by Aiden Eksteen
In the midst of growing pressure from a swarm of new EV offerings, Hyundai's fully electric version of the Ioniq cracks into 2020 with an updated design, powertrain, and a comprehensive selection of new features in an attempt to stay relevant. It still forms part of the first Ioniq Electric generation introduced for the 2017 model year but with its new enhancements and alterations offers a more modern aesthetic, and an extended all-electric driving range of 170 miles. The front wheels of the Ioniq Electric are powered by a 100kW AC electric motor and 38.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, with increased outputs of 134 horsepower and 218 lb-ft of torque for the new year. Unfortunately, even with its significant upgrades, the Ioniq Electric still doesn't quite measure up to the likes of the Nissan Leaf or worse still, the Tesla Model 3. Even so, the Ioniq Electric is a left-field choice with more to offer than ever before, and as such, may deliver elsewhere where the competition does not.
Hyundai applied an extensive amount of meaningful enhancements and alterations to the Ioniq Electric coming into the 2020 model year. These include significant powertrain upgrades where outputs have been increased from 118 hp to 134, a larger 38.3 kWh battery pack replaces last years 28 kWh battery pack and extends the Ioniq's all-electric range from 124 miles to 170, finally, a new, higher capacity 7.2-kW charger replaces the old 6.6-kW unit resulting in shortened charging times. The SE model now comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen and the Limited with a 10.25-inch touchscreen and Harman Kardon sound system. Hyundai's SmartSense driver-assistance system has also been made standard across the board. Finally, Hyundai also applied some exterior and interior cosmetic changes and supplied two new paint options, Stellar Silver and Electric Shadow.
The Ioniq Electric's new gray closed front grille is the most noticeable alteration on the refreshed 2020 model, it features a scale-like pattern and is bordered with chrome accenting that shoots out to underscore the new LED headlights that feature LED daytime running lights and automatic headlight control. These are supported by chevron-styled LED fog lights and a new front fascia, both Ioniq Electric models ride atop 16-inch eco-spoke alloy wheels and feature new black side sill moldings, LED taillamps, and a new rear fascia, but the Limited gets extra chrome detailing to set it apart.
In comparison with the Ioniq Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid, the Ioniq Electric differs only in height, ground clearance, and curb weight. Its overall body length of 176 inches and wheelbase of 106.3 inches are otherwise identical across the board, along with its overall width of 71.7 inches. Its height of 58.1 inches makes it 1.2 inches taller than the hybrids while its 5.9-inch ground clearance means it also rides 0.6 inches further from the ground. With the SE carrying a curb weight of 3,164 lbs and the Limited one of 3,285 lbs, the Ioniq Electric is around 150 pounds heavier than the Ioniq Hybrid.
The same five exterior paint colors are available to both trims of the Ioniq Electric, it's not a very diverse palette but with Electric Shadow and Stellar Silver being new additions for 2020, there's now one more option than what there was for the 2019 year models, accounting for the discontinuation of Symphony Air Silver. Black Noir Pearl and Intense Blue are otherwise carried over from last year along with Ceramic White which carries an additional charge of $300. With the updated styling, we feel Intense Blue is the best of the lot, although Black Noir Pearl does a stellar job of contrasting with the restyled gray 'grille'.
Typically, commuter-type electric vehicles aren't known to prioritize acceleration, though the Ioniq Electric's new 100kW AC electric motor and larger 38.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack did result in an extended all-electric driving range but didn't really do much to improve acceleration off of the line. With the previous powertrain, the Ioniq Electric accelerated from 0-60 mph in a sedate 8.5 seconds, which was slower than both the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai's own Kona EV. With the new powertrain, the Ioniq Electric reaches the 60 mph mark in an insignificantly quicker eight to 8.4 seconds in real-world testing, which is a little closer to the Leaf's eight-second time but still eons away from the Kona's sub-seven-second time, not to mention the Tesla's 5.3-second time from the slowest model. Overall, the Ioniq Electric doesn't feel as electrifying as quicker EVs like the Chevrolet Bolt, particularly from a standstill where the driver has to really dig into the throttle to elicit the instantaneous off-the-line verve that EVs are known for.
