilized in the Ioniq, producing quick, precise gear changes, and reduces much of the sluggishness and numbness common in many hybrid vehicles.

Hyundai also utilizes the same gearbox in their plug-in Ioniq, which again uses a 1.6L gasoline engine, but supplements it with a more powerful electric motor. Range on the plug-in hybrid will be around 27 miles, after which the gasoline engine kicks in to recharge the batteries automatically and the car begins to function more or less like the standard hybrid.

Lastly, select markets get a fully electric version of the Ioniq. It uses a 118 horsepower electric motor exclusively. Maximum range on the Ioniq electric is 124 miles, which should be fine for most commutes.

The standard Ioniq Hybrid is available in three different trim levels: Blue, SEL and Limited. Standard features across the Ioniq Hybrid lineup include a 7-inch color display touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and bluetooth built in, a rearview camera, steering wheel mounted audio and cruise control, automatic projector beam headlights, a 4.2-inch LCD instrument display, dual-zone automatic temperature control, SiriusXM satellite radio and HD radio.

The midlevel SEL adds several safety and convenience features. SEL versions get a Blind Spot Detection system, along with a rear cross-traffic alert system, heated front seats, a power driver's seat, LED daytime running lights and LED taillights, heated side mirrors with turn signals built in, a leather wrapped steering wheel, a nicer rear armrest with built in cup holders and some additional chrome work around the windows and interior door handles.

The top of the line Limited gets nicer 17-inch alloy wheels, a tilt and slide sunroof, leather seating surfaces, HID headlights, an electronic auto-dimming rearview mirror with a built in garage door opener, LED lights on the interior and automatic windows.

Editors' Review

In a world where EVs are able to hit 300 miles per charge, and where sub-5-second 0-to-60-mph times are normal, Hyundai's Ioniq Electric might seem like a bit of an also-ran. But despite its modest performance and general lack of flash, it's a car that's worth considering -- especially as a first EV.

With the Ioniq Electric, what you see is what you get: An unassuming battery-electric hatchback from a well-known and respected manufacturer. It offers little in the way of virtue signaling for those who want the world to know they bought an EV, but with 170 miles of range and a sub-$35,000 price tag (including destination), it presents a fairly painless and accessible path to EV ownership for those who care more about doing good than looking good.

The little electric Hyundai is powered by a single permanent-magnet electric motor that offers up 134 horsepower and 218 pound-feet of torque. Not earth-shaking by any means, but totally adequate for daily use. That motor drives the front wheels via a single-speed reduction gear -- pretty standard fare for most EVs.

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The Good ~ Usable 170-mile range. ~ DC fast-charging standard. ~ Good infotainment. ~ Lots of cargo space.

The Bad ~ Looks a little boring. ~ Limited trim is a less attractive value proposition.

The Bottom Line Hyundai's little Ioniq Electric is a great car for first-time EV buyers.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 7
  • Features 8
  • Design 7
  • Media 8

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