Review: The 2021 Hyundai Ioniq, the affordable electric

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Review: The 2021 Hyundai Ioniq, the affordable electric


The 2021 Hyundai
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Ioniq brings a choice of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or all-electric drivetrains. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of the Ioniq lineup, but it makes the three main forms of automotive electrification more affordable for the average buyer who doesn’t have the money to spend on a Tesla
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or even a Chevrolet Bolt EV. 

And electrification is the direction in which vehicles are heading. Sadly, the Ioniq Electric is only available in 13 states.

Not styled as radically as the Toyota
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Prius or Nissan
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Leaf, the Ioniq comes across as a somewhat everyday 4-door hatchback. But it can be loaded with impressive features and technology, adding to its overall value

Although not as big inside as the Prius, the Ioniq is still quite accommodating for two adults up front and two kids in the back. However, the Ioniq’s biggest advantage over the Prius is its price, which is about $1,000 less than the Toyota at the base level. 

The 2021 Hyundai Ioniq


Hyundai

The Ioniq further extends its green footprint by using a number of recycled and natural materials as part of its interior construction. It also comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty as standard.

What’s new for 2021?

The Ioniq Electric gets 250 kilowatt-hours of free charging from Electrify America. The only other changes involve paint choices. Summit Gray has been replaced by Amazon Gray. 

What we like
  • Great fuel economy

  • Electric model’s range

  • Low entry price

  • Many standard features

  • Great warranties

  • 250 kWh of free charging for Ioniq Electric with Electrify America

What we don’t
  • Limited rear legroom and headroom

  • Vague steering makes the car wander

  • Odd split rear window impedes rearward vision

  • No rear wiper or washer

  • Road noise comes into the cabin

How much?

$23,400 – $38,815

Fuel economy

The 2021 Ioniq Hybrid has a 1.6-liter/4-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine augmented by a 32-kW electric motor (running off a lithium-ion polymer battery) for a total output of 139 horsepower. A dual-clutch 6-speed automated transmission (it’s operated like a conventional automatic) sends drive solely to the front wheels.

Also see: Volvo adds stylish new C40 Recharge to its electric lineup

The Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy for the Ioniq Hybrid Blue is 58 miles per gallon in the city, 60 mpg on the highway, and 59 mpg in combined driving. The other Ioniq Hybrid trims are slightly thirstier at 54 mpg city/56 mpg highway/55 mpg combined. During a brief test drive over highways and some winding back roads, we averaged around 45 mpg.

The Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid uses virtually the same setup, but with a 104-hp engine and a 44.5-kW electric motor for a total system output of 156 hp.

The EPA has a way of calculating distance traveled and energy used known as miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe). The Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid achieves a combined driving figure of 119 MPGe, or 52 mpg combined when driven as a regular hybrid, and has an all-electric range of 29 miles.

The Ioniq Electric employs an 88-kW electric motor with a 38.3-kWh battery. The EPA puts energy use at an impressive 145 MPGe city/121 MPGe highway/133 MPGe combined, which is easily the best in this class.

It has a total range of 170 miles on a single charge — not as good as the Chevy Bolt EV’s 259 miles, but better than the basic Nissan Leaf’s 149. Using a fast-charging station, the Ioniq Electric can reach 80-percent capacity in just 54 minutes.

In March, Hyundai partnered with Electrify America to offer Ioniq Electric owners 250 kilowatt-hours of free charging. The offer applies to new buyers as well as those who have already purchased a 2021 Ioniq Electric.

Customers can access their complimentary charging with the Electrify America mobile app.

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That 250 kWh figure equates to about 1,000 miles of EPA-estimated driving range in the Ioniq Electric.

Standard features and options

The 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid comes in Blue, SE, SEL, and Limited trim levels. The Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid comes in SE, SEL, and Limited versions. The Electric comes in SE and Limited trims.

At the time of compiling this review, official pricing had yet to be announced. We’ve put our estimates in parentheses.

Blue ($23,400) has 15-in alloy wheels, active grille shutters, automatic on/off headlights with automatic high beams, rear window defroster, keyless entry/start, power/windows/locks/side mirrors, cruise control, forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping assistance, driver attention monitoring, regenerative brake paddles, selectable driving modes (Eco and Sport), dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, 6-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, 6-way manually adjustable front passenger seat, 4.2-in LCD instrument cluster, 60/40 split/folding rear seats, 8-in infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth with voice control, USB port, and Apple
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CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration.

