The 2021 NEXO shows Hyundai's commitment to fuel cell vehicles. While their last such vehicle was based on the Tucson, Hyundai decided to give its replacement its own platform, with its own unique styling and interior to go along with its unique drivetrain. That drivetrain has also been improved since it was last seen; Hyundai claims 20 percent better acceleration for the NEXO along with a range that's estimated at 380 miles. Like most electric vehicles, the NEXO is nearly silent in its operation.
The NEXO comes in two different configurations, the base model dubbed Blue, as well as a more upscale Limited trim level. NEXO Blue models come standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED automatic headlights and daytime running lights, puddle lights, LED brake lights, and heated mirrors with LED turn signal indicators. Inside, standard features include an 8-way, power adjustable driver's seat, a 6-way power adjustable passenger seat, heated front seats, leatherette seating surfaces, a 12.3-inch touchscreen, Android auto and Apple CarPlay integration, Sirius XM Satellite radio, 3 USB jacks, power windows and door locks, Bluetooth controls located on the steering wheel and dual-zone automatic temperature controls.
The Limited trim adds 19-inch wheels, a power sunroof, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, a remote starter, a Krell 440-watt premium sound system, roof rails, rain-sensing wipers, and a hands-free liftgate.
Standard safety features on the NEXO include driver, passenger, side impact and curtain airbags, stability control and traction control systems, a forward collision avoidance assist system, blind spot warning lights, a lane-keep assist system, a rearview monitor, automatic high beams, front and rear parking sensors and an automatic cruise control system that is capable of operating in stop and go traffic.
We've been hearing for decades that hydrogen fuel-cell cars would be the future, but it's never really happened. Sure, there have been some limited-run production cars like the Honda FCX, as well as lots of. But right now, and only if you live in California, there are just three hydrogen-powered cars you can buy: the , and . After spending a week with a Nexo I can safely say that it's the best of the bunch. And if you can make hydrogen life work for you, it's a fantastic all-around crossover to boot.
First, a quick primer of how the Nexo actually works. The hydrogen fuel is stored in a tank under the floor of the car. That hydrogen gets sent to the fuel-cell stack, where it's combined with oxygen from the air intakes in an electrochemical reaction, creating electricity and water. A single motor on the Nexo's front axle uses that electricity to drive the front wheels, producing 161 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. The water is dumped out underneath the car, which you can also do on command at the press of a button (I'm not exactly sure why).
The EPA says the base Nexo Blue has a range of 380 miles, with the Nexo Limited (like my test car) getting a 354-mile range because of its larger wheels. That bests the range of every EV this side of a Tesla Model S, and it's even better than the total range of many gas-powered cars. I find the Nexo's range readout to be very accurate if not actually pessimistic at times; after 260 miles of driving I still have about a third of a tank left, with the Nexo saying I have around 120 miles of range. And unlike an electric car, refueling the Nexo at a hydrogen station takes just five minutes, like filling up a traditional car with gas, though .
The Good ~ Fantastic interior styling ~ Extremely quiet and composed ride ~ Long driving range ~ Tons of tech onboard
The Bad ~ Slow acceleration and no AWD ~ Filling up can be a pain ~ Only available in California
The Bottom Line If you can easily live with a hydrogen car, the Nexo should be top of your shopping list.
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