The Hyundai's 100kW magnetic synchronous motor and 319.4-volt electrical system produce peak outputs of 134 horsepower and 218 lb-ft of torque. The motor is paired with a 38.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and routes outputs to the Ioniq's front-wheel drivetrain via a single-speed reduction gear system. As with any electric vehicle, off-the-line acceleration is sharp, however, in the Ioniq Electric, acceleration just doesn't quite feel as swift as in other EVs and the numbers back this up. While the Ioniq Electric's performance is fine for when cruising around town, power delivery does quickly begin to taper off once at higher speeds, and commencing highway merges and overtakes will be somewhat of a gradual affair.
While not having to change gears is something that takes a little time getting used to for those with limited EV experience, the Ioniq Electric features nifty steering-wheel-mounted paddles that are used for adjusting the potency of the regenerative braking system and its effect in off-throttle phases.
Hyundai succeeded in having the Ioniq Electric deliver as much of a traditional car-like driving experience as possible: its drive and handling dynamics are well-rounded and while it's not a particularly fun car to drive, it is a rather enjoyable one from a comfort perspective.
A comfortable ride quality is certainly prioritized for the Ioniq, its suspension is tuned on the softer side as its curb weight is relatively light for an EV, this keeps it compliant and never feels overly sprung. Unfortunately, this also has the Ioniq feel very floaty especially over undulating surfaces where it begins to porpoise, and those who get car sick easily will want to avoid long trips in the Ioniq. Apart from the buoyancy, the Ioniq smooths out most road imperfections and minor undulations, it's about as smooth as the next EV in terms of comfort.
Because of the battery's low mounting point in the Ioniq, its center of gravity is effectively low which bodes well for the Ioniq's handling dynamics and overall feel of stability. While the Ioniq does feel somewhat lively, there's only so much one can confidently get out of it in terms of spirited cruising because of its overly buoyant and occasionally unengaging suspension setup, on top of low grip efficiency-minded wheels.
While the steering wheel itself feels good to the touch, it communicates very little and feels far too light and desynchronized in its weighting in correlation to cornering forces. An area where the Ioniq Electric really excels is in its regenerative braking, which has been programmed with three levels of adjustment with good modulation and without the grabbiness often associated with these types of systems.
With the Ioniq Electric's larger 38.3 kWh lithium-ion battery fully charged, it's now capable of an estimated range of around 170 miles, that's a 46-mile improvement over last year's model which featured a less powerful motor and smaller 28 kWh battery. Unfortunately, that figure is still not as impressive as what many other EVs out there offer. The Nissan Leaf, for example, with its 62 kWh battery offers a range of around 226 miles. The Tesla Model 3 offers ranges from 250 to 310 miles. The Ioniq Electric's estimated fuel economy figures are far more impressive, however, at 145/121/133 MPGe city/highway/combined. The Leaf's best figures sit at 123/99/111 MPGe and the Model 3's at 140/124/133 MPGe. Hyundai state that it'll take around 35.5 hours to fully charge the Ioniq Electric on a level 1 power outlet, six hours on a level 2 power outlet, and 80% charge can be accrued in just under an hour on a DC fast-charging system.
In staying true to the EV's eco-friendly ethos, Hyundai made a point to utilize mostly sustainable materials in the construction of the Ioniq Electric's cabin. While the cabin has been noticeably refreshed for the 2020 year model, it still looks a little bland and feels rather cheap, or at least not up to the same standard as traditional cars of a similar price. It is otherwise minimalist in nature and ergonomically presented, there's plenty of adjustability offered for the driver for comfort and visibility is good all round. The seats throughout the cabin are comfortable, though room overall in the rear seats is rather cramped. The 10.25-inch touchscreen and eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system in the Limited model are the stars of the show.
Four adults will fit comfortably into the Ioniq Electric although seating for five is provided. The center rear seat is best left to children, however, as shoulder room gets quite limited especially with adults in the outboard seats. Head and legroom are plentiful up front, even with the Limited's sunroof. Unfortunately, the Ioniq Electric's rearward sloping roofline does cut into the rear cabin headroom and the under seat-mounted battery pack lifts the seating position and diminishes legroom as well. The driver is nicely positioned behind the relevant controls and the steering wheel and driver's seat feature ample adjustability, making finding an optimal driving position easy. While outward visibility is great all-round, the A and C pillars are quite large and do create some prominent blind zones.
