Hyundai IONIQ Plug-In Hybrid Test Drive Review Nets 3 Of 5 Stars

2 months ago by Mark Kane 36

Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in

The Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in received the worst rating among the three IONIQ versions offered (conventional hybrid received four stars, while all-electric three-and-a-half star) by Autocar, netting just 3 of 5 stars.

Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in

The all-electric version, reviewed eight months ago, did not impress in terms of excitement, but it was deemed a solid value proposition.

The plug-in hybrid version comes last, but maybe still too early (despite already having been delayed almost a year over intial estimates), as the powertrain doesn’t seem to be polished enough.


Autocar: Hyundai’s take on the plug-in hybrid hatchback is a touch worthy and lacks polish to drive, but should deliver on everyday fuel efficiency


According to the review, Hyundai targets the IONIQ for those who are looking to purchase more affordable, practical and fuel efficient plug-in cars, with perhaps not the best performances or dynamics.

The all-electric range rather will not exceed 30 miles, while Autocar averaged 85.6 mpg over the drive. Electric motor power is enough for city driving at speeds of up to 50 mph, but needs the help of the gas engine to achieve hard acceleration thereafter (it can continue to drive all-electrically to much higher speeds if one desires/coddles it enough), which leads the outfit to state that the Ioniq PHEV “is ostensibly the same as the lesser hybrid, but for a much larger and more powerful lithium ion drive battery.”  

“The car is happy to cruise on electric power at motorway speed, but you need to rouse the combustion engine for meaningful acceleration here. It’s also a frustration that Hyundai doesn’t make it easier to drive up to the limits of electric power and keep the piston engine off via a haptic accelerator pedal or similar, even in EV mode.

Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in

Select Sport mode and an attempt is made to go beyond the kind of driving involvement you get from a typical economy car, but it’s a ham-fisted one. The car’s steering becomes leaden and cumbersome, the gearbox struggles to deliver peak performance with decent responsiveness, the wooden ride becomes crashy and the car’s increasingly precarious grip only announces itself in clearer terms.

But stick to HEV Hybrid mode once your electric range is depleted and the car’s easier to drive and feels more coherent. There’s very little connected feel from the steering and the usual artificial feel to the brake pedal which makes executing smooth stops trickier than it needs to be, but, so long as you’re interested most in how little you’re putting in the petrol tank, none of that need necessarily offend too much.”

Quick specs for IONIQ Plug-in:

  • 8.9 kWh battery up to over 50 kilometres (31 miles) in all-electric mode (estimated: around 25 miles/40km)
  • 45 kW (61 PS) electric motor and 1.6-litre GDI four-cylinder Kappa engine
  • 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 10.6 seconds
  • Top speed of 180 km/h (111 mph)

source: Autocar

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36 responses to "Hyundai IONIQ Plug-In Hybrid Test Drive Review Nets 3 Of 5 Stars"

  1. ggpa says:

    A much anticipated vehicle. If Prius Prime is any indication, these will sell very well.

    1. Davek says:

      One hopes so. FYI, there’s pricing information available for the Plugin here:

      https://www.hyundai.at/Beratung/Shopping-Tools/Build-Your-Own.aspx?model=IONIQ_Hybrid

      It’s just listed under the Hybrid as the PHEV, but there are the prices! Starting at 29 490€, at least in Austria. But given the relative prices for the EV (33 990€) and the Hybrid (24 990€) are also listed, you can basically extrapolate to the currency of your choosing. In any case, it looks like it’ll undercut the Prime (38 890€ in Austria) handily, which means it should be quite competitive! 3.5 stars be damned 😉

    2. Neal says:

      I test drove the Ioniq hybrid last month and the performance was really poor. However the Ioniq EV is completely different, a lot more acceleration. I bought the Ioniq EV and have no problem cruising the freeway to work at 75mph along side the Tesla’s (for 1/3 of the price).

  2. bro1999 says:

    So max EV speed is only 50 mph?? That means you can basically never drive it 100% electric on any highway? I hope this thing is not eligible for the CA green HOV sticker. Even the lousy Prius Plug-in could go 62 mph in EV mode.

    The Ioniq seems to basically be a slighty less crappy version of the Gen 1 Prius Prime!

    1. bro1999 says:

      Er, a slightly crappier version of a Gen 1 Prius Prime EV driving wise that has a bigger battery.

      1. ggpa says:

        Bro … I think you did not read carefully … It can go 50 mph (and probably faster), but acceleration becomes weak. Maybe you want to read the original article in Autocar

        Ditto for Prius plug in … which could not do EPA test cycle without starting gas engine

        1. bro1999 says:

          Car and Driver’s first paragraph describing their Ioniq PHV test drive:

          “The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq plug-in hybrid was fully charged, and Eco mode was selected. Pulling out onto a busy boulevard, we suppressed the urge to floor the accelerator, instead dipping maybe halfway into the pedal’s travel. And the engine fired up.”

