Unlike some electric and hybrid vehicles, the 2019 Hyundai Ioniq focuses more on affordability than luxury. Introduced for the 2017 model year, the Ioniq comes in three distinct forms: Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, and Electric.
Hyundai hasn’t changed much on the Ioniq for the 2019 model year, except for adding several valuable active-safety features to the Hybrid SEL version. They include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and a driver-attention warning.
A likable little hatchback, the Ioniq competes most directly with Toyota’s familiar Prius, and succeeds quite well. Hyundai has attempted to make it feel like a “normal” car, and it has succeeded.
Hybrid models are available in three trim levels: Blue, SEL, and Limited. Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Ioniqs come in base or Limited trim. Currently, Electrics are available only in California.
In the Hybrid, a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine produces 104 horsepower and 109 pound-feet of torque. Working with a 32-kw (43-horsepower) electric motor, it uses a 240-volt lithium-ion polymer battery and 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Plug-in Hybrid models use the same engine, tuned for maximum fuel-efficiency and fitted with a 44.5-kw (60-hp) electric motor. Instead of relying solely on the gasoline engine to recharge the battery while driving, they can be plugged into an electrical outlet to charge the 8.9-kwh (360-volt) battery. Operating solely on electric power, the Plug-in Hybrid can travel about 29 miles.
Electric models are powered by an 88-kw (118-horsepower) motor, using electricity supplied by a 28-kwh battery. Range is EPA-estimated at 124 miles, with energy consumption at 136 MPGe. Those figures could make Ioniq the most energy-efficient vehicle on today’s market. Total system output is 118 horsepower, versus 139 hp for Hybrid models.
Full crash-test data is not yet available, but initial findings are favorable. Naming Ioniq a Top Safety Pick, the IIHS gave it â€œGoodâ€ scores in every test. The NHTSA has not yet crash-tested an Ioniq.
Prices do not include $920 destination charge.
Hybrid Blue ($22,400) includes premium cloth upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, and 15-inch alloy wheels. The 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Hybrid SEL ($24,950) adds heated front seats, LED taillights, a power driver’s seat, 7.0-inch instrument cluster display, and paddle shifters. Newly standard active-safety features include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and driver-attention warning.
Hybrid Limited ($28,550) brings leather, LED interior lighting, a sunroof, high-beam assist, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Plug-in Hybrid ($25,350) is comparable in content to the Hybrid SEL model.
Plug-in Hybrid Limited ($29,350) is equipped similar to Hybrid Limited.
Electric ($29,815) comes with a pushbutton drive selector, 16-inch wheels, regenerative brake level control, heated front seats, automatic temperature control, and 7.0-inch touchscreen.
Electric Limited ($36,315) adds a host of active-safety features, including automatic emergency braking, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control. Leather upholstery is standard, with a power driver’s seat and navigation.
An Ultimate Package for Limited trim adds rear parking sensors, a driver-seat memory, 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, and adaptive headlights.
Hyundai’s Ioniq hides its environmentally-friendly technologies within a normal passenger-car shape. Each of the three versions has slightly different styling. Some components are shared with the Elantra sedan.
Body lines sweep neatly upward from front to rear, helping to curtail wind resistance and aerodynamic drag. Battery positioning helps give the Ioniq a lower center of gravity.
Stylish and tasteful, the front end features an open front fascia â€“ at least in Hybrid form. Neatly integrated headlights flank a conventional grille. Plug-in models get a more solid front end.
The Ioniq’s interior shuns any futuristic details. The only hints it’s a hybrid or electric car are that the customary shifter and parking-brake levers have been replaced by buttons and an interactive display.
Although overall seating space is somewhat snug, front seats are roomy enough and well-bolstered. Passengers sit low, but seat positioning is similar to that of Hyundai’s Elantra. Wide interior dimensions translate to an open, airy feel.
Rear-seat legroom suffices for two adults, but not quite three. Taller riders may feel closed-in by the sloping roofline.
Controls are intuitive, unlike some hybrid/electric rivals. Even in upper-priced trim levels, some plastic elements are evident.
Cargo space is constricted by the battery pack, though plenty of cubbies, bins, and cupholders await use. Cargo space measures 26.5 cubic feet on hybrids, while Plug-in and Electric versions provide 23.8 cubic feet.
In addition to qualifying among the most fuel-efficient vehicles, an Ioniq â€“ to the surprise of some â€“ is fun to drive. Hyundai has made it look and drive like any normal vehicle, led by a comfortable ride.
Acceleration is admittedly leisurely, but decent, despite comparatively scant power output. Low curb weight helps.
Each Ioniq delivers a smooth drive, demonstrating the high level of sophistication in Hyundai’s single-motor configuration. With no transmission, the Electric model is silky-smooth in every way.
Regenerative braking works well. Occasional blips may occur during transitions between regenerative braking, dual-clutch transmission shifts, and friction braking in hybrids.
Ioniq cabins are quieter than most. Engine revving is non-intrusive. The dual-clutch transmission helps stifle most stray engine noises, even under heavy acceleration.
Every Ioniq promises excellent efficiency. Hybrids are EPA-rated at 55/54 mpg City/Highway, or 55 mpg Combined. Estimates are higher for the Ioniq Blue (57/59/58 mpg), which has special, low-rolling-resistance tires.
The Electric model’s 124-mile range compares with Volkswagen’s e-Golf, but trails such competitors such as the Chevrolet Bolt. An energy-efficiency rating of 136 MPGe makes the Ioniq Electric the most efficient car sold in the U.S.
The Plug-in Hybrid isn’t far behind at 52 mpg combined, when operating as a conventional hybrid. It gets a 119 MPGe rating, but range is shorter than some competitors.
With the addition of standard automatic braking and active lane control to the Hybrid SEL, Hyundai raised the Ioniq’s value. Each regular Hybrid is strong on value, and more readily available than Plug-in and Electric mates.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.