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2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Overview
Entering its second year in production, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric compact hatchback remains unchanged for 2018. One of three new Ioniq hatchbacks recently introduced by Hyundai, the Ioniq Electric shares its dedicated hybrid platform, exterior styling, interior features, and some mechanical parts with the Ioniq Hybrid and Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid hatchbacks. It also receives a number of unique features, such as a modified front end, a single-speed transmission, and a fast-charging capability unavailable on the other models. Currently sold only in California, the Ioniq Electric can travel up to 124 miles on electric power before requiring a charge—though Hyundai says it plans to increase the Electric's range to around 200 miles in the next few years. Until that day comes, its current range should prove adequate for most daily driving needs, and charging its battery at any public charge station can extend its range for longer trips.
A pure electric vehicle, the Ioniq Electric provides a number of benefits for owners. There's no need to ever stop at a gas station or change the oil or transmission fluid. The EV designation allows access to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on highways. Tailpipe emissions are zeroed out, and a federal tax credit helps to reduce its price tag. In addition, the electric powerplant provides instant torque for quick acceleration off the line.
The Ioniq Electric's powertrain features an 88 kilowatt electric motor generating 118 horsepower and 218 pound-feet of torque. By comparison, the new Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid comes equipped with a 45 kW electric motor capable of 60 hp, while the Ioniq Hybrid gets a 32 kW electric motor making 43 hp. The Electric's powertrain also includes a single-speed push-button transmission and a 28 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery located under the rear seat, compared to the 8.9 kWh battery in the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid and the 1.6 kWh battery in the Ioniq Hybrid. The powerplant achieves an MPGe of 136, making the Ioniq Electric the most efficient EV sold in the U.S.
Hyundai equips the Ioniq Electric with a 6.6 kW fast-charging port on its left rear side. It enables owners to charge the Electric's battery up to 80 percent in as little as 23 minutes using a Level 3 DC 100 kW charging station. Many current owners say this is their preferred method to charge their vehicles. Owners can also charge the battery at home in about 4 to 5 hours with a dedicated 220/240-volt outlet or overnight—9 to 13 hours—using a 110/120-volt standard household outlet. Using Hyundai's Blue Link app, owners can schedule charging times overnight during hours with low demand and lower rates. Drivers can use Blue Link to locate public parking spots with charging stations, too. Hyundai works with the ChargePoint electric vehicle charging network to provide owners with details on more than 33,000 charging stations nationwide.
Like the other Ioniq models, the Electric rides on a new hybrid front-wheel-drive (FWD) platform. However, to accommodate the Electric's larger battery, Hyundai switches out its multilink rear suspension used on the other Ioniq variants for a torsion-beam setup. All three share the same MacPherson strut suspension up front. Hyundai notes that positioning the battery underneath the rear seats ensures a low center of gravity, resulting in good overall balance and stability. Power-assisted steering with a quick steering ratio comes standard. The Electric's regenerative braking system uses a third-generation recuperating stopping system for lower friction and quieter operation than typical systems. Using paddles mounted on the steering wheel column, drivers can adjust the regenerative braking force for Normal, Eco, or Sport driving modes. The different modes either charge more when decelerating or lighten up on the charging feature for easier cruising and a more normal deceleration feel.
The Ioniq Electric displays a stylish, aerodynamic exterior design with a class-leading drag coefficient of just 0.24 Cd, allowing it to slip easily through the air. The use of aluminum in the hood and tailgate keeps the weight down, which helps to improve mileage. The Electric gets a unique front end with a sleek, clean look, because there's no need for a typical grille or air intakes. The sloping hatchback roofline creates an attractive side profile; although, it also reduces headroom for passengers in the rear seats.
For 2018, Hyundai offers the Electric in Base and Limited trims. Outside, both come standard with LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, heated side mirrors, and automatic headlights. The Limited adds HID headlights with Dynamic Bending Light, angling headlights in the direction of the wheels; chrome door handles, chrome side molding, and upgraded side mirrors with puddle lights and integrated turn signals. Both trims ride on 16-inch Eco-spoke wheels unique to the Electric. Exterior color choices remain limited to Ceramic White, Symphony Air Silver, and Electric Blue Metallic.
For a compact hatchback, the Ioniq offers an upscale, spacious cabin with seating for five passengers who will appreciate the efficient interior design, eco-friendly materials, and intuitive controls and technology. Even the Base trim comes well-equipped with standard features such as heated front seats, push-button start, automatic temperature control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Tech features include a 7.0-inch touchscreen, HD and Satellite Radio, and support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Limited adds leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat with memory, a larger 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, wireless device charging, a power sunroof, and an 8-speaker Infinity audio system, among other features. Both trims also include a 60/40-split rear seatback for cargo flexibility. With the seats up, the Electric offers 23 cubic feet of space in the trunk.
The Base trim comes equipped with such safety features as a reversing camera, driver's blind-spot side mirror, and all the expected features like airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability control, and hill-start assist. Buyers will have to step up to the Limited trim to get advanced safety features like smart cruise control, lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Given its recent introduction, the Ioniq has not yet been safety-rated by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
In addition to the typical 10-year 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-year 65,000-mile vehicle warranty for all its cars, Hyundai sells the Ioniq Electric with a lifetime warranty on the battery that the automaker notes in an industry exclusive. Hyundai also offers roadside assistance for five years.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.
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