Electric cars are steadily moving into the American automotive mainstream, although many makers still wrap their advanced mobility solutions in science-fiction-inspired bodywork. Hyundai's new Ioniq Electric aims for a less edgy profile and potentially broader popularity – its zero-emissions powerplant moves a car that blends in with everyday traffic, providing an alternative to buyers who want high efficiency and high tech without the high visibility.
What's New for 2017
The Ioniq Electric is a completely new model from Hyundai. It shares a name and platform with gas-electric hybrid and plug-in hybrid siblings (not to mention some structural parts with the Elantra sedan).
Choosing Your Hyundai Ioniq Electric
The Ioniq name is used on three versions of the same basic design: the full electric model discussed here, and gas-electric and plug-in hybrid versions covered in separate articles.
For the moment, the ability to choose an Ioniq Electric in the first place is reserved for Californians. Hyundai is initially limiting sales of its first all-electric offering to the Golden State, although availability for the rest of the US is said to be forthcoming.
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is, as the name implies, a fully electric car. An AC motor sends a maximum of 118 horsepower and 218 pound-feet of torque directly to the front wheels – as is normal for electric cars, there isn't a traditional transmission. The Ioniq's 136 MPGe combined efficiency rating is the highest of any car sold in the United States; the EPA estimates range on a full charge to be 124 miles. The four-wheel disc brakes are backed up by a regenerative braking system, which converts the car's kinetic energy back into electricity and can be modulated by shifter-like paddles behind the steering wheel.
Motivation aside the Ioniq is a contemporary and pleasant-looking five-door hatchback. It is approximately the same size as Hyundai's Elantra, with similar cabin dimensions and almost 24 cubic feet of cargo space. An Ioniq Electric has not yet been subjected to independent crash testing, but Hyundai boldly claims that results will be among the best on the market.
If the Ioniq's design is rather reserved and mainstream, Hyundai's available Unlimited+ Subscription leasing program is more ambitious. Briefly, the Unlimited+ Subscription program adds such benefits as unlimited mileage, free maintenance, and charging reimbursement to the framework of a standard auto lease (you can read more about Unlimited+ here).
All Ioniq Electrics are eligible for the full $7,500 federal electric vehicle tax credit.
The Ioniq Electric is offered in two trim levels:
It is not easy to justify the large price jump between the Base and the Limited for what are essentially trim changes – and the argument only grows more difficult with the $3,500 step to the Ultimate, even given the appeal of the active safety systems. The best bet is to stick to the Base, investigate the possibilities of the Unlimited+ Subscription arrangement, and enjoy taking an inconspicuous step forward in transportation technology.