“A lot of automakers utilize a family look,” said Hak Soo Ha, Hyundai vice president and head of the automaker’s North American design studio a few minutes into his presentation on the 2023 Ioniq 6. “But that's a euphemism for these companies to say ‘Hey, we don't want to invest in research and tooling. We just want to make cookie-cutter cars.’ Even Tesla, it's all kind of the same language.”
If them sounds like fightin' words, you're damn right they are. Hyundai's second all-electric effort, while arguably less relevant than the Ioniq 5 – because who actually buys four-door sedans nowadays? – is a more conventional broadside aimed at brands like Tesla, Polestar, and to a lesser extent, BMW. And Hak is right, this does not look like a cookie-cutter car. But just like two delicious snickerdoodles, shape has little impact on how tasty a treat something is, and the Ioniq 6 doesn’t “taste” all that different than what came before.
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|2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited AWD
|Dual Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motors
|320 Horsepower / 446 Pound-Feet
Gallery: 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6: First Drive
Add The Right Ingredients
What, pray tell, do I mean? Well, get past the shape and the mechanicals here have a tremendous amount in common with the Ioniq 5. There are three trims (SE, SEL, and Limited) and at launch, all come standard with a 77.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and the option of a single-motor rear-drive layout or a dual-motor all-wheel-drive setup. A rear-drive SE with a smaller 53.0-kWh pack will arrive “in limited quantities” after the initial spring 2023 on-sale date.
Output for the two 77.4-kWh variants matches the Ioniq 5 (225 horsepower and 258 pound-feet with the single motor and 320 hp and 446 lb-ft for the dual-motor), while the 53.0-kWh model packs 149 hp and 258 lb-ft (the standard-range Ioniq 5 SE has a 58.0-kWh pack, 168 hp, and 258 lb-ft).
The similarities extend well beyond the all-electric powertrain, too. Both Ioniqs use a McPherson strut front/multi-link rear suspension layout (although the tuning/geometry is obviously different for the 6), carry 12.8-inch brake discs at all four corners, and have virtually identical steering ratios. The same drive modes and regenerative brake settings are on hand, too. The good news, then is that any customer that's familiar with an E-GMP model can slide right into the newest Ioniq and feel comfortable immediately. The bad news is that the drive experience just isn't that unique.
I spent a day testing the dual-motor Ioniq 6 Limited on the roads around Scottsdale, Arizona, and came away lukewarm on its straight-line performance. Mat the accelerator pedal and the Ioniq 6 delivers the EV-typical surge of immediate torque – being pushed into the seat as the car leaps ahead is an addictive in-car sensation – but as quickly as things start, the torque tapers off and there's little left to do but watch the numbers on the speedometer change. And they just don't change that quickly in the Ioniq 6.
Hyundai cites a sprint to 62 miles per hour of 5.1 seconds for the dual-motor model, which is well off the Tesla Model 3 Long Range and dual-motor Polestar 2 (4.2 seconds for Elon’s entry and 4.5 standard in the Swede). I'd forgive this lack of pace if the Ioniq did something else to spice up the accelerative experience, but there's simply not a lot going on here.
Unfortunately, the slick conditions and relatively straight Arizona roads kept me from exploring the Ioniq 6's handling abilities. Still, the drive route did demonstrate the Ioniq 6's firmer ride. The Limited's standard 20-inch wheels wear skinny 40-series tires, but even on some of the rougher surfaces, the Ioniq 6 maintained a competitive level of composure. The steering isolation was excellent, too.
Make Up Your Own Mind
If you're reading this and wondering when I'll address the way the Ioniq 6 looks, well, here we are. But since you probably have a brain and possess the gift of sight, I'm not going to try to change your mind about its exterior design. All I'll say is that the 6 looks better in person and that I can forgive any number of questionable styling details for this sort of aerodynamic efficiency.
Inspired by the shape of a smoothed-out river stone according to Hyundai Design Center America boss Hak Soo Ha, the 6 has a drag coefficient of just 0.22 with the standard 18-inch wheels and 0.25 for the available 20s – the Model 3 slips through with a 0.23 and the Polestar has a relatively brick-like 0.28. But also, the curvy body looks much smaller than it really is.
