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2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric makes a bold entrance to electric car market Featured

Jun 12, 2017 Hit: 433 Written by 
The new Hyundai Ioniq Electric can go up to 124 miles on a full charge.
The new Hyundai Ioniq Electric can go up to 124 miles on a full charge. Photo by Matt Myftiu/

The successful all-electric car is the elusive white whale of the auto industry, with a variety of automakers chasing the dream with limited success over the years.

But the battle is heating up again and some strong contenders are emerging. Including a somewhat surprising entry, the brand new Hyundai Ioniq. New for 2017, it features three varieties: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric.

I recently tested the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, and I’m back with a full report on how it measures up.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric
  • Price as tested:: $36,835
  • Best feature:: No need for gas, impressive drive quality for an electric vehicle
  • Rating:: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Commuters who want a quality vehicle and want to be eco-friendly and gasoline-free

1. How far can you drive?

With the Ioniq Electric, you’re getting an 88-kilowatt electric motor, paired with a 28-kWh lithium-ion battery back -- for a total of 118 horsepower. The vehicle offers a maximum range of 124 miles before you run out of juice and need a recharge. And the regenerative braking and manner in which you drive can extend that a bit. For someone like myself, with a commute of about 28 miles each way, that was good enough for two trips to and from work before a charge is needed, assuming you’re not also driving it around the neighborhood.

This 124-mile number makes it better on distance than most rivals, with the lone exception being the Chevy Bolt EV, which can top 200 miles. The Bolt is also pricier, though.

2. Charging
This is a tricky part of the efforts to get electric cars sold en masse. You have to charge the Ioniq Electric overnight to get it fully charged. If you use up the miles every day, that’s a lot of charging, and you have to remember to do it every time or you won’t be able to use it the next day. You can install a charging station that will speed up the time, but the very idea of having to charge so often is a big factor in the dismissal of electric cars by many who might be considering them.

This is a big mental barrier that people have, and I’m curious to see how technology improvements on the charging side, both at home and on the road, can get rid of that barrier in the future as electric cars continue to grow. Growing the infrastructure on the roadways for charging is just as key as getting home charging to be a more speedy process.

3. How’s the drive?

One complaint I often have with hybrid vehicles is how boring and slow the vehicle is while you are driving. You would think that going full electric would make that worse. But that’s not necessarily the case here. Going into sport mode in the Ioniq Electric means you have an almost normal-feeling driving experience and nothing resembling a turtle crawl. 118 horsepower isn’t a lot, but the Ioniq Electric somehow makes it feel like more.

The other thing with electric vehicles is just how quiet it is inside when you are driving -- the sound of silence is all you’ll hear, and it takes a bit to get used to that.

You also get a wide array of impressive tech and safety features in the Ioniq Electric, which help improve the overall experience of the driving experience.

4. Looks

While it isn’t full of high-end materials, the Ioniq Electric is also not a bad-looking vehicle, with a likeable hatchback design. It isn’t quite as off-the-wall or spacy like many other hybrids/electric vehicles. Inside is pretty small though, especially the back seat (but the storage space is somewhat large to offset that). Only somewhat futuristic touch is the buttons used in place of a traditional shifter. And the front headlamp design was very attractive. Most often, when you’re looking at hybrids/electric vehicles, there is much to improve in terms of looks -- but I didn’t find that to be the case here.

5. Does it fit your lifestyle?

Like most electric vehicles, the audience here will be limited, and mainly confined to commuters with shorter distances to work. The only way electric vehicles will ever truly hit huge sales numbers is if we get much larger distance ranges (think 300 plus) and quicker charging times.

By the way, the Hyundai is focusing its Ioniq Electric sales efforts in California (the epicenter of electric vehicle sales in the United States), but I was told by a Hyundai representative that dealerships around the country are free to place an order for the vehicle, though the wait may be a bit longer. The other versions of the Ioniq may be more accessible in these other states (including the traditional hybrid, with its much-touted 59 highway mpg rating)

The base price of $29,500 is an incentive to get the Ioniq Electric; and that becomes even more affordable after tax credits (a $7,500 credit gets you down to $22,000). There is also a leasing program called Ioniq Unlimited (subscription-based, not a lease) where you pay a fixed fee for 24 to 36 months, with unlimited miles. Included in the fee are all charging costs and maintenance costs.

So with money now being less of a barrier, it’s more about whether an electric car fits your lifestyle (Do you take mostly shorter trips, and can you live with the mileage restrictions between charges?)

If it does fit and you’re determined to go electric, the Ioniq Electric has made a strong debut and is one of the best options you can choose. can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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