2020 Hyundai Ioniq HEV Limited Review By David Colman +VIDEO
Takes Hybrid EVs in a new direction
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Hyundai claims their 2020 Ioniq Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) has dethroned Toyota's long-time MPG champion, the Prius HEV, by posting an overall fuel economy rating of 55MPG to 52MPG for the Prius. Of course, as they say, your results may differ, but there's little reason to dispute the fact that the Ioniq HEV is the most parsimonious fuel sipper you can buy today. Better yet, it matters little whether you tackle city or freeway driving, since both tests produce virtually the same result: 55MPG City, 54MPG Highway. That's good enough for the EPA to award this Hyundai a perfect 10 out of 10 on the Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Rating scale.
So let's say you've bagged the coveted pole position trophy for fuel economy, but at what cost of driving pleasure? You will be pleasantly surprised to discover that the Ioniq is one HEV that doesn't need to dress up in a clown suit to get your attention. For some reason, HEV and EV stylists insist on using a vocabulary of visual tricks designed to inform the public at large of your green virtuosity: lots of exterior flaps and vents, bat wings worthy of a '59 Chevy, interiors that look more like a restroom than a restful room. Welcome to the respite provided by Hyundai with the looks of the Ioniq. The understated but very handsome exterior of this four door, five seat sedan altogether avoids the standard Batman styling cliché endemic to green vehicles. Rather, the bionic Ioniq presents a smooth, uninterrupted face to the wind, a single dramatic beltline that rises continuously from front to rear, and a bifurcated hatchback that permits excellent rear vision. The only novelty item on the HEV is what Hyundai calls Eco-Spoke alloy wheels. These 7Jx17 inch alloys could just as well be called forged-in-fire rims since the flat, fat spokes look like those hammer-finished knives for sale "as seen on TV."
The ingenious looking alloys are shod with long life Michelin Primacy radials (225/45R17). Your steering connection to the front tires is through a flat bottom, pistol grip indented leather steering wheel that is rewarding to grab and fun to manipulate. The Hyundai reacts quickly to even slight steering input, and all in all, this car's handling virtuosity comes as a pleasant and unexpected surprise. So too do a number of other benefits unexpected in this price range. My first freeway outing in the Ioniq revealed a surprising automated capability almost never found in a car of this price class. Hyundai calls the directional control system Highway Driving Assistant (HDA).
When it kicked in for the first time, I was at first perplexed, then gratified to use this slick tool to help oversee car control. HDA only operates when you have activated Cruise Control and set your predetermined speed. From that point, a green steering wheel symbol will illuminate on the 7 inch high resolution LED gauge cluster. HDA will follow painted guide lines on the road surface, altering direction of the Ioniq as needed. The Cruise Control function takes care of speed and spacing to other vehicles, but you must keep your hands lightly on the steering wheel, or the green wheel symbol will turn white, and the system will deactivate. According to the Owner's Manual, HDA will assist you to a pre-set speed of 95mph, but I wouldn't put my faith in it at that kind of velocity.
Although HDA is perhaps the most unexpected benefit of this car's many virtues, you will also enjoy a number of special features Korean builders like to provide free of extra charge. In Limited trim, the Ioniq HEV includes an integrated memory system which recalls and sets preferred positions for driver's seat and mirrors, dual automatic climate control, a proximity key with push button start, a 3-year free subscription to the Blue Link Connected Car System which allows remote access to the Ioniq's ignition, climate control and door locks. Hyundai also provides Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless device charging, , LED head and tail lights, ambient interior lighting, front and rear parking sensors, and power folding exterior mirrors with embedded puddle lights. By our count, the window sticker for the HEV noted 47 separate features that were "included" in the $31,200 base price of the Ioniq Limited. Not a single extra charge item was appended to that list.
Although we've never been huge fans of HEV/EV vehicles that proclaim their righteousness through stylistic aberrations, the Ioniq takes HEV development in a new direction. This compact mileage champion looks just right, drives really well, provides a luxury car array of conveniences, and costs far less than you would expect to pay, both in the near term and the far term.
2020 HYUNDAI IONIQ HEV LIMITED
ENGINE: 1.6 liter inline 4, Gasoline Direct Injection, Atkinson Cycle plus Hybrid
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 55MPG City/54MPG Highway
BASE PRICE: $31,200
HYPES: Stellar Mileage, Buttoned Down Looks, Features Galore
GRIPES: Not The Quickest
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10