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2017 Hyundai Ioniq hybrid emerges as legitimate Prius alternative Featured

Nov 28, 2017 Hit: 30 Written by 
The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq hybrid is aimed at the eco-friendly buyer.
The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq hybrid is aimed at the eco-friendly buyer. Photo by Matt Myftiu/AutoTechReviews.com

No ifs, ands or buts about it: When Hyundai came up with the new Ioniq -- which comes in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and EV-only varieties -- it had one thing on its mind: Siphoning buyers away from the Toyota Prius.

That’s no easy task, with the Prius having carried the banner for hybrids for two decades now, but it’s a task Hyundai is taking seriously.

Of the three versions of the Ioniq, I tested the one that is most accessible and likely to succeed, the hybrid, and I’m back with a full report.


LOOKS

If we’re talking hybrids and the topic is looks, there’s bound to be some shade thrown in the process. That’s because these vehicles often have what I can only call “unique” looks, that won’t always sit well with everyone. Thankfully, the design of the Ioniq hybrid is somewhat tame compared to the goofier/bolder design of the Prius, which may be a blessing for Hyundai if people cross-shop. Even those who love driving a Prius often mention the looks as something that could be improved, and I would say the Ioniq wins the beauty contest, both inside and out, over the Prius.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq hybrid
  • Price as tested:: $25,910
  • Best feature:: Fuel economy, which is the whole point of the Ioniq
  • Rating:: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Hybrid buyers seeking to maximize fuel economy and looking for a more affordable alternative

Inside, the tech setup is one I prefer too, as the Hyundai vehicle lineup has done very well in recent years regarding how their infotainment looks and performs.

ENGINE, HORSEPOWER

The Ioniq hybrid is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine, plus an electric motor.

Regenerative braking is in play on the Ioniq hybrid and it helps charge the battery.


139 is the total net horsepower (vs. 121 net hp in the Prius). A sport drive mode is offered, but be warned that it will lower your gas mileage. And honestly it’s hardly sporty in the true sense of the word. But you can’t have it all when it comes to these fuel mileage battles. If you really are focused on power, you’re probably not going to be looking at a hybrid in the first place.

Being a realist, I have to say that the drive is not thrilling in the Ioniq, outside of the thrill you get when you constantly drive past gas stations without having to stop (Boasting a capability of well over 600 miles per fill-up, you might forget what side the gas tank is on between stops).

Just like the Prius, the Ioniq crawls up to speed, all in the name of fuel mileage. It’s their lot in life, and drivers who get behind the wheel every day will probably get used to it. But it’s still annoying if you’re used to driving a faster vehicle.

TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

I did not have navigation in my Ioniq, but the rest of infotainment system worked well. The button layout was very functional, and voice commands worked well for radio and phone. The only odd thing I noticed was that the heat took a while to get working sometimes. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported in the Ioniq hybrid.


MPG

Official numbers on the Ioniq hybrid I tested were 55 city/54 highway/55 combined. One version of the Ioniq comes through with an estimate of 58 mpg. Various Prius models are right in this area, but Hyundai claims a slight advantage. In the end, in real world testing, you’ll be pretty much in the same vicinity.

How high that number climbs depends how hard you drive the vehicle, and when you’re taking it easy.

During my time in the Ioniq hybrid I wasn’t really stretching the fuel to the max, and I managed between 45 and 50 mpg depending on conditions. If I had been more conservative, I easily could have gotten into the mid-50s. In my experience driving the Prius it was about the same number-wise, so the decision is more about which vehicle you like the most and of course price.


PRICE

My test vehicle came in at just under $26K; and the base price starts closer to $23K, with incentives likely to be offered at year’s end and possibly lowering the price further.

The base price starts about a thousand under the Prius and higher trim levels will save you several thousand, no doubt on purpose as it tries to wean away buyers from Toyota.

BOTTOM LINE

If you want the fuel economy and eco-friendliness of a Prius, but in a more easy-to-look at package and for slightly less money, the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid is targeted squarely at you and it’s worth a test drive.

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AutoTechReviews.com 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: www.autotechreviews.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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