Driven: 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 Hits Right In The Retro Feels

Test Drive / 4 Comments

It may have 1980s hatchback looks, but the Ioniq 5 is the future.

In a segment already as hotly contested as the gasoline and hybrid-powered compact crossover segment, Hyundai came out swinging in 2022 with the all-electric Ioniq 5. It's a standout-stylish electric vehicle that's easy to drive, fast to charge, and seats its driver and passengers in a roomy, modern cabin.

The Ioniq 5 comes in four distinct flavors, starting with a single-motor entry-level SE Standard Range trim with 168 horsepower and a range of 220 miles. Higher up in the range, you can get 225 hp or 320 hp, the former offering 303 miles of range and the latter sacrificing some of that at 266 miles for a dual-motor AWD setup. Of course, there's also the potent Ioniq 5 N that's due in 2024 with its ridiculous 601 horses and track-focused handling; we look forward to getting our hands on that even more.

We spent some time in the 320-hp AWD model, and it's clearer than ever why this EV raked in all the awards it did.

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Styling: Gently Retro, Heavily Modern

With the Ioniq 5, Hyundai has delivered something that stands out in traffic and isn't constrained by aerodynamics in such a way that it becomes a blob. Instead, it has 1980s hatchback vibes particularly reminiscent of the legendary Lancia Delta Integrale, but with pixelated lights and the now-characteristic Hyundai prism-like creases along the side. It's a testament to the designer that that's what comes to mind rather than a crossover, as the Ioniq 5 is just that - a crossover.

Our tester, the top Limited trim in dual-motor setup, rode on 20-inch wheels (RWD models get 19-inch alloys). This trim gets projector-type LEDs, a vision roof, a hands-free liftgate, and silver bumpers and body cladding as standard. It's worth noting the exterior paint palette is limited to demure shades, but the now-characteristic Shooting Star matte certainly stands out.

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Interior: Reduced Complexity

The word minimalism is overused and often incorrectly, and it would be wrong if used here. Instead, the Hyundai Ioniq 5's cabin is best described as uncluttered and beautifully simplified. There are dual 12.3-inch displays - one a digital instrument cluster and one an HD touchscreen with navigation for infotainment - as standard across the range, but the Limited gets a Bose Premium sound system and an augmented-reality head-up display.

The seats are wrapped in H-Tex and are heated and ventilated on the top trim. Front legroom is excellent without compromising the rear, where three six-foot adults can experience a cramp-free ride. Adding to the interior's practicality are wide-opening doors and excellent visibility for the driver.

Our only complaint is how high the floor is, and it's not uncommon for electric vehicles. To keep the exterior dimensions as tight as they are, the rear seats are mounted low, which isn't ideal for comfort and detracts from the benefits a crossover usually delivers.

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Powertrain: Electric Fun

While the AWD models take a hit on available range, they come with a pokey 320 horsepower and 446 lb-ft of torque to play with. That torque is instantly on tap, and those figures make the Ioniq 5 a rapid crossover. While there is no engine noise to accompany the rush of power, it's still addictive - at least until you realize how quickly putting your foot to the floor drains the battery.

Hitting 60 mph quickly isn't unusual for an electric vehicle now, but the Ioniq 5 has another trick up its sleeve. Its 77.4 kWh lithium-ion battery has 350-kW DC fast-charging capability, which is the kind of fast charging you would usually need to spend a lot of money with Porsche or Lucid to take advantage of. You can top up the battery from 10% - 80% in 18 minutes.

Of course, chargers capable of delivering that kind of charge out there in the wild are few and far between, but you will be able to fine a few.

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On The Road: Neatly Balanced

The Ioniq 5 blends power, smooth yet tight suspension, wide tires, and a low center of gravity, and the result is a superbly fun car to drive. You couldn't describe it as a sports car, but if you need to get somewhere in a hurry or you like to take the long way home once in a while, it has sporting credentials for something tall. It's also a joy to hustle through the city with its light and quick steering; then, in heavy traffic, the cabin is a comfortable and airy place to be. The only gripe we can come up with is that the shifter isn't the most intuitive we've come across, but it doesn't take much to get used to.

The handling and performance capabilities of the Ioniq 5 hide its AWD weight and defy its crossover proportions, which demonstrates the attention to detail Hyundai has put into its product. There's little to fault, but if you want performance, then a gas-powered German crossover would be the better bet. However, as a daily, practical, and fun drive, the Ioniq 5 AWD hits that spot.

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Should You Buy An Ioniq 5 AWD?

The Ioniq 5 starts at $41,450 for the base SE Standard Range, but if you want the dual-motor AWD setup, you'll be paying at least $49k in SE trim. SEL trims are a little better equipped, and the Limited has an MSRP of $52,600 in RWD format and $56,500 for AWD, as with our tester, which is pretty good value for the money. Dropping around $57k on a top-of-the-range stylish and fun-to-drive car isn't crazy money, particularly when you consider a gas-powered BMW X5 starts at around $65,000.

The Ioniq 5 is feature-laden, although not including wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto is an odd decision, and we were surprised there's not more space in the frunk. The frunk has room for less than one cubic foot, but it isn't a dealbreaker since the trunk can still hold between 27.2 and 59.3 cubes. The lack of wireless compatibility with the two most popular phones on the planet may be for some.

If you're thinking about an all-electric compact crossover and this small gripe is something you can live with, you should definitely check out the Mustang Mach-E and Kia EV6 as well. Then, have a look at what the Ioniq 5 has to offer - and let us know which color you chose for yours.

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