TEST DRIVE REVIEW – 2017 Hyundai Ioniq – Nice Car, If You Can Get One

By Michele Spencer
Hyundai Ioniq side
2017 Ioniq Electric Blue Metallic test vehicle, shown in Limited Trim.

Hyundai’s entry into the electric vehicle market is the Ioniq.  Its chief competitor is the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which is the top seller in the segment.  The Bolt EV’s MSRP is just under $30,000 after factoring in the federal and state tax rebates, and has a range of 238 miles.

Another competitor in the practical EV segment, the Honda Clarity EV, was recently put into dealerships, in Fall 2017 .  It is available on a lease-only basis, with a range of 89 miles.  While the 2016 Nissan Leaf had a range of 106 miles, the 2018 Nissan Leaf will have a range of 150 miles, with a starting price of $30,875.

It isn’t really fair to compare the Ioniq with a luxury all-electric vehicle such as the Tesla Model S, as it has a much higher MSRP and a completely different reason for its existence.

Comparison with the Model 3, which is supposed to have a $35,000 price tag, is impossible, as it has not rolled out of Fremont and into customers’ driveways yet.  In other words, people wanting to buy an EV today cannot get their hands on a Model 3, and probably won’t until at least mid 2018.  In addition, word on the street is that $35,000 will not get the Model 3 buyer very much, and the more realistic price will be $45,000.

In the meantime, the Ioniq’s starting / base trim level MSRP is $29,500.  Today’s tester, the Ioniq Limited, has an MSRP of $32,500, before federal and state rebates are applied, and a range of 124.  And it’s available.  Sort of.

During the test week with the Ioniq, the sales staff at a local dealership in Southern California told me they have about 2 deliveries per month and that Hyundai dealerships cannot keep them on the lot.  Adding to the problem is that only certain select Hyundai dealers are given Ioniqs to sell.  Once they hit the dealership, they are sold.  So if you want one, be prepared to locate a dealer and sit on a waiting list; Ioniqs are a hot commodity.

Hyundai’s EV comes with a lifetime electric battery warranty and the industry-leading powertrain warranty of 10 years/100,000 miles.  The Ioniq edges out the Bolt EV, the Clarity and the Leaf in the warranty department.

Hyundai Ioniq charging
The Ioniq charges for free at a hotel on its fast charge station.

The EPA-rated range is 124, but it can fully charge up to 136.  The city miles are 150, while highway is 122.  Electric vehicles (not just the Ioniq) normally get significantly less range at higher speeds, so they do better in slow speed driving conditions versus highway.   As such, the Ioniq Electric is recommended for those who drive less than 120 miles a day and have parking near an electrical outlet for overnight or at the workplace.

(Fun fact: People who work at the Hyundai corporate headquarters in Southern California have over 100 free charging stations available in the parking lot and are given employee discount pricing on their vehicles, to encourage daily hybrid and EV vehicle use.)

The tester came with the Ultimate Package ($3,500), which included a sunroof, automatic emergency braking, smart cruise control, lane departure warning, HID headlights with dynamic bending light function, navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen display, Infinity premium audio with 8 speakers, a wireless smartphone charging pad, and LED interior lighting.  The package is well worth it, especially because of the lane departure warning and upgraded headlights.

Both trim levels have brake regeneration, which is controlled through two paddles behind the steering wheel.  It takes a bit of practice, but it’s easy to learn the sequences to raise and lower the braking through three levels.  Regenerative braking uses the electric motor when decelerating or braking to transform vehicle motion (kinetic engery) into electrical energy to charge the high voltage batteries.

The Ioniq’s looks are very similar to its gas-engine brother, the Elantra.  The Ioniq is a four door sedan with a hatchback.   Available paint colors are Ceramic White, Symphony Air Silver, Black Noir Pearl, and Electric Blue Metallic (as tested).   The 40-60 split rear seats fold down for added room in the back compartment.

The ride is very quiet and comfortable and handling is very good.  The rear suspension is a coupled torsion beam axle.  Although only making 118 horsepower, the Ioniq does not lag when power is needed and comfortably rides at freeway speeds.  It moves nimbly from lane to lane.  As with the Bolt EV, there is no issue with drive performance whatsoever.

