Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid

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

The Hyundai Ioniq is unique in that it's one of the few cars available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric model. Originally launched in 2016, this year's Ioniq has updated styling and technology, and starts at $24,195 including destination. It's plenty frugal, but don't expect too many thrills. This is one hybrid that definitely prioritizes economy and comfort over any sort of fun.

For this review, I have the standard Ioniq Hybrid in its range-topping Limited trim, which has an impressive EPA fuel economy rating of 55 miles per gallon combined. SE, SEL and a higher-efficiency Blue model are also offered, the last of which ups the fuel economy rating to 58 mpg.

The Ioniq's styling tweaks work well, with a new mesh grille, sleek headlamps and updated LED rear lighting -- tweaks that arrived for the 2020 model year. It doesn't scream, "Hey, I'm a hybrid!" like a Toyota Prius, and I like that. But it still has a bit of style that sets it apart from a Honda Insight or Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

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The Good ~ Excellent fuel economy ~ Lots of cargo space ~ Attractive appearance

The Bad ~ Dark interior ~ Mediocre handling ~ Many driver-assistance features aren't standard.

The Bottom Line The 2020 Hyundai Ioniq hybrid isn't flashy or fun, but its fuel economy and price may win you over.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 7.5
  • Features 6.5
  • Design 7.5
  • Media 8

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