2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

Style

The Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid is a five-passenger, four-door compact hatchback. For most shoppers, the design of the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid will have more appeal than the Prius Prime, its closest plug-in competitor on price and range. While the Prius broadcasts its green-ness, the Ioniq blends in with Hyundai’s mainstream line-up of vehicles—like the Elantra and Sonata.

Considering its quasi-sporty appearance, you would never suspect that the Ioniq’s drag coefficient is a slippery 0.24 cd—just about as aerodynamic as you can get. Making a car that moves so well through air requires a teardrop profile and a curved roofline. Fortunately, the Ioniq adds an element of solidity by integrating a high spoiler into the rear glass hatchback. Unlike the all-electric Ioniq that closes off the front fascia, the plug-in variant uses a conventional grille.

Beauty is subjective, so plug-in hybrid shoppers should compare the looks of the Ioniq with the Toyota Prius and the crossover Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid. If you’re willing to spend more for a larger vehicle, also consider the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, Ford Fusion Energi, or Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid.

Performance

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

The Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid uses the same 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine used in the conventional, no-plug Ioniq Hybrid. The engine produces 104 horsepower and 109 pound-feet of torque. The six-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox can manage propulsion only from combustion, solely from the 60-horsepower electric motor, or using a combination from the two power sources. Total system output is a respectable 139 horsepower.

Hyundai has been committed for a decade to using a traditional geared transmission in its hybrids, rather than an unresponsive continuously variable transmission. The result is a “normal” drive feel from the Ioniq. You feel a familiar revving and shifting from one gear to the next.

The plug-in hybrid Ioniq’s 60-horsepower electric motor provides just enough oomph for all-electric operations—mostly oriented toward easy stop-and-go traffic. For comparison, the Prius Prime uses a stronger 102-horsepower motor. The Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid’s relative anemic motor explains why Car and Driver says it’s sometimes challenging to keep the car in EV mode, even when the 8.9-kilowatt-hour battery has juice. In basic terms, the motor needs help from the four-cylinder gas engine.

As with many plug-in cars, there are multiple modes: EV, HEV Hybrid, and Sport. This will enable drivers to adjust the power output to the desired level. It will also allow some degree of control regarding how easily and frequent the gasoline engine is brought into service.

Efficiency/Range

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

In the plug-in hybrid version of the Ioniq, an 8.9-kilowatt-hour battery pack provides enough stored energy for about 29 miles of all-electric driving. Of course, a light foot on the accelerator will extend that range, while a sportier use of the go-pedal will drain the energy faster.

The Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid is light and aerodynamic, so it has a fantastic fuel economy rating of 119 MPGe. After the pack is depleted, the Ioniq offers a remarkable 52 miles per gallon of gasoline. So even if you can’t charge throughout the day, the 11.4-gallon gasoline tank will last you a good while. The total driving range is 630 miles.

For comparison, the Prius Prime has 25 miles of all-electric range and grants 54 miles to the gallon after the pack is depleted. A step up in size (although down in looks, from our perspective) is the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, which tops the field for electric range at 47 miles.

Charging

The Hyundai Ioniq’s charging times are standard in the marketplace. Using a Level 2, 240-volt charging will replenish an empty battery to full in about two hours and 15 minutes. Plug the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid into a 110-volt household outlet to fully recharge from empty in nine hours.

Passenger/Cargo Room

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

The Ioniq comfortably seats five passengers and offers a generous amount of interior space. For comparison, the Ioniq offers five more cubic feet than a Prius liftback.

Edmunds says the Ioniq’s driver seat is as comfortable or “a tick above” its competitors—although some reviewers complain about short front seats and limited headroom in the back row. Nonetheless, reviewers consistently praise buttons and controls as logical and easy to use. The seven-inch center touchscreen does not dominate the dash—as is found with oversized tablet-like controls in competing models.

Standard equipment is generous. The list includes keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, and both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Wireless Qi charging is optional, as is a larger eight-inch touchscreen. An upgrade to the Limited trim adds leather seats.

Safety

The hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Hyundai Ioniq were named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS gave the Ioniq the highest rating of Good in six crash tests and the second-highest rating of Acceptable for how well the headlights brightened the road ahead. Models equipped with the optional automatic emergency braking have a Superior rating for front crash prevention.

The model has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

All Ioniq models come standard with driver’s blind spot mirror, a rearview camera, brake assist, and remote keyless entry system with alarm.

Price

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

The Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid’s most significant advantage is its low price. It starts at $26,300, with a step up to the Limited trim offered for $30,300.

Standard features include heated side mirrors, LED taillights and daytime running lights, automatic headlight control, dual automatic temperature control, rear window defroster, premium cloth seating, heated front seats, 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback, leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, and proximity key entry with push-button start.

The Limited variant adds xenon headlights and adds power-folding side mirrors with puddle lamps, chrome exterior trim, a sunroof, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, driver-seat memory settings, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, interior ambient lighting, and rear air vents. Infotainment upgrades include wireless device charging, a larger eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, and an eight-speaker Infinity audio system.

A $3,000 Ultimate Package adds such goodies as a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, navigation system with an 8-inch color touchscreen display, and premium audio.

The Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid is available in all 50 states. It comes with a lifetime warranty on the battery.

The Hyundai Motor Group, which includes the Kia brand, plans to introduce 44 electrified models by 2025. A new long-range dedicated EV platform is expected in 2020.

Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid specifications

Availability: Now
Base MSRP: $26300
Est. tax credit: $4500
Technology: Plug-in Hybrid
Body type: Sedan
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 29 miles electric + gasoline
Battery size: 9 kWh
Charging rate: 3.0 kW

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