Vehicle Stability Management with traction control is included as standard equipment on both trims.

As tested, the brakes on the Ioniq felt much stronger than those on the Bolt EV.  In testing the Bolt EV, I needed a long braking range to come to a full stop, which was below expectations for any type of vehicle, whether electric, hybrid, or combustion engine.

Standard safety features include front, front side impact, side curtain and driver knee airbags, rear view camera, blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist, and tire pressure monitoring.

In the cabin, the driver’s seat is very comfortable. Drive modes are handled by push buttons situated in the center console.  The easy to use electronic parking brake is standard.   USB ports and a 12 volt plug in are well-located in the cabin, but no USB ports were found in the back seat area.  The Equinox has knobs available for the two major essential functions of air and audio controls, instead of touch screen management.

In comparison, all Tesla vehicles require the driver to divert attention away from the road for these and any other functions by using the touchscreen, making them inherently less safe.  (See the Consumer Reports study which came out this week.  Seems I’m not the only one who thinks scrolling through a screen to change the station or turn off the navigation system is a built-in distraction that is unacceptable.)

Charging can be done at a fast charging station or in the garage on either a 120 or 240 volt outlet, using the power cord that comes with the vehicle at no extra charge.  According to the Ioniq Owner’s Manual, it takes about 24 hours at room temperature to “trickle charge” to 100% on a 120 volt outlet and 4 hours 25 minutes to fully charge on a 240 volt outlet.

The Ioniq beats its segment competitors on price, battery warranty, and powertrain warranty.  For model year 2018, Hyundai will not make any changes.  In 2018, it will introduce a plug-in hybrid Ioniq that will have 27 miles of all-electric range and up to 650 miles with gasoline.

Hyundai’s practical EV has a lower price as the Bolt and could easily be a sales challenger if Hyundai had more Ioniqs in showrooms.  One thing’s for certain:  sign up on a wait list with Hyundai and you’ll have your Ioniq before your neighbor gets his Model 3 from Fremont.


2017 IONIQ ELECTRIC LIMITED Specifications

  • Type:  Electric vehicle, five door, hatchback
  • Final Assembly: Korea
  • Power: 88 kw Electric Powertrain; 28.0 kwh , 360 v Lithium Ion Polymer Battery
  • Single-speed automatic with push button drive mode selector
  • Horsepower: 118
  • Fuel Economy EPA Rating:  136 MPGe, 150 city, 122 highway.
  • Driving Range, EPA: 124 miles
  • Base and Limited Trim Colors:  Electric Blue Metallic, Ceramic White, Symphony Air Silver, and Black Noir Pearl
  • Interior, both trims:  Black
  • Driver and Passenger seat warmer function
  • Electronic Stability Control (Vehicle Stability Management, with traction control)
  • Braking:  ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution; Electronic Parking Brake; Regenerative Brake Level Control Paddles
  • Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection, Rear view back up camera
  • Warranties: 5 year/60,000 new vehicle warranty, 10 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, Lifetime electric battery warranty, 7 year/unlimited mile anti-perforation warranty, 5 year/unlimited mile roadside assistance, plus dealer limited warranties
  • Airbags:  Front, Front side, Side curtain, and Driver Knee
  • Exterior:  16 inch eco-spoke wheels
  • LED headlights, LED tail lights, LED daytime running lights
  • Power-folding side mirrors
  • 7-inch LCD instrument cluster display, 4.2 inch LCD trip computer, and 7 inch color touchscreen audio display
  • AM/FM, MP3, Sirius XM, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth Phone System, Hyundai BlueLink Telematics System, BlueLink Connected Care
  • Flat Repair Kit in lieu of spare tire
  • MSRP – Limited Trim:  $32,500; Federal and CA rebates available

Added Features of Tester – “Ultimate Package” ($3,500)

  • Power tilt and slide sunroof
  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Smart Cruise Control with stop – start
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • HID Headlights with Dynamic Bending Light Function
  • Navigation System with 8-inch Touchscreen Display
  • Infinity Premium Audio with Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology; 8 speakers
  • Wireless Charging Pad for smart phones
  • LED interior lighting