          That pretty much sounds like a car that you won’t drive a ton of EV-only miles on.

          http://www.caranddriver.com/hyundai/ioniq

          1. ggpa says:

            Hmmmm … I see you are trying to change the topic.

            To my knowledge, all PHEVs start the gas engine when you push down hard on the pedal, with Volt as the only exception.

            Back to your original statement – max EVs is NOT 50 mph

            1. bro1999 says:

              Article should be updated then. Perhaps the 50 mph limit applies to the standard Hybrid?

              The Volt (both gens), Ford Energis, and Prius Prime for sure have “EV only” modes that prevent the ICE coming on…for the most part. Sounds like the Ioniq PHV doesn’t have such a mode?

              1. Jay Cole says:

                Yes, will make that a bit clearer – I can see how that could confuse, article was saying it is more than capable on all-electric power up to about 50 mph, then you need the gasser enabled to get any zip thereafter.

                It is not difficult to keep/force it well into highway speeds in “EV mode”, but you can’t go past a certain pedal threshold lest it goes ICE on you (which admittedly is kinda annoying to not have a true “force EV” mode).

                /sorry for any confusion there

    2. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      It’s so bad, that I’m questioning whether there’s an error, or they missed an EV-only mode.

      If it’s true, I’m sure that Toyota’s breathing a huge sigh of relief.

      1. bro1999 says:

        I read another test drive review that states there is an EV mode, but it frequently kicks back to Hybrid mode if you drive too aggressive.

        wtf is the point of EV mode then?
        http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/motoring/review-hyundai-ioniq-plug-in-a7731196.html

        1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

          Ah, that’s clearer:
          – The top EV speed is high enough that it can run in EV mode on the Interstate/motorway
          – But even in EV mode, the go pedal can cause it to run the engine.

          I guess we’ll eventually find out what exactly EV mode means.

  3. David Murray says:

    This is what I was afraid of after studying the design of the car. I suspect even the Ford Energi cars provide a better EV driving experience, despite their slow performance at higher speeds. And you can bet the Prius Prime certainly delivers a better experience. And while more expensive and thus not as much of a competitor, the Volt is an obvious better choice.

    1. bro1999 says:

      People wanting mostly all-electric driving need not apply…unless they never drive on the highway…ever.

    2. ggpa says:

      The Ford Energi cars that you mention drive great, but have real limitations in trunk space.

      The article does not mention trunk space — strange that anyone would write a PHEV review and not even mention that.

    3. Davek says:

      I more or less agree, although all of these cars have their weird quirks (read: flaws) that could be killers for various people. The Energi’s ridiculous trunk-invading batteries, the Prius’s high price and lack of a fifth seat… The Ioniq avoids these flaws, but it has one thing that I’m not sure I can overlook: zero rated roof load. I mean, I’m sure that I can safely mount a roof rack to the car, but I figure you can kiss your insurance goodbye if anything happens. I’ve been SUPER excited about this car, but not being able to transport more than two people plus skis or bikes is pretty catastrophic, in my opinion. The Volt would be the next best (or maybe even better) thing, but it’s not as well equipped, not as good looking (IMHO) and oh yeah, it’s not sold on my continent! So basically I’m left with no real option. I mean, there’s the Niro phev (eventually), bit it’s, to put it charitably, pretty plain looking and nowhere near as efficient at speed (I assume, just judging by Cd*A).

      As for the electric driving thing, I’ll have to wait for a test drive, but I’m hoping that it’s something that you can eventually get a feel for, especially if you keep a good eye on the power meter. This sounds like it was a pretty short test drive, and besides, it’s their job to find the car’s weaknesses, not put thought into how to live within them! That’s the customer’s job.

  4. Murrysville EV says:

    This car’s interior is too small, especially in the back.

    1. SparkEV says:

      … and it cannot tow a trailer.

  5. F150 Brian says:

    I can see the point of having a range of electrified vehicles from ICE with electric assist (traditional hybrid) to full BEV.

    But I see no point to a plug-in EV that you can’t do the daily commute to work on electricity only. These should be skipped in favour of range extended EVs.

    1. David Murray says:

      Well, I see the point of them. Which is to reduce gasoline usage. But they fail to give the driver an “EV experience” which is what I wanted more than gas savings.

  6. DJ says:

    I don’t get why they didn’t leave the more powerful motor in the car. Would have make it a much better car it sounds like.

    When you look at all the PHEVs out there you really do realize how much of a badass the Volt is in comparison drive wise (although it does have it’s own set of flaws). Full acceleration, full speed, etc. all with the benefit of all EV miles if you so chose.

    Maybe it’s this way because of the smaller pack they put in??

    1. DJ says:

      Meant to add, I really wonder how bad it is for the engine to just kick on and off for a few seconds here/there to help out with the acceleration.