The SE Hybrid ($25,350) adds blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, LED daytime running lights, heated side mirrors, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, satellite radio, and Hyundai Blue Link services.

The SEL Hybrid ($28,600) brings forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane-following assistance, adaptive cruise control with stop/go, powered tilt/slide sunroof, LED headlights/taillights, 7-in LCD instrument cluster, and wireless charging.

The Limited Hybrid ($31,400) comes with highway driving assistance, front/rear parking sensors, power-folding side mirrors with puddle lamps, leather seating surfaces, driver’s-seat memory settings, LED interior lighting, self-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, rear climate system vents, cargo cover, 10.25-in infotainment touchscreen, navigation, and an 8-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system.

The SE Plug-In Hybrid ($26,700) has a 29-mile all-electric range, keyless entry/start, forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, lane-following assistance, adaptive cruise control with stop/go, automatic high beams, LED daytime running lights, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, 4.2-in LCD instrument cluster, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Hyundai Blue Link services, 8-in infotainment touchscreen, satellite radio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

The SEL Plug-In Hybrid ($29,700) adds blind-spot monitoring with red cross-traffic alert, LED headlights/taillights, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, self-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, wireless charging, and a 7-in LCD instrument cluster.

The Limited Plug-In Hybrid ($33,150) adds a powered tilt/slide sunroof, front/rear parking sensors, highway driving assistance, powered sunroof, power-folding side mirrors with puddle lights, rear climate system vents, leather seating surfaces, driver’s-seat memory settings, ambient cabin lighting, cargo cover, 10.25-in infotainment touchscreen, navigation, and a Harman Kardon audio system.

The SE Electric ($33,245) adds adaptive cruise control to the other Ioniq SE features but loses dual-zone automatic climate control.

The Limited Electric ($38,815) has the same features as the other Limited models, plus a heat pump.

The 2021 Ioniq comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and a lifetime battery warranty (original owner only) that covers the battery in the event of a complete failure, but not necessarily diminished capacity over time.

Safety

The Ioniq comes with a full set of mandatory safety features, including electronic traction control and stability control, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitoring, rearview camera, and a full complement of airbags — including one for the driver’s knees.

Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, lane-departure warning, driver attention monitoring, and front/rear parking sensors are also available.

See: Why women are more likely to be injured in a car crash

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Ioniq Hybrid top scores of Good in every crash test, plus a Superior rating in the crash avoidance and mitigation test.

Behind the wheel

Unlike hybrid systems from Honda
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 and Toyota, which use some variation of a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the Ioniq has a 6-speed dual-clutch automated transmission. Hyundai chose this unit because it drives like a traditional automatic — a sharp contrast to a typical CVT that lets engine speed rise and fall, creating a “rubber band” feel.

Some dual-clutch automatics lack low-end acceleration when paired with a small engine, but the Ioniq’s electric motor sidesteps this issue. It delivers plenty of low-end torque, so the car moves off smartly from a standstill.

The Ioniq’s suspension rides smoothly and evenly, handling curves well. But, like other Hyundais, the steering needs to improve. At highway speeds, the Ioniq oscillates from left to right, requiring constant tiny corrections that can make long drives a chore.

See: Cars under $20k are becoming an endangered species. Here are a few you can still get

Rear passenger space is tight for both headroom and legroom. And although a trunk area of 26.5 cubic feet seems good in theory, the Ioniq’s low roofline limits space for bulky cargo. The plug-in hybrid’s larger battery reduces that figure by four cubic feet.

Speaking of the roofline, the back window is split into two pieces, with a large bar running between them. It creates an odd view out the rear window. There’s no rear wiper — a result of cost-cutting and/or aerodynamics, perhaps — but the Ioniq could use one.

Other cars to consider

2021 Toyota Prius — The Prius is the original compact hybrid and still a must-consider.

2021 Kia Niro — The Kia
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Niro uses the same basic mechanicals as the Ioniq, but in a more useful package, with better interior space and an arguably attractive crossover-ish design.

2021 Hyundai Kona Electric — The Kona Electric subcompact crossover is sportier than the Ioniq and can drive up to 258 miles on a single charge. It costs more than the Ioniq Electric, however.

Used Toyota Camry Hybrid — A used 2014-2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid will provide excellent fuel economy, great interior space, reassuring reliability and robust resale values.

Autotrader’s advice

The SE’s combination of features, options and price is the best deal in the Ioniq lineup. The extra features in the SEL and the Limited are great, but their prices push the Ioniq out of the “affordable hybrid” category.

This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.



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