2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric review – Roadshow

The advent of the Chevrolet Bolt and upcoming Tesla Model 3 points to a new era of practical, high-range, mass-market electric vehicles. Although the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric’s EPA range of 124 miles falls far short of the 200-plus-mile benchmark set by those competitors, I never felt range anxiety while driving it.

In fact, the Ioniq Electric outperformed its own range estimations by a considerable margin, and actually proved an engaging car to drive.

Hyundai spawned triplets with its Ioniq model, offering this midsize hatchback as a gasoline-electric hybrid, electric and a plug-in hybrid, the latter due next year. The Ioniq Electric, as the name suggests, relies on a pure-electric drivetrain combining a 28-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and 88-kilowatt motor turning the front wheels.

Look in the rearview mirror or open the hatchback, and there’s a touch of Prius here, due to the horizontally split back glass. Hyundai can claim aerodynamic efficiency for using this design, which gives the Ioniq an impressive .24 coefficient of drag. That same excuse can be given for the glossy black nose cone in place of a grille, reminiscent of the Tesla Model S‘ previous design.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

With a high hatchback and horizontally split back glass, there is something Prius-like in the Ioniq Electric’s design.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

With its leather-wrapped steering wheel, seats and dashboard, the Ioniq Electric’s cabin shows upscale Hyundai aesthetics. Buttons on the lower left turn on some of the car’s driver assistance features and open the charge port, while the center dashboard holds an 8-inch touchscreen for the navigation, stereo and phone systems. The row of buttons beneath that touchscreen, which give quick access to map, phone and media, impressed me with their metal edges and solid feel.

Unlike cars of the past, the Ioniq Electric gets by with a single analog gauge on the instrument panel, the speedometer, bracketed by LCDs that show battery level and power use. And forget shifters, which even in modern gasoline cars are merely electronic controls, the Ioniq Electric uses a clever button pod for Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive. It didn’t take me long to learn it by feel, as Hyundai arranges the buttons well.

On the center touchscreen I found Hyundai’s standard cabin electronics tweaked slightly for the Ioniq Electric’s drivetrain. This system works very responsively and uses an easily understood, straightforward interface. On top of that, it also supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which present a modified mirror of the Android and iPhone interfaces on the main screen, giving access to the phone’s own navigation, calling and music apps.

The navigation system provides solid route guidance, complete with traffic avoidance, but the car lacks a head-up display for turn-by-turn directions. Navigation includes Google online destination search and, in a nod towards the electric drivetrain, a distance-sorted list of charging stations. Unfortunately, that list doesn’t provide the kind of detail offered by Plugshare, which could make on-the-go charging frustrating.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

This range map in the Ioniq Electric looks impressive, but doesn’t take into account actual road miles. 

Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

A set of electric vehicle-specific screens also showed me how efficiently I was driving, how many miles per kilowatt-hour I was getting and how far I could go given my remaining range. That last screen just uses direct distance from the car’s location, so doesn’t take into account real road miles.

The Ioniq Electric also let me schedule its charging time to take advantage of periods when electricity costs less. Hyundai says a full charge takes 4 hours and 25 minutes on a 220 volt Level 2 charger, the kind you can install in your home, but can also use its Level 3 Combo charger to restore 80 percent of its battery level in half an hour from a public station.

My one gripe with charging is the port’s location, on the left rear fender. Most new electric cars put the charge port up front, so you can nose into a parking space with a charger. The Ioniq Electric forces you to back in.

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