The cabin of the Ioniq Electric is very straight-forward and perhaps a little boring, the leather-wrapped steering wheel is probably the most appreciable thing there, with how it looks and how comfortably it fits in hand. The rest of the cabin is made up of black and gray hard-touch plastics with some silver accenting trim. While the seats in the SE model are upholstered in premium cloth upholstery available in either black or gray, the seats in the Limited are upholstered in a leatherette upholstery available in the same color schemes.
Electric cars have an advantage over traditional internal combustion cars as the electric motors don't impinge on interior space and the battery they come equipped with is typically packed low down. The Ioniq Electric's 23 cubic foot trunk is on the larger side and provides enough room for a full month's groceries in one go. The Nissan Leaf offers 0.6 cubic feet more room behind the rear seats but the Tesla Model 3 offers a total of only 15 cubes with its trunk and frunk room combined.
The cabin of the Ioniq Electric houses the typical assortment of storage solutions, including large door pockets on all four doors with bottle holder slots, a passenger-side glovebox, and a center stack comprising a small-items tray, two cupholders, and a sizeable armrest cubby. Rear occupants are afforded two seatback map pockets and two cupholders in the backrest of the center seat.
Standard specification levels are higher than ever before for the Ioniq Electric with the nameplate receiving a good selection of new features coming into the 2020 model year. The base-spec SE now comes standard with remote keyless entry with push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, six-way manually-adjustable front seats, and automatic temperature control. Hyundai even made its SmartSense driver-assistance suite standard bolstering the already standard rearview camera and Smart cruise control system with stop and go functionality. There's a bit more in the Limited including a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, driver-side memory settings, power tilt/sliding sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and ambient LED in-cabin lighting. The driver assist consignment is further bolstered with highway drive assist and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
As part of the 2020 updates, infotainment in Ioniq Electric is exceptionally well catered for. In the SE, an eight-inch touchscreen display is standard and comes tethered to a stock AM/FM stereo and six-speaker sound system. SiriusXM and HD Radio are standard too, along with functionality in Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Bluetooth audio streaming. Things get taken up a notch in the Limited though, with a 10.25-inch touchscreen taking over the dash and an eight-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system covering sound. The Limited also features a wireless charging pad. Both the SE and Limited feature two USB charging ports for direct connectivity.
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric fell subject to a single major recall in 2017, for an issue pertaining to the motor coolant which would potentially make contact with the Electronic Power Control Unit (EPCU), subsequently resulting in a vehicle stall. The Ioniq Electric has managed to steer clear of any other recalls since. Unfortunately, J.D. Power is yet to provide a Quality and Reliability rating. To inspire driver confidence, however, Hyundai covers the Ioniq Electric with a ten-year/100,000-mile powertrain and Hybrid/Electric Battery warranty, and with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty.
Because the Hyundai Ioniq Electric is a low sales volume vehicle, neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has evaluated it for its crashworthiness. The IIHS has, however, evaluated the 2020 Ioniq Hybrid which scored top ratings of Good for six specified crash tests - results that should be largely applicable.
Hyundai has really kitted the Ioniq Electric out for comprehensive driver assistance and top-notch safety. Hyundai's SmartSense driver assistance suite, which comprises automatic high-beams, forward collision avoidance, driver attention warning, and lane keeping assist is standard. These complement the Ioniq's already standard high-beam assist, rearview camera and Smart cruise control system with stop and go functionality. The Limited comes standard with a few more assists including highway drive assist and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Of course, there are all the essentials too, such as ABS, EBD, and stability control. A consignment of seven airbags is standard in both Ioniq Electric models too, including a driver's knee airbag.
While the Ioniq may not quite match up to its competition in all-electric range, which is a very material performance consideration within the class, it is still a highly economical EV nonetheless. Owners of the Ioniq won't be planning any long-distance road trips with only 170 miles offered on a single charge. While that is a 46-mile improvement over last year, it's not the Ioniq's strongest point. It's in fuel-efficiency where the Ioniq truly achieves, with its 145/121/133 MPGe EPA estimates, there're very few rivals that'll save their owners as much money as the Ioniq will. Unfortunately, one thing the Ioniq won't be sparing its owners, is time, with a 35.5-hour charge time expected from level 1 charging outlets or six hours on a level 2 unit.
