Hyundai’s long-awaited Ioniq is here and fans of the Prius should take note. Long the leader in fuel efficiency, Toyota’s ubiquitous Prius has now been unseated as fuel economy’s top dog by a better looking, more fun-to-drive hatchback from its Korean competitor. Who saw that coming?
Well, Hyundai did since it definitely had the Prius in its sights all through the Ioniq’s development process. How successful has Hyundai been? Consider the mpg figures: The Ioniq Hybrid Blue model has an EPA-estimated 58 MPG combined rating, the highest of any non-plug-in vehicle sold in the country. The Prius Eco delivers 56 combined mpg.
The Ioniq was designed from the beginning to fit the needs of mainstream buyers with very diverse needs. Want a hybrid? Buy the model above starting at $22,200. Battery electric? That’s available as well, at a base of $29,500. And those who prefer the benefits of both electric and hybrid drive can opt for the Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid that’s coming up next, at an as-yet unannounced – but surely competitive – price.
But look, it really isn’t just about fuel economy. High mpg numbers will interest a certain segment of buyers. But there needs to be much more to attract a wide swath of consumers looking for everything from style, comfort, and connectivity to safety, value, and of course efficiency. Delivering all this becomes crucial, especially in an era where gas prices are low enough to make fuel efficiency less important on the car buyer’s checklist than, say, the availability of safety-enhancing driver assist systems or advanced connectivity features.
A recent drive in hybrid and electric Ioniq variants convinced us this new model meets those needs. Both offered a fun-to-drive nature with solid driving dynamics, a comfortable interior, and all the requisite connectivity. Drivers will appreciate the Ioniq’s Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Blue Link capabilities for integrating with their smartphones, plus handy wireless smartphone charging. A high-resolution 7-inch TFT display presents key driver information. The Ioniq’s advanced safety systems include ones helpful every day like lane departure warning, blind spot detection, and rear cross-traffic alert, plus ones you hope are never needed but are there if you do like automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
Hyundai’s new do-it-all hatch offers a welcome connection with the driving experience and satisfying performance, characteristics not always adequately delivered by very high mpg vehicles. It’s not a niche car aimed at early adopters or those who want to make an environmental statement. Rather, it’s a stylish, fun to drive, and connected car for the masses that delivers environmental performance as a matter of course. Hyundai’s decision to offer hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric choices is strategic and will certainly encourage purchase consideration among a wide swath of buyers. The Ioniq will find a ready market because it is the real deal.