2018 Hyundai Ioniq Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.2

At first blush, the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq appears to be all about efficiency. Available in hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric versions, this small car boasts some of the highest fuel economy and mpg-equivalent ratings around. But this is more than just a thrifty car – it's also generally smooth and zippy, and despite its nontraditional powertrains, driving this car feels just like driving any other.

  • "From behind the wheel, the 2018 Ioniq Hybrid is refined and comfortable with few indications that its complex powertrain is using both an electric motor and a gasoline-powered internal-combustion engine to get you down the road. Basically, it feels like a regular compact car, and that's a good thing." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Ioniq is a dedicated hybrid that really doesn't drive like one. In eco drive mode, it's smooth, silent and pleasant. Treat the right pedal kindly and the EPA says you'll see 58 mpg combined -- two better than the Prius Eco." -- Autoweek (2017)
  • "My favorite thing about driving the Ioniq Hybrid, however, is its suspension tuning. This car lacks the heaviness and clumsiness commonly felt in a hybrid vehicle's ride and handling characteristics. Instead, the Ioniq Hybrid feels light, lively, athletic, and balanced. It zips around corners and feels playful and responsive." -- New York Daily News (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The Ioniq Hybrid comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. At 104-horsepower, this is one of the least powerful models in our compact car rankings, though it doesn't feel like it. Acceleration is still respectable for a hybrid, and its fuel economy rating of 57 mpg in the city and 59 mpg on the highway is impressive.

The 139-horsepower plug-in hybrid version delivers a nice blend of performance and efficiency. It uses the same four-cylinder engine and transmission as the hybrid, adding an 8.9-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. This adds a bit of weight to the car, but also grants it 29 miles of all-electric driving. Its fuel economy rating of 119 mpg-e places it as one of the most efficient plug-in hybrids you can buy.

Under the hood of the Ioniq Electric lies a 118-horsepower electric motor mated to a single-speed transmission. Battery size increases to 28 kWh, which subsequently boosts the range to 124 miles. That range is typical for an electric car at this price, but the Ioniq Electric's 136 mpg-e rating is one of the highest among EVs. Recharging the lithium-ion battery takes about four hours with a 240-volt charger. Acceleration is OK in the Ioniq Electric but not quite as quick as with the other two models.

  • "Mainstream hybrids don't typically have a reputation for being fun. But Hyundai's 'Sport' mode really does wake the car up. The gauges glow red, the steering requires a bit more muscle, the transmission will hold on to a gear longer and shift more aggressively. Plus, the gasoline engine always runs in this mode, which ensures you have the total system horsepower." -- Autoweek
  • "The powertrain far outdoes most other hybrids for charm. … Although there's an undercurrent of efficiency machinations happening behind the scenes, the plug-in hybrid drives like a nonhybrid car when the engine is running." -- Car and Driver (2017)
  • "The Ioniq Electric has a nice punch off the line, but overall it too has a relaxed, easygoing nature." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Handling and Braking

The front-wheel-drive Ioniq has mediocre handling, with decently weighted steering but little feedback from the road. The car can also jolt around a bit on the highway or on bumpy pavement. The regenerative brakes work smoothly.

  • We have little complaint about the Ioniq's suspension, which rides smoothly and evenly. We didn't have many tight, twisty turns on our press preview drive, but what curves there were the Ioniq handled well. Our big complaint is one we've made about other Hyundais: the steering. On the open highway, the Ioniq darts to and fro, requiring constant tiny corrections that can make long drives a real chore." -- Autotrader
  • "The mushy on-center steering feel adds a challenge to maintaining lane position at freeway speeds. The effort is suitable at all speeds, never too light or too heavy. But it's nearly completely lifeless, communicating little about the road and the state of grip to the driver." -- Edmunds
  • The electric steering is impressively tuned, too, though the added weight in Sport mode introduces an unwelcome tinge of artificiality to the steering wheel. Thanks to its sophisticated blended regenerative braking system, the Ioniq comes to a smooth and faithful stop every time, the pedal easy to modulate and feeling completely natural at all times." -- New York Daily News (2017)

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