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is a stylish EV that offers a decent level of practicality too with 23 cubic feet in the trunk. When it comes to EV's, however, it's all about the range, and while the Ioniq does offer plenty of value for the money, so do its far-riding competitors.
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is priced within the same bracket as other EVs in its class. The SE is offered at a starting MSRP of $33,045 and the Limited at an MSRP of $38,615. Those prices are excluding Hyundai's destination and handling charge of $955 as well as any tax, registration, and licensing fees. There aren't many additional cost options available at all with the $300 White Pearl paint option being the only one worth mentioning, the various optional accessories otherwise accumulate to about $575 in value. Buyers are liable to a federal tax rebate of up to $7,500 with purchase of an Ioniq as well as various incentives from certain states.
There are only two models that make up the 2020 Electric Ioniq lineup, the SE and the Limited. Both are powered by a 100kW electric motor and a 38.3 kWh lithium-ion battery. The motors outputs are routed via a single-speed reduction gear system to the front wheels.
Riding on 16-inch eco-spoke alloy wheels, the SE arrives with all-LED exterior lighting and dual power-folding and heated side-view mirrors as standard. There's remote keyless entry with push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, six-way manually-adjustable front seats, and automatic temperature control. An eight-inch touchscreen with a six-speaker sound system covers infotainment and both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included. Hyundai's SmartSense driver-assistance suite is standard too, along with a rearview camera and Smart cruise control system with stop and go functionality.
With the top-spec Limited, there's a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, driver-side memory settings, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, ambient LED in-cabin lighting, and leatherette upholstery. The infotainment system is upgraded to a 10.25-inch touchscreen with an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. The driver assists are further bolstered with highway drive assist and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
There are no optional packages provided for either of the Ioniq Electric models. Both can be equipped with a range of accessories, however, including a $50 cargo net, a $150 cargo cover, and $55 wheel locks among others. Ceramic White paint is the only other optional extra at a cost of $300.
Though the price difference may be quite significant between the SE and Limited, we feel the Limited is well worth the extra money, considering that the Ioniq Electric is a family-oriented vehicle. Over and above what the SE features as standard, the top-of-the-line Limited gets a bunch more creature comforts including an upgraded infotainment system, leatherette seating upholstery, and even a power tilt/sliding sunroof. The Limited also comes with a few more advanced driver-assist technologies such as blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, altogether, these few extra features make the Limited the better option as an everyday family commuter.
With five trim levels and a starting MSRP of $31,600, the Nissan Leaf offers buyers a wider range of options and opportunity for customization. Base models feature a bigger battery but offer only a 149-mile all-electric range on a single charge, an even larger 60kWh battery is available further up in the trim line which gives it a 226-mile range, around 50 miles more than what the Ioniq offers. Though a relatively pricey upgrade, pricing for the LEaf still remains lower than that of the Ioniq. The Leaf's controls and suspension setup feel better refined too; while the Ioniq's steering is detached and its ride overly floaty, the Leaf's steering feels nicely calibrated and its suspension always keeps it composed. Overall, the Leaf is the better EV of the two especially with the 60kWh battery in play, shoppers will have to scoop out a little extra for it when similarly specced, but it's well worth the investment, it being an EV.
While the Tesla Model 3 may be quite a bit more expensive than the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, its unprecedented 322-mile all-electric range should justify its cost alone, before you even consider its vastly better performance. While that range does come from the higher-tier Extended Range model, even the Regular Range model's 250-mile range beats the Ioniq's. In terms of design and quality, the Model 3 definitely boasts the more attractive aesthetic and its super modern cabin is exceptionally well put together. The Ioniq Electric may hold bearing for some considering that unlike the Model 3, it comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, and boasts a cavernous trunk. However, there's no doubt that the Tesla is the superior EV here, and one that's certainly worth every penny.
Check out some informative Hyundai Ioniq EV video reviews below.