2019 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Performance

$22,400 - $29,350
Price Range (MSRP)

Economy is the Ioniq’s biggest selling point, and one where the base Blue model scores top marks with a 58 mpg combined estimate. But in all other aspects it’s found wanting compared to chief rival, the Prius. The steering wheel might be lovely to hold, but there’s no feedback and its gluey off center which means constant overcorrection is needed to track straight on the freeway. Meanwhile the eco-biased tires squeal and protest at moderate speeds through corners, and the suspension is entirely overactive, bouncing and porpoising over uneven surfaces like a boat on choppy waters. The brakes are awkward to modulate as the brake regeneration doesn’t blend into friction braking fluently. With 139 horsepower from the 1.6-liter engine and electric motor combined, we expected decent performance, but acceleration is non-existent unless you plant the throttle in defiance of the EPA’s estimated economy figures.

2019 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Engine and Transmission

The Ioniq Hybrid features a single, simple engine and gearbox combination throughout the three trims available. A 1.6-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline combustion engine produces 104 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque, and is paired to an electric motor with outputs of 43 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. The combined figure is slightly less than the sum of its parts, with the final power output resting at a healthy 139 hp. The throttle tuning is terrible though with an all-or-nothing approach to performance. Responses from the throttle are poor unless you punch the gas hard, which comes at the expense of the economy figures that arguably shine brightest on the Ioniq’s spec sheet. Even then, performance is hardly what one might deem rapid, and overtaking requires a little premonition as to what might be over the horizon.

A single transmission is equipped to the hybrid drivetrain, with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic being used. The dual-clutch is laggy and responds poorly, searching for economy in spite of the driving situation at hand, often shifting up a gear when really it should go down. It’s also jerky at low speeds.

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
1.6-liter Hybrid Engine
Toyota Prius
1.8-liter Hybrid Engine
Honda Insight
1.5-liter Hybrid Engine
Horsepower 139 @ 5700 121 @ 5200 151 @ 6000
Torque 109 @ 4000 105 @ 3600 99 @ 5000
Transmission 6-Speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Auto Continuously Variable Automatic Electric Continuously Variable

Drivetrain

In a budget focused hybrid like the Ioniq, there’s just one pair of driven wheels. The Ioniq’s architecture is front-wheel drive, which makes sense from a manufacturing cost perspective as well as the fact that it frees up space for the batteries without too severely compromising cargo volume. The front-wheel drive setup doesn’t fare too badly, let down primarily by the engine/gearbox combination and the low-grip tires rather than by a flaw in the system itself.

MPG

The Ioniq’s trump card is fuel economy, and with a high target set by the Prius, Hyundai pulled out all the stops and pared back everything possible on the base Ioniq Blue to bag EPA economy estimates of 57/59/58 mpg for the city/highway/combined driving cycles. The Prius Eco only manages 58/53/56 on the same cycles. The SEL and Limited trims offer more creature comforts and sacrifice economy a little in that pursuit, but they still offer up decent estimates of 55/54/55 mpg, besting the higher trims of the Prius which achieved estimates of 54/50/52. It’s a point to Hyundai here, but it’s worth noting that glacial levels of acceleration make these figures a reality.

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
1.6-liter Hybrid Engine
Toyota Prius
1.8-liter Hybrid Engine
Honda Insight
1.5-liter Hybrid Engine
Combined 58 mpg 52 mpg 52 mpg
City 57 mpg 54 mpg 55 mpg
Highway 59 mpg 50 mpg 49 mpg
Fuel Tank Capacity 11 gallons 11 gallons 10 gallons