      With most wear happening within a few seconds of an engine turning on and off even if they could keep it properly lubricated it’s gonna get cold which isn’t going to help so I have to imagine there will be more wear and tear right??

  7. James P Heartney says:

    My impression from this and other articles is that the plug-in version was an afterthought; they took their regular hybrid and made the battery bigger, while fiddling with the software a little to create a pseudo-EV mode that the car will abandon at slight prompting. Contrast this with the Volt, which is a true EV with a range extender.

    Theoretically, they could have started with the IONIQ EV, dropped some of the battery, and added a range extender. That would have created a more Volt-like vehicle. But instead it’s the hybrid with a bigger battery, that you can plug in.

  8. VF says:

    A visibly biased review, from reviewers who don’t know and don’t care about driving a phev other than in the trashing way they always drove other cars.

  9. john1701a says:

    68 kW (91 hp) for Prius Prime

    45 kW (60 hp) for Ioniq PHEV

    The difference is Prime can easily accelerate onto a 70 mph highway in just EV mode. No big deal. I do it on a regular basis without even needing to drop the pedal to the floor. And when I have tried, the engine has stayed off.

    Hyundai’s system simply doesn’t provide enough power for a hard acceleration, but it can still maintain a cruise at highway speeds.

    1. Jeff N says:

      Another big distinguishing feature is cabin heating in cold weather.

      The Prius Prime has a highly efficient heat pump system for warming the cabin while the Ioniq PHEV is entirely dependent upon the gas engine running to generating cabin heat.

      The Chevy Volt has less efficient resistive heating but has much more energy available from its larger battery.

      1. Davek says:

        So no resistive heating in the Plugin? That would be a shame… Instant heat is one of the nicer aspects of (PH)EV’s. Do you have a source on that, because I hadn’t read that anywhere.

        When I do a test drive I guess I’ll have to crank the heat in EV mode and see what happens 🙂

        1. Jeff N says:

          A ride-along Hyundai employee confirmed this to me while I was test driving the Ioniq PHEV earlier this year when I asked about cabin heating. Sure enough, I turned up the climate control temperature and the gas engine immediately started while we were gently driving down a city road at ~30 mph.

          The PHEV model isn’t coming out until late this year so most of the media attention has been focused on the non-plug hybrid and the BEV. The relatively few PHEV reviews I have seen haven’t really picked up on it’s weak motor power relative to its competitors (mentioned by John above). I haven’t seen any mention of the cabin heating issue in other review articles perhaps because the car is being tested in pleasant spring or summer weather.

          http://www.hybridcars.com/2017-hyundai-ioniq-review-first-drive/

  10. unlucky says:

    Very disappointing.

  11. M3 - reserved Niro - TBD says:

    hoping the EV drives on the Niro are better and specs toward 150+MI. PHEV is DOA unless priced a lot lower than prime.

  12. B.G. says:

    I will say that Hyundai and Kia are very untrustworthy companies. Oh, BTW, if you don’t already know, Hyundai and Kia are essentially the same company.
    I’m telling the public my opinion about them because I used to work for Hyundai and you can confirm with plenty of people that what I say is true.

    Don’t trust their claims about the mileage. They were fined in the past for falsified MPG on the Monroney sticker. After they said they corrected the problem, NONE of the vehicles I drove EVER came close to the MPG claims on the window sticker.

    If you have an account with their finance company, good luck. I saw an account that was a paid off lease but, for some reason, still had a penny ($0.01) due on it. It was automatically reported to the credit bureaus as delinquent. There are many many more issues like this with accounts but, obviously, they public never hears about them.

    Their cars are inexpensive with lots of nice features and options that you would pay extra for in other brands. You get what you pay for. Don’t trust them.

  13. Bob Nan says:

    As per the Hyundai’s specs, Ioniq-Plugin has 119 cu. ft. of interior space and is much bigger than Prius Prime or Chevy Volt. If it has the stated 30 mile range, then it may cost more than $28K. But Ioniq-Electric is priced only at $30K and so the plugin version should be somewhere between 28K – 30K. It will go on sale in fall.
    Lets see.

  14. Spoonman. says:

    FWIW my C-Max Energi easily gets to highway speeds without maxing out the motor. What does kick on the engine annoyingly is the defroster.

    In a year I’ve only accelerated beyond EVmode once, and that’s with driving in its “Auto EV” mode, not the one where it truly lets you max out the motor (EV Now).

  15. Genoauto says:

    Driving a Prius Prime for 3 months now and can’t tell difference in drive between EV or hybrid mode. Getting 27to30 miles in EV mode. Big improvement in drive over 2010 Prius and very pleased, with reliability still an open question.

  16. jim stack says:

    The Lifetime battery is note worthy.
    It’s also a fair priced plugin with a great city EV range and decent sized for passengers. 10 year vehicle warranty too.

    What over automaker has a Lifetime battery warranty?

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