Test Drive Notes Library
- Unassuming looks. Toyota has left an opening for a car like the Ioniq, by going full Star Wars on current Prius design. While some people are happy (even proud) to drive around and have people think they carry a light saber in the trunk, that’s not true of everybody. Some people want all the mileage and practicality of Prius, without going in for the personal branding it carries. For those people, there’s the Hyundai Ioniq. The Ioniq is a 55 MPG hybrid hatchback that looks like… a car.
- Mileage. The big draw of the Ioniq (which I keep wanting to spell “Iconic’) is the fuel economy. Rated by EPA at 55 city, 54 highway, the Ioniq will satisfy the cheapest cheapskate and the huggiest tree hugger. It’s within an iota of as good as it gets for mileage. Because of its high mileage, the Ioniq’s range is well over 500 miles. That means the average (12,000 miles a year) driver will only see a gas station twice a month. Unless he or she needs a restroom or a bag of Bugles. In our real world testing, we saw mileage in the mid to high 40’s. Still pretty good.
- Practicality. Like the Prius, from which it hopes to steal customers, the Ioniq is a five door car with a hatchback. That is, by far, more practical and versatile than a sedan. And with plenty of cargo room in the back, the Ioniq is well suited to carry all manner of baby paraphernalia, bike paraphernalia, camping paraphernalia, or Ikea paraphernalia. That should cover the target audience. Oh, let me add Costco paraphernalia. The rear seats fold to create extra cargo room, assuming you’re willing to tie the kids to the roof.
- Clean ergonomics. Rather than go high tech, the Ioniq’s interior went straight forward, for which Ioniq owners will be grateful. Most important tasks have dedicated knobs or switches (you even get volume and tuning knobs). The shifter works like… an actual shifter! No game controller, thank you. The touchscreen does its job, although having the “mileage” information hidden one or two menus down seems like an oversight for the hyper-miling crowd.
- Soft ride. The Ioniq is tuned for cush. The suspension is set to give you the softest, cushiest, floatiest ride possible in this car. It mostly succeeds. If you consider a car a tool to get you around, you want the highest mileage possible, and the last thing you ever want to do is “feel the road,” the Ioniq could be for you.
- Available safety. All of the modern safety equipment we recommend (forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert) is available on the Ioniq, but only as optional equipment on the highest trim levels, like our Limited, which lists for $31,460.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Not sporty. The first thing you notice when you get in the Ioniq is the sporty, flat bottomed steering wheel. That’s also the last sporty thing you’ll experience from the Ioniq. It’s not really fun to drive. To be fair, no one would ever call the Prius fun to drive either. Although the latest Prius did sharpen up its handling. The Ioniq feels more like an older, squishier Prius; Mileage Uber Alles. Handling is floaty, cornering is adequate, but not sharp, and body lean crops up sometimes.
- Slappy suspension. We noticed that the car tends to slap over road irregularities. While adequate, the suspension is not a reason to buy this car.
- Engine noise. This is one of the prices you pay for a hybrid. When the smallish, 1.6 liter, four cylinder engine comes on, it comes on with a buzziness. Your priority is mileage, so when you buy a car like this, you agree to overlook small annoyances like engine noise.
- Acceleration. Like the Prius, the Ioniq is tuned to make it hard for you to jack-rabbit away from a stoplight. You squeeze the gas pedal, and the car responds gently and slowly, like a teenager being woken up at noon. That, no doubt, helps fuel economy. But if you’re a naturally impatient person, the Ioniq may not be for you. You can, of course, switch to the sport mode, which makes everything much peppier. But why would you do that? You bought a car that gets great mileage. Why ruin your mileage with jack rabbit starts?
- Slightly cheap feeling interior. Compared to the Prius, the Ioniq feels a little cheaper inside. There’s something about the hard plastics and overall materials that says “economy car,” despite our test car’s price of over $31K. In addition, the lighter colored plastic atop the dashboard reflected strongly in the windshield, to the point of being distracting in full sunshine.
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