To a confusing array of sedans, trucks and crossovers, prepare for the upcoming inventory of hybrid, plug-in hybrids and all-electric EVs. Please. From BMW’s i3 with available range extender to Chevrolet’s Volt and all-electric Bolt, we are about to be whiplashed by more alternative modes of transport than the Trump administration has. Choice – of course – is good, but to make that intelligent choice you need an informed decision. Here, then, is the ‘informed’.
While dabbling in the hybrid arena, Hyundai hasn’t made a full court press into alternative propulsion…until now. And ‘now’ is the formal introduction of its Ioniq hybrid, plug-in hybrid and dedicated EV. In a regional press intro near DC I enjoyed a brief drive in the hybrid; more recently, we were supplied the EV for a week. With its all-electric Ioniq the Korean carmaker bucks the recent trend toward range optimization. Nissan’s Leaf promises to boost its range beyond the sub-100 mile range currently offered, Chevy’s Bolt is the first to supply 200+ miles at a window sticker of under $40K, and the Chevy Volt supplies one-car practicality with an EV-only range of 50 miles, plus – of course – unlimited driving given a real gas tank and responsive gas powertrain.
So, into this maelstrom comes Hyundai, supplying a reasonable range of about 130 miles with optimal efficiency. Hyundai looked at a typical commuting cycle, the increased availability of charging stations at both work and shopping venues, and real-world needs of the typical EV intender. The end result is an eminently practical combination of virtues, wrapped in a contemporary package and offering an of-this-century dynamic. It ain’t Tesla’s Model 3, but it’s an attractive proposition – and there’s no waiting!
EXTERIOR: If Toyota were evolving its Prius in a traditional – and not disruptive – manner, the result would probably be something similar to Hyundai’s Ioniq. Finished in Electric (of course…) Blue Metallic, the Ioniq’s relatively clean design, along with the occasional stylistic flourish, is perfectly appropriate to any garage and lifestyle despite what Hyundai describes as a ‘future focused’ character. Mods made to the EV include a cleaned-up front grille (no need for engine cooling), HID Xenon headlamps with Dynamic Bending Light and unique 16-inch ‘eco-spoke’ alloy wheels.
Functionally, the end result is a .24 coefficient of drag, a number fully appropriate to maximizing the range of any EV.
INTERIOR: You will, of course, find plastic – but you’ll also find leather seating surfaces in our Ioniq Electric Limited. This wasn’t an Audi, but neither was it the Hyundai of a decade ago. The Ioniq enjoys a conventional layout relative to what’s delivered by Toyota’s Prius or Tesla, but the info is readily available and always intuitive. There’s also a surprising sense of space inside, given the Ioniq’s relatively taut dimensions outside. We liked the Ioniq sizing, offering what seemed to be utility similar to a midsize Accord, Camry or Sonata, along with the more maneuverable footprint of a compact sedan or hatch.
PERFORMANCE: You’ve heard, of course, of range anxiety. And without benefit of a high capacity charger in our garage, we ventured out for an errand here, a kid drop there before embarking on a crosstown appointment with 75 miles showing on the Ioniq’s range indicator. The nav indicated a roundtrip of 62 miles, and given what you hear about available range changing as you get further along in the trip we were mildly apprehensive; the a/c is on, the freeway is moving so there’s little regenerative charging with braking, and it’s 62 miles!
In short, we needn’t have worried. We arrived back at home with 14 miles left, slightly better than the trip mileage would have indicated. The negative, of course, is that once you’ve drained that much of an EV battery’s capacity, in the absence of a high capacity/240 volt charger you’ll take a full day to bring the Ioniq back to its 125 mile (or so) range. If you own an EV this won’t be an issue because you’ll have secured a charger, but in the absence of the charger it might have been an issue.
With a base price of just under $30K, and applying the $7,500 tax credit (while still available from a Trump administration and Republican Congress), the Ioniq EV seems like a screaming deal – if, of course, an EV could scream. Our Limited trim, with an additional $3,500 of Ultimate packaging, came in at $37K, which would make for a transaction price of just under $30,000. As this is written the Ioniq EV is only available in California, but you can be sure Hyundai is moving toward distribution on both coasts and in the country’s large metro areas.
With our one week behind the wheel of Hyundai’s new Ioniq we were impressed. But if considering a purchase or lease we’d suggest keeping it longer, and by extension, enjoying it more.