Lately, we’ve been recalibrating our brains to compensate for the influx of the hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and EV vehicles to our driveways. The Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In was the latest to grace our asphalt in an effort to stand apart from the the Toyota Prius Prime and its own excellent stablemate, the Kia Niro Plug-In. Differentiating itself from the Toyota in the fact that it isn’t polarizing to look at, the Ioniq is a fascinating take on the plug-in craze.
First off, the Ioniq Plug-In is in fact, a good looking car. The hatchback is practical and easy to see out of, except when the lower rear piece of glass gets dirty from road spray. Another plus is the complete lack of hybrid driving dynamics. The powertrain sounds like any typical four cylinder economical vehicle and the transmission behaves as any normal dual-clutch would. You do notice that the gas engine turns on and off much less frequently than a plain hybrid, but the feeling is still present.
The engine itself is a 1.6L I4 with 104 horsepower. It is not going to light the world on fire, but its adequate in everyday driving and merging into traffic on the highway. The largest change compared to the hybrid version is in fact large; an 8.9-kWh battery pack which gives a claimed 27 electric-only mile range according to Hyundai. In the course of our week, we returned a low 20 mile EV range due to colder temperatures. Hyundai fits the Ionic Plug-In with a larger electric motor as well. The 60 horsepower motor offers plenty of torque off the line and assists with operation at highway speeds.
As far as the drive, the Ioniq Plug-In is pleasant. The steering is fairly vague, but you didn’t buy this car to carve the canyons. The regenerative brakes are confidence inspiring and allow for some one-pedal driving dynamics. Unlike some hybrids and plug-ins, the pedal feel isn’t artificial or notchy. The ride is very compliant along the broken roads of Upstate NY. A low drag coefficient, low rolling resistance tires, and an on-again-off-again engine mean most of the ride is also very quiet.
Inside the Ioniq Plug-In is typical Hyundai. Leading infotainment with Apple Car Play and Android Auto is here, as are heated seats. Quality is higher than the price would suggest and there in lies the ultimate benefit of the Ioniq Plug-In. Priced strongly to undercut the Prius with competitive range and looks that best it in every dimension, perhaps this is the new PHEV king?
|2018 Hyundai IONIQ PHEV
|As Tested MSRP||$24,950|