Completing the Green Trifecta
With the arrival of the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq PHEV, Hyundai’s Ioniq now offers three green models—hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and all-electric. This provides complete flexibility for your lifestyle and travel needs.
Plug-in hybrid vehicles eliminate any real or perceived limitations of electric-only cars while providing the advantages of local all-electric motoring. With an 8.9 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery tucked under the rear seat driving a 45 kW (60 horsepower) motor, the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq PHEV provides 29 miles of pure electric motoring—enough for most commutes and errand-running. However, if you need to drive further, the 1.6-liter, 104-horsepower Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine kicks in, giving the Ioniq PHEV a range of more than 650 miles. Combined system horsepower is 139.
The EPA fuel economy numbers are 119 MPGe with electricity and gasoline, and 52 mpg when driven as a hybrid alone. The Green scores are laudable 7 for Smog and a perfect 10 for Greenhouse Gas.
Perfect for My Driving
My Ceramic White test vehicle proved perfect for the way I drive and live. With an 18-mile commute each way, I charged at home and at work, so I used essentially no gasoline during the work week. Over 328.9 miles, I averaged a spectacular 130 miles per gallon, accounting for the few times when I drove further than my commute distance.
When the battery is depleted, the engine kicks in, but it’s not very obtrusive. And, because the Ioniq features a six-speed dual-clutch transmission instead of the continuously-variable one found in most other hybrids, it’s more engaging to drive and natural sounding. I heard the engine come on a few times when the battery still had some juice in it, although I was hoping for all-electric driving as much as possible.
EV charging is generally slow, but in a PHEV, the battery is much smaller than a pure EV. Official charging times are two hours and 18 minutes for Level 2 (240-volt) chargers and under nine hours for Level 1 household current. I filled the battery by 11 a.m. at work on Level 2 and at home overnight on Level 1.
The Button Changes Its Personality
You can choose Sport or Eco with the touch of a button. Sport holds the gears longer for quicker acceleration, but I avoided it, in my goal of attempting to achieve the best possible fuel economy score for the week.
It’s natural to compare the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq PHEV to the long-established Toyota Prius. It’s about the same size and configuration, but while the Prius offers the original hybrid model plus a plug-in Prime model, there is no all-electric version. In addition, the most recent Prius’s styling is extreme and polarizing, while the Ioniq is a much more normal-looking vehicle.
The Ioniq’s clean exterior earns a stellar 0.24 cd, meaning it moves through the air more cleanly than most other cars on the road. Some aluminum is used in areas such as the hood for weight reduction. Other parts of the car are carefully “lightweighted” for efficiency’s sake as well.
The Inside Story
The interior is pleasant to be in. The door panels and dash look more traditional than the Prius and feel substantial. The 7.0-inch center screen is especially easy and intuitive to use. My Apple CarPlay loaded immediately, and the audio system delivered high-quality sound and effortless selection along with favorite storage.
The instrument panel provides traditional gauge information and also the usual EV feedback—Charge, Eco, and Power—to help you manage your driving. You can watch the energy flow in the larger center screen or as a small image right behind the steering wheel.
For an ecological touch, the interior door panels combine powdered wood and volcanic stone with the plastic, and the headliner and carpet contain some materials derived from the sugar cane plant. These may be more significant for their marketing value, but it’s still something. The exterior paint uses some soybean oil, to complete the eco picture.
The Bottom Line
Choose from two models of the Korea-built 2018 Hyundai Ioniq PHEV–base and Limited. The latter includes strategically placed leather on the inside and blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert for extra safety. The Limited weighs 100 pounds more then the base car, at 3,417 pounds. It also offers the Ultimate Package, with a long list of safety and convenience features ($3,750). My tester had it, and it was packed with things like a sunroof, smart cruise control, and headlamps with the “Dynamic Bending Light Function.”
The base 2018 Hyundai Ioniq PHEV starts at $25,835, and the Limited’s price is $29,135; both include shipping. My tester, with the option package and floor mats, came to $33,080.
One of the biggest actions you can take to help the climate is driving an electric car. Hyundai’s Ioniq line give you three options, for whatever level of commitment you choose to make.
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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