What it is: The Ioniq is Hyundai’s fuel-sipping compact car that is only offered in a five-door hatchback form. As mentioned in the headline, Hyundai sells three variants. The hybrid and electric are self-explanatory, but a plug-in hybrid is a car that can drive on electricity only for a short range and then operates a gas engine for longer differences. I tested the hybrid version, which has the best combined MPG of any car at a combined 58 MPG. This is only on the Blue trim which sacrifices niceties like larger wheels for more aerodynamic and efficient 15-inch alloy wheels.
My test model was the Limited trim, the highest of the three trims available, and is a $6,150 premium over the Blue trim which starts at $22,400. The mid tier SEL trim starts at $24,950. The Limited provides the full gamut of luxury-adjacent features that you would expect from a premium economy car such as heated side mirrors, LED taillights, HID headlights, a sunroof, 10-way power driver seat, leather interior and much more. All of these options do have weight, and when you add that up the MPG drops from 58 to 55 combined. The 5% drop probably won’t be noticed too much, but it’s a testament to how many miles Hyundai is able to eek out from a gallon of gas. For reference, 58 MPG allows you to get all of the way from Houston to New Orleans on 6 gallons of gas.
The driving experience is fairly drab as the car is set up to minimize throttle input to save gas. The Ioniq still doesn’t feel particularly premium, even with the optional Ultimate Package ($2,200) included.
Price: $28,550 for Limited trim. $31,760 as-tested with destination.
Mileage: 55 combined/55 city/54 highway
Upsides: Incredible gas mileage. Nice stereo.
Downsides: A little too blah.
Wrap-up: I look at the Ioniq Hybrid, and I don’t know why you would choose to buy this one. The Plug-in Hybrid is about $3,000 more and provides up to 29 miles on electricity only and that makes much more sense to me. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid also is about $3,000 more ($25,750 base price), and is a far superior car in almost every way except it delivers only 46 MPG. Yes, price is a big differentiator when purchasing a vehicle, but anything within 10% should be fair game. The Ioniq does have a very normal feel and appearance, so if you like the idea of driving a hybrid, but are turned off by the ultra modern looks that the new Prius has, then I can understand you considering the Ioniq.