Not to be left out of the hybrid compact market, in 2017 Hyundai debuted their Ionic Hybrid, a Toyota Prius fighter if you will. Since then, Hyundai has expanded the line with the addition of an all-electric model, and Ionic Plug-in Hybrid to compliment the Hybrid we tested.There’s also a gasoline-only Ionic so you get a choice of three.
From this, you may wonder what’s the difference between the Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid. Both are essentially the same except the latter comes with a larger battery that allows up to 29 miles on electric-only power, in addition to its normal range. Plus, it can be plugged in to charge the battery independently so you get the best of both worlds. And, it’s for those who don’t want to go total electric and its certain shortcomings.
Ionic Hybrid is offered in three powertrains. A 1.6-liter, Atlinson inline 4-cylinder produces 104-hp and 109 lb/ft of torque. With the addition of the electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack, it adds 43-hp and 125 lb/ft of torque for a total system output of 139-hp. Coupled to a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, it garners EPA mileage estimates of 55 city, 54 highway mpg.
The Ionic Plug-in gets the same 4-cylinder but with a larger battery that generates 60 more horsepower for a total output of 139-hp for 52 city/highway mpg with the 6-speed auto trans.
The all electric Ionic has EPA estimates of 150/122 MPGe for city/highway driving for which it’s rated at 124 miles of driving range on a full charge.
While the Ionic Hybrid looks like a suave sedan, it’s actually a hatchback. Ironically, and it’s unknown if Hyundai wanted to mimic the Prius, but Ionic also has a split rear window that obstructs the rear view somewhat.
Ionic Hybrid is offered in three trim levels of base Blue, SEL tested and top-line Limited. The latter adds more content over the SEL such as leather seating, smartphone charger, 8-inch touchscreen and more.
However, the SEL came nicely equipped with driver aids of blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise, emergency braking, lane change assist and more.
The 1.6-liter four cylinder has spirited acceleration. Once underway, and slow merging onto a busy highway, there’s a linear application of power under full throttle.
We found that the transmission searches between gears when accelerating, slowing or braking then quickly accelerating again. Ionic’s racy, square-bottomed steering wheel has paddle shifters so this condition can be alleviated somewhat.
Ionic’s interior is sensibly arranged with easy to operate HVAC controls and a 7-inch touchscreen with rearview camera, voice control, Bluetooth and apps such as Apple CarPlay/Android Auto that are connected via a smartphone. The audio system included satellite radio that was not an optional charge. The gauge cluster has but one large speedometer flanked by fuel economy and power gauges, the latter is an aid for driving economically.
Heated front cloth seats are comfy and semi-supportive and the durable rear seats are on the firm side with surprisingly ample leg and head room for average passengers. Ingress/egress is easy thanks to wide opening doors complimented by assist handles over three doors.
Ionic’s hatch cargo area is especially spacious. It’s rated at 26.5 cubic feet and measures 35 inches deep, 41 wide, and 30 high. Flip the 60/40 rear seatbacks and depth extends to 67 inches.
Ride wise, and considering it’s a short-wheelbased vehicle, Ionic has a taut, but not uncomfortable ride. Road feel is on the vague side but Ionic parks easily. Only severely scarred road surfaces reverberate into the cabin. Some road noise is discernable, especially with an open window.
Handling is fairly controlled when negotiating sharp turns or twisty roadways. Overall, Ionic is actually fun to drive.
Of all the comparable hybrids on the market, Ionic is one of the most affordable. With an extremely long list of standard safety and convenience features and items, the only extra cost option was $125 for carpeted floor mats. That took the base price of $24,950 to $25,960.
Aside from that attractive price, Hyundai offers a generous warranty 5 year, 60K new vehicle warranty, 10/100K powertrain, 10/100K hybrid system components warranty, lifetime battery warranty, 7/unlimited anti-perforation protection, and 5/unlimited mile roadside assistance coverage. You can’t go wrong with this coverage. It’s an incentive to buy a Hyundai. The only thing that could make Inonic Hybrid better is if it were offered with AWD for us here in the Snowbelt.