By Cars.com EditorsSeptember 11, 2017
About the video
We review the new 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric.
(car revving) (lightly upbeat music) is a complicated car under some complicated circumstances in a very complicated market. The Ioniq Electric is available now but only in parts of California.
Looking at the outside, the Ioniq Electric has a distinctive look. Lot of efficient cars don't look that good, this one is actually pretty neat. I particularly like the smooth, gloss black front end on the electric version of the Ioniq. The vehicles that have the gas engine, whether they're hybrid or plug-in hybrid, have more of a conventional grille. Now looking at the size of the Ioniq Electric, it is about a foot longer than the Chevy Bolt EV and about an inch longer than the current Nissan Leaf. By current, I mean, the 2017 first-generation 'cause it's about to get updated, told you things are complicated right now. Now it's hard to beat the Bolt in general, because it has an EPA estimated range of 238 miles on a charge, the Ioniq Electric is 124 miles, the Nissan Leaf is 107. Now, if that seems like very short range, know, at least, that it starts $7,000 less than the Bolt EV. Now this is something you've seen before, common among efficient hatchbacks, we've got the split rear window. Now having that split rear window is a little bit odd, I admit, but you might be looking at it the wrong way. The other way to look at it is if it weren't for that lower pane, if they just gave you the upper one, you'd be saying, "I can't see well enough out the back." The Ioniq Electric's acceleration is quite good. It's not to the level of the Chevy Bolt EV, which is very quick, but this is no slouch. I'd compare it more to the current Nissan Leaf, the first generation still being sold as a 2017, quick enough off the line. One interesting thing they've done with the Ioniq Electric, an adjustment of the amount of regenerative braking. As you break an electric or a hybrid car, it uses the inertia of the car to turn the drive motor, which acting as a generator, recharges the battery. So typically you go to the brake pedal and it will engage that regenerative braking before the conventional brakes ever take bite. In this case, what you can do is you can adjust the amount of regenerative breaking you get just by lifting off the accelerator pedal. There are four levels, level 0, 1, 2, and 3. In level 0, there's essentially none. The car practically coasts by itself, and what you do is you hit the pedal on the left here and it increases it by one level. This is the difference between this and the Bolt. In the Bolt, you squeeze it and it activates, and you release and it deactivates. It's kind of like having a handbrake. Level 2 gives you more regeneration, and now level 3, gives quite a lot. You might even be able to see the cars passing me faster, and reason being, it's actually stopping fast enough to trigger the brake lights, which is good, you want that. If you go to level 3 of regeneration, you can actually do what's called one pedal driving, you're driving with the accelerator pedal, this all one pedal (car notification beeping) slowing down and speeding up, which is good because it means anytime you're not accelerating or keeping a steady state, you are regenerating electricity, which is good for your efficiency and your range. As far as handling, car handles reasonably well. I'm gonna give more points to the Chevy Bolt in that regard as well. As a shorter wheel base, it's a little bit more nimble feeling. This car, again, closer to the Nissan Leaf. The wheel base is actually the same as the Leaf's, four inches longer than the Bolt, and that can help with the ride quality. The Bolt can feel a little bit busy even though it is reasonably well suspended. The Ioniq Electric seats aren't that bad, but I still found them a little bit kind of hard and uncomfortable, strange. Overall, it's a real, nice, roomy cabin. The passenger volume is 96 cubic feet, that's two more than the Bolt and four more than the Leaf. The Ioniq Electric's backseat is also roomy. It has about 2 1/2 inches more leg room than the first-generation Leaf, one inch less leg room than the Bolt, overall, pretty roomy. With 23.8 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the back seat, the Ioniq Electric is quite roomy, better than the Bolt's 16.9 cubic feet. It's just about the same as the first-generation Leaf and having the folding back seats and hatchback versatility, makes a big difference. The Bolt EV may have more than a hundred miles greater range than the Ioniq Electric but there's an impressive number here too. The Ioniq Electric has the highest efficiency rating of any vehicle in miles per gallon equivalent. It's rated 136 MPGE versus the Bolt at 119, which makes very little difference in the cost to drive but noticeable difference in charging. So what we found is when a car is efficient like this, the same amount of charging time translates to greater range. If you are buying a car like this, you are going to need what's called Level 2 charging, 240 volts, that's what this unit is here. Now once it's plugged in, the Ioniq adds about 27 miles of range for an hour of Level 2 charging versus the Bolt at 25 miles, the first-generation Leaf at as much as 18 miles, and the e-Golf at 21 miles. There is another charging rate and that is DC fast charging, and on the Ioniq Electric, it is a standard feature, which is nice. Now this is something that you find only in public and we try to and it exceeded expectations. It started with a battery 22% full and after 30 minutes, it had hit 90%. The estimated range went from 27 miles to 124 miles. That's 97 miles of range added in 30 minutes and that's really good. We did the same test with the Chevy Bolt EV and that added only 61 miles of range. 61 versus 97 is not a coincidence, it is partly reflecting that this is a more efficient car and as a result, the amount of time you put into the charging pays off in range. You know what that pesky Chevy Bolt EV and a Tesla Model 3 in their range of more than 200 miles, it's hard for an EV to get noticed anymore. If it weren't for those two, I think the Ioniq Electric would be making a bigger splash and it should because it does cost about $7,000 less, it is extraordinarily efficient, and that pays off not just in cost of driving, but in speed of charging. I do hope that it extends beyond California because there's an awful lot to like here.