Ioniq hybrid stares down rival Toyota Prius

218 Hyundai Ioniq

Hyundai’s Ioniq hybrid makes it loud and clear  the company wants to wrestle the best small hybrid crown from Toyota. It just might.

The Ioniq comes in a couple of forms, gas/electric hybrid and the plug-in version. My test car was a gas/electric version that had loads of bells and whistles and a good bit of character.

The Ioniq is a compact car that will seat four – five if you really must – and carry a lot of their junk because of a good-sized trunk. Power comes from a 1.6-liter gas engine that’s helped by a lithium-ion battery powered electric engine. Total horsepower is 139.

The car doesn’t have a continuously variable transmission (CVT) like most hybrids. Instead, the Ioniq gets a six-speed double clutch automatic, which can be hesitant to shift at times. It also tends to hunt for the proper gear.

The Good stuff

The Ioniq is the most fuel efficient hybrid on the market at 55-58 miles per gallon, if you opt for the base Blue model. That’s a few gallons per mile better than Toyota Prius’s 52-56 mpg. This saves you a few dollars more per month on gas, but it’s not significant.

What is significant is the Blue’s base price, which is way less than a base Prius. That’s how Hyundai got into to the car business by offering the same or more for less.

Pure price shoppers will folk to the Ioniq for that reason alone. There are other reasons, but there a few more things to consider. 

The Ioniq is affordable, but at a cost of getting a somewhat uneven  and a noisy ride. It’s not so much a suspension problem but more so the jerky shifts and odd braking feel. The handoff between the regenerative brakes (which recharge the battery) and the regular brakes isn’t the smoothest thing. I will say it’s less noticeable the more you drive the car.

Ioniq interior
Ioniq’s interior a comfortable place

The driving experience is about what you would expect. The acceleration is leisurely, but better than I expected. Then steering is a little numb, but I expected that as well. None of this is particularly bad for a compact, its just that other hybrid does this a bit better.

What I really like about the Ioniq is that it doesn’t scream hybrid with its looks. It’s a hatchback but really looks more like a sedan. It has the current Hyundai corporate face but its not as attractive as some of the company’s other offerings.

There is plenty to like about the interior. It modern, but not out-there as you get from other hybrids. My test car’s leather seats were comfortable enough and all of the controls had an upgraded feel.

I honestly liked this car a great deal. It has a few warts, but the price and Hyundai’s warranty is outstanding. Also, the gas overall mileage is tremendous.

The Limited’s equipment level is high, including turn signal indicators in power mirrors, traction and stability control, ABS, blindspot warning system, Xenon high discharge headlights, keyless entry, cruise and audio controls on steering wheel and a compass.

The Ioniq Limited’s price is 27,550.

The Ioniq needs to be on your list if you are looking for a hybrid in this size class.