A brand new wave of Hyundai electric vehicles, including the stunning Ioniq 5, represents a new era for the brand, but the Hyundai Ioniq Electric arrived before to lay the foundation. In some ways, it's easy to tell that it's an older EV due to its limited range and lackluster driving dynamics. Cosmetically updated recently, the Ioniq retains a range of just 170 miles on a full charge. The front wheels of the Ioniq Electric are powered by an AC electric motor and 38.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, with specs of 134 horsepower and 218 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately, even with its recent 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 has made only minor changes to the Ioniq Electric lineup for 2021. In terms of the color palette, Summit Gray falls away and is replaced by Amazon Gray. Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is now standard on models with the eight-inch display screen. Other than this, the Ioniq remains the same.
See trim levels and configurations:
The Ioniq EV's gray closed front grille was the most noticeable alteration on last year's refreshed model and continues into 2021. It features a scale-like pattern and is bordered with chrome accenting that shoots out to underscore the LED headlights (standard on the top trim) that feature LED daytime running lights and automatic headlight control. These are supported by the recently updated front fascia. Both Ioniq Electric models ride atop 16-inch eco-spoke alloy wheels and feature black side sill moldings and LED taillamps but the Limited gets extra chrome detailing to set it apart.
In comparison with the Ioniq Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid's dimensions, 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 about 1.2 inches taller than the Ioniq Hybrid. The ground clearance works out to 5.9 inches. Both trims have the same curb weight of between 3,371 and 3,488 pounds.
The same five exterior paint colors are available to both trims of the 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric. On the SE, the five colors that are available are Electric Shadow, Black Noir Pearl, Stellar Silver, Ceramic White, and Intense Blue. Only Ceramic White adds to the bill at a cost of $350. This color doesn't cost extra on the Limited, though. Although Hyundai indicated that Amazon Gray is a new color this year, it wasn't available as part of the website's collection of colors at the time of writing so it is unclear whether this shade will cost extra or not. That said, we do feel that Intense Blue is the best color in the range.
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric's 134-horsepower AC electric motor and 38.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is tuned more for efficiency than dramatic performance. With its latest powertrain, the Ioniq Electric can get from 0-60 in around 8.3 seconds in real-world testing, which is close to the Leaf's eight-second time but still falls far short vs the Kona EV with its sub-seven-second time, not to mention the Tesla's 5.3-second time from the slowest Model 3. 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. Both Ioniq EV trims send their power to the front wheels exclusively.
The Hyundai's interior-permanent magnet 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. Merging onto the highway and overtaking at higher speeds are maneuvers that will require some degree of patience.
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 hatch 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, something which keeps it compliant and reduces the feeling of being 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 hatchback, 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 38.3 kWh lithium-ion battery fully charged, it's capable of an estimated range of around 170 miles; that's a 46-mile improvement over the 2019 model which featured a less powerful motor and smaller 28 kWh battery. Unfortunately, those mileage figures are 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 263 to 353 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 150/133/142 MPGe. Hyundai states 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 charger, 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 was noticeably refreshed last year, 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 2021 Hyundai Ioniq EV 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 straightforward 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 leather upholstery available in the same color schemes.
Electric cars have an advantage over traditional internal combustion-engine cars as the electric motors don't impinge on cabin and cargo 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 2021 Ioniq Electric. The base-spec SE comes standard with remote keyless entry with push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, six-way adjustable front seats with manual operation, 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-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar support, driver-side memory settings, a power tilt/sliding sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and ambient in-cabin lighting. On the Limited, you also get Highway Driving Assist, blind-spot collision warning, and rear cross-traffic collision warning.
The infotainment system in the 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. Interestingly, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto finds its way into the base model but the upper trim has wired functionality only. 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 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric had not been recalled for any issues at the time of writing, although last year's model was recalled for an issue whereby the lithium-ion battery could short circuit, leading to a potential fire risk. 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.
No Hyundai Ioniq EV safety review has yet been conducted by the NHTSA or the IIHS. The IIHS has, however, subjected the 2020 Hyundai Ioniq HEV to review, for which it scored top ratings of Good for six specified crash tests - results that should be largely applicable to the Ioniq EV as well.
Hyundai has really kitted the new Ioniq EV 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 2021 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 previous iterations of the Ioniq, it's not the vehicle's strongest point. It's in efficiency where the Ioniq truly achieves, with its 145/121/133 MPGe EPA estimates, there are 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 all-electric hatchback is a stylish EV that offers a decent level of practicality too with 23 cubic feet in the trunk. When it comes to EVs, 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 2021 Hyundai Ioniq electric car is priced within the same bracket as other EVs for sale in its class. The SE is offered at a starting MSRP of $33,245 in the USA and the Limited at an MSRP of $38,815. Those prices are excluding Hyundai's destination and handling charge of $1,005 as well as any tax, registration, and licensing fees. There aren't many additional cost options available at all with the $350 Ceramic White paint option being the only one worth mentioning.
The Ioniq EV price is made more attractive considering that a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 could apply to this model.
There are only two models that make up the 2021 Electric Ioniq lineup in the US: the SE and the Limited. Both are powered by a 134-hp electric motor and a 38.3 kWh lithium-ion battery. The motor's 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 LED daytime running lights and heated side 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 six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, driver-side memory settings, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, ambient in-cabin lighting, and leather 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, so buyers looking for some customization may be disappointed. In fact, beyond your choice of exterior and interior color, the Ioniq EV is a case of what you see is exactly what you get.
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, leather 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. We feel that these few extra features make the Limited the better option as an everyday family commuter.
With five trim levels and a starting MSRP of $31,670, the Ioniq isn't as customizable vs the Nissan Leaf. Base models feature a bigger battery than the Ioniq but offer only a 149-mile all-electric range on a single charge. However, an even larger 60 kWh battery is available further up in the trim line which gives it a 226-mile range, over 50 miles more than what the Ioniq offers. Though a relatively pricey upgrade, base pricing for the Leaf still remains lower than that of the Ioniq. The Leaf's controls and suspension setup feel more refined as well/ 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 60 kWh 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 353-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 LongRange model, even the Standard Range Plus model's 263-mile range beats the Ioniq. 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; look more closely, though, and you'll find that Tesla still has a few build quality quirks to iron out. 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.
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