The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq First Drive Review- Three Shades of Green

Hyundai Ionic

The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq is actually three different vehicles on the same platform. Hyundai invited us to the monsoon known as Central California to sample the 2017 Hyundai Ionic in all three forms. There is an all-electric version, a hybrid and, coming in the summer of 2017, the plug-in hybrid. Each vehicle shares many of the same components including a vast majority of the interior and electronics.

Each one has a unique personality. Each one has a dual-pane rear glass with no rear wiper. It would cause aerodynamic issues, but in snow country, it would be an asset despite the disruption to the slippery o.24 coefficient of drag.

The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq is based on a unique platform and the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq hybrid shares its platform drivetrain with its cousin, the Kia Niro. This platform is supposed to underpin several electric or electrically augmented vehicles (from Hyundai and Kia) by 2020. Currently, no other brand packages their hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars using the same vehicle, it’s a good bet Hyundai’s method will be copied.

Here are the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq basics:

Hyundai Ionic

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid – All 2017 Hyundai Ioniq hybrids are powered by a 1.6L GDI Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder engine. It makes 104 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque. There is a 240 V Lithium-ion Polymer battery pack with a capacity of 1.56 kWh. A 32 kW Electric Motor makes 43 horsepower and 124 lb-feet of torque. After some power reduction, the hybrid’s pull comes to a decent 139 hp combined.

Contrary to Toyota’s (and many other automaker’s) CVT philosophy, the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq comes with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq hybrid “Blue” is EPA-rated at 57 mpg city and 59 mpg highway. The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid “SEL” and “Limited” are rated at 55 mpg city and 54 mpg highway.

Its base price of $22,200 is significantly less than the base Toyota Prius ($24,685).

Driving – Hyundai added a multilink, independent rear suspension to the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq hybrid – and it was the right call; the ride and handling are superb for this class. Aside from being piloted through rain-soaked roads, the route Hyundai chose for journalists included potholes, broken pavement and uneven surfaces.

The regenerative braking system is one of the most “regular-feel/car-like” that I have tested. That’s a good thing.

The front seats were plush and comfortable. Hyundai used fibrous components of sugarcane and bits of volcanic rock along with lots of recycled plastics in the making of the interior. It feels like a more premium interior than the price would suggest.

The transmission was smooth and downshifts were lightning fast. It made the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq feel a lot more like a conventional car. There was a tad bit of noise coming from the purpose-built Michelin Primacy MXM4 225/45R17 (the other Ioniq vehicles come with Michelin Energy Saver A/S 205/55R16 tires – which feel and sound about the same), but the comfort and grip on all three Ioniq(s) was impressive. It performed well in rain too.

My only performance gripe was the super light steering (on all three vehicles). It’s a motor-driven power steering (MDPS) column mounted, rack-and-pinion, power assisted system. While some commuters will appreciate the low effort steering, I like more heft and (at least) a simulated steering feel. The Prius and Prius Prime have a better steering feel.

Hyundai Ionic

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid – The plug-in hybrid has many of the same components as the regular hybrid, like the same 1.6L GDI Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder gas engine. The big difference comes from its beefier 44.5 kW Electric Motor that’s powered by a 360 V Lithium-ion Polymer battery pack with 8.9 kWh battery capacity.

Driving – Charge it up with a Level 2 – 220/240V charger (it takes about 2 1/2 hours if you’re totally empty) and you’ll get “Greater than 27 miles” of all electric range, according to Hyundai. Its overall range is over 600 miles on a tank of gas (11.9 gallons for the hybrid and 11.4 gallons for the plug-in).

While the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid I drove was still a prototype, it felt exactly the same as the regular hybrid. I never felt the change from electric to gas power, it was almost seamless. While the plug-in is a heavier car, it still has the terrific independant rear suspension and top-notch road manners.

Numbers like EPA mpg numbers and price were unavailable during the press event.

If Hyundai can undercut the Toyota Prius Prime the same way they usurped the regular Prius, the Ioniq Plug-in could be a hell of a bargain. The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid and Electric are already hitting a few dealerships (the Ioniq Electric is coastal for now), but the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid waits until the summer of 2017.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric – The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric is has an 88-kW electric motor that makes 118 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. A 28 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack provides an estimated 124 miles of range. A single-speed reduction gear transmission is unique to the Ioniq Electric. It also differentiates the interior as its a nice-looking push-button setup where the gear selector normally resides.

It’s rated at 136 MPGe.

Driving – While Hyundai used a torsion-beam rear suspension to save space for the batteries, it doesn’t feel any different in regular driving. Push it hard through a corner, then you feel it shimmy unlike the planted independant rear suspension on the hybrids.

Hyundai Ionic

Sure, the electric power is quiet and smooth on delivery, it’s surprisingly similar to the other Ioniq vehicles. That is to say, Hyundai dialed in the power delivery to feel just as easy-on-easy-off as the hybrids do without the punchy nature some electric rides display.

The absolutely best part of the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric’s driving experience has to be its slick paddle brake augmenters. Yep, “paddles.” No, it’s not for shifting or any of that silliness, it controls the resistance of the regenerative braking system. Simply put: tug on the left paddle and the regenerative brakes lightly apply as you release your foot from the accelerator pedal. At its maximum resistance, you come to a complete stop fairly quickly simply by releasing the accelerator. The maximum setting feels a lot like the BMW i3 or an Autopia car at Disneyland. Simply click the right paddle to loosen up the resistance. It’s slick.

Charging (from empty) takes 4 hours 25 minutes using Level 2 220/240V. With DC Fast Charging, you can charge up to 80% in 23 minutes (100 kW) or 80% in 30 minutes (50 kW).

The base price for the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric is $29,500. That’s less than the equivalent Nissan Leaf and, at $36,620 the Chevrolet Bolt is much more expensive. Keep in mind: the Chevrolet Bolt has a much longer range.

Hyundai Ionic

The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq, in all forms, has 60/40 split rear seats that fold flat. Not only is the Ioniq spacious for all passengers, it has best-in-class interior space and even trumps its taller, boxier cousin the Kia Niro for interior space.

Unencumbered by extra batteries and whatnot, the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid has 26.5 cubic feet of cargo space while the plug-in and electric have 23.8 cu-ft. Overall passenger volume is the same on all three vehicles at 96.2 cu-ft. More important to me was the overall design of the interior. Two colors, black and gray are available, but the important components truly feel primum and look good too. There’s no need to overstate the fact that these are green cars. The interior would look at home in a Sonata and only the 7-inch TCP LCD IP display and 8-inch multimedia screen tell others that these cars are unique.

Still, you get things like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a rearview camera, and a dual-zone climate control – standard.

Hyundai Ionic

The exterior design on all three vehicles is nearly the same, except for the grill. The Hybrid and plug-in are similar, but the electric has no grill, just a solid plastic component that covers everything. The Ioniq smacks of last generation’s Prius mixed with the new Hyundai Elantra. Still, it’s easy on the eyes and nowhere near as polarizing as the new Toyota Prius.

Hyundai made a bold green statement with all three of these vehicles. We look forward to getting all three 2017 Hyundai Ioniq vehicles up to Colorado soon.

Check out my Hyundai Ioniq Electric video review below!