What it is: The Ioniq is Hyundai’s first purpose-built hybrid or electric model. It’s a four-door hatchback and is basically akin to being Hyundai’s Prius. It’s currently offered in hybrid or electric variants, and Hyundai has plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid by the end of the year; so basically, a lineup right out of the Prius handbook.
The test model that I drove was the hybrid model, and to cut to the chase, it was rather spectacular. The MPG rating of 55 city and 54 highway makes it feel impossible to run out of gas with an 11.9 gallon tank (yes, that’s a 650-mile range on less than $30 in gas). The driving experience is excellent as well. This is one area where the Hyundai really shined over the Kia Niro, a cousin of the Ioniq (in last weeks article). It was comfortable on the highway and handled bumpy streets much better. It feels almost like the Ioniq is a next-generation Niro with every aspect improved upon.
The leather interior was very nice, but it’s clearly a cut or two below real luxury vehicles. The plastics that Hyundai uses are some of the best out there from traditional auto manufacturers, though. I did have the adaptive cruise control get confused once on the highway when a car cut into my lane, and it disabled itself until I turned the car off and back on again, but that was the only real hiccup I had.
There are three trim levels: Blue, SEL and Limited. The Blue trim starts at $22,200 and is jam-packed full of technology goodies. Standard features include a 7-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, driver-side blind spot monitoring, automatic projector headlights, LED third brake light, HD Radio, SiriusXM radio, dual zone automatic air conditioning, 4.2-inch gauge cluster digital display, Bluetooth and more. The SEL, for $1,750 more, adds LED DRLs and taillights, power drive seat, heated front seats, 7-inch gauge cluster screen, chrome accents, leather-wrapped steering wheel and full blind spot detection. The Limited trim is $3,550 over the SEL and adds 17-inch wheels, sunroof, leather seats, HID headlights, Hyundai’s Blue Link system, and even more chrome accents.

My test model took it a step forward with the Limited Ultimate package ($3,000) which adds adaptive cruise control with emergency braking, navigation, Infinity eight-speaker stereo, rear air vents, rear parking sensors and steering sensitive headlights. With a sticker of $31,460, that is certainly getting on the high end of what a compact car could and should sell for.
MPG: 55 city/54 highway/55 combined
Price: $31,460 as-tested.
Upsides: Great gas mileage. Great price. Comfortable while driving.
Downsides: None.
Wrap-up: The Ioniq is not a large vehicle, but the Sonata hybrid isn’t priced that much higher (MSRP $26,000) and has similar excellent levels of base equipment. I think that both base models are some of the best bang for the buck out there. In my previous review of the new Elantra, which is comparable in size to the Ioniq, it’s a no-brainer to go with the Ioniq unless there are large discounts at the dealership. I think most buyers at the $30,000 price point are likely looking at the Sonata-sized hybrid (42 MPG combined), but in the low $20,000 range, the Ioniq is an incredible choice that is a cure for the common Prius.

Wilson Calvert
Author: Wilson CalvertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist / Director of Operations
I am a long-time Houstonian and am obsessed with cars, soccer, traveling, bourbon and airplanes. I write a regular car review column for The Tribune and travel articles a few times per year.

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