The 116.1-inch wheelbase is 4.3 inches longer than the mid-size Hyundai Soanta, but nose to tail, the 6 is nearly two inches down on that mainstream sedan. The result is an impressively roomy cabin in a relatively compact form.
The Ioniq 6’s backseat has a 4.4-inch legroom advantage over the Sonata, so there's little surprise it's so accommodating for the long-legged. It easily exceeds the Polestar 2, Tesla Model 3, and BMW i4, too, although the Ioniq's swooping roofline – and its attendant headroom reduction – is slightly down on the competition. So while leggy folks will be happy, those of tall torso or long necks will struggle.
But open the door via the same pop-out door handles found on the Ioniq 5 and EV6, and the cabin doesn't make the same impact. Where the first E-GMP cars felt expansive and modern thanks to their flat, open floors, the Ioniq 6 returns to a more cockpit-like approach, with a floating bridge center console that eats into space and feels, well, antiquated. You'll still get the same flat floor in the back, but combined with the lower roofline and choptop greenhouse, the Ioniq 6 feels a little claustrophobic.
That's especially true from the driver's seat, where my head had a mere inch or two of space. Folks over 6-foot-2 will need to slouch. Auto writer hat off, I'm also annoyed at how the Ioniq 6's seating position fails to capitalize on the body's sporty character or the high beltline. I want to drop down so my butt is on the floor when I climb aboard. But the seating position will work for most consumers – it's easy to get into and out of, and the forward and lateral sightlines are quite good for the body style.
Beyond those changes demanded by the Ioniq 6's shape, the cabin is familiar territory. It's a hushed place – better than the Ioniq 5, owing to the slippery shape – but doesn't spice things up much. The two-spoke steering wheel, brake-regen paddles, and column-mounted gear selector are fine, and the dual 12.3-inch displays (instrument cluster outboard, touchscreen at the center) are one of the best arrangements in the game. That said, the similarity to the Ioniq 5 and the broader E-GMP family feels a little disappointing. I can settle for the Ioniq 6's cabin or drive experience to underwhelm relative to its evocative shape, but not both.
That's The Way The Cookie Crumbles
Style typically carries a premium even if there’s little other advantage, but at least Hyundai isn't asking a great deal more for the Ioniq 6 than it is for the Ioniq 5. Prices, including an $1,115 destination charge, start at $42,715 for the standard-range, single-motor SE (sans any federal, state, or local tax credits that may or may not be available). The larger battery adds $3,900, while the dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain is $3,500 and must be ordered with the big power pack.
I won't rehash our full range/price breakdown, but the single-motor Ioniq 6 SE is a fine bargain with a class-leading 361-mile range (with the larger battery) and a starting price of $46,615. But parking my Ioniq 6 Limited AWD tester in your driveway requires $57,215, and that's a tough pill to swallow. For a start, its 270-mile range and 5.1-second sprint to 62 trails either of the dual-motor Tesla models and ties the dual-motor Polestar 2, which is six- to nine-tenths of a second quicker to 60. Both of those cars are more affordable to start, too (although adding options does drive the price up past the Ioniq 6).
That said, the Ioniq 6 has a much higher DC charge rate than the PS2. The 800-volt architecture allows peak charge rates of around 250 kilowatts and a charge time of just 18 minutes from five to 80 percent SoC. The Polestar 2 can only manage 155 kilowatts. Again, though, Tesla presents a strong challenge, aided as always by the ubiquitous Supercharger network.
The Ioniq 6 simply isn't the slam-dunk obvious choice that the Ioniq 5, our Editors' Choice Star Award winner, is. Where the 5 makes good financial sense, is entertaining to drive for what it is, and has fist-bitingly attractive styling, the Ioniq 6 doesn't feel as straight-forward of a value. Its beauty, too, will rest in the eye of the beholder. It's a fine car and a worthy entry in a small, lifestyle-oriented segment, but this Hyundai doesn't quite do enough across the board to earn anything more than a half-hearted recommendation.
Ioniq 6 Competitor Reviews:
- Polestar 2: 8.3 / 10
- Tesla Model 3: Not Rated
2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited AWD