2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Limited Review

You don't have to get weird to go hybrid

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: Entertaining to drive in sport mode, non-anemic styling, robust feature set, spacious and ergonomic interior, superb efficiency
Negatives: Copycat styling off Honda's former Insight hybrid, ugly wheels, number steering, electric/gas combination has some coordination issues,
Bottom Line: Most hybrids aren't exactly thrilling, and that's not what you really sign up for anyway, but they also don't have to be boring and polarizing. The Ioniq presents a great option for those who've been put off by the Toyota Prius and want a more conventional looking car that still nails those mpg numbers. The Ioniq is comfortable, drives more than respectably and has an excellent cabin in terms of room and ergonomics. It's worth a serious look for those who want efficiency but don't want to stick out like a sore thumb.
 View Our 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Overview
Hyundai is clearly going after Toyota with their Ioniq Hybrid and sister car, the Kia Niro. Not only are they doing up their own versions of the all-efficient hybrid vehicle, they're doing in ways that are thumbing their noses at the reigning king, the Prius. In our book, this is a very good thing since we're not big fans of Toyota's big eco-seller. What Hyundai has brought isn't wholly original, but the Ioniqu brings to market a vehicle that could very well appeal to those who have steered clear of the much-loved/much-hated Prius. And if the departure from the Prius isn't enough, Hyundai is also offering the industry’s first lifetime battery warranty, allaying the fears of the hybrid-reluctant.

We drove the new South Korean Hybrid for a week to see how good it really could be. Read on for our detailed review.

Driving Experience



The Ioniq proves you don't have to accept totally tepid driving dynamics in a conventional hybrid. The combination of the Ioniq's 1.6-liter and electric motor aren't revolutionary, but together with Sport Mode, good brakes, great tires and a decent chassis makes the Ioniq pretty good to drive for something that's eco-conscious first and foremost. Hypermilers, however, won't get to geek out on robust mileage data that's found on the Prius. At least the Ioniq displays “economical,” “normal,” or “aggressive" driving habits so you can see where you land in the spectrum.

Ride Quality: The Ioniq rides a bit on the firm side, but that doesn't mean it's harsh at all. We think it strikes a great balance, absorbing bumps while not making you feel like you're driving a pillow.

Acceleration: In conventional Eco mode, the Ioniq is as you expect for a hybrid... sluggish. But pop it into Sport Mode by knocking the shifter left, and it comes alive with better throttle response and pickup. Just expect your mpgs to start dropping into the low 30s when you do it a lot, like we did. The dual clutch transmission works very well, except for the lag when shifting between reverse and drive.

Braking: Since there's no regenerative braking feature in the Ioniq, the brakes were progressive and did a good job of bringing the hybrid to a stop.

Steering: Though the steering is light and pretty numb, it never felt artificial or off-center.

Handling: Minimal body roll enabled the Ioniq to handle curves pretty well. We didn't have any trouble getting it through esses fairly quickly, and the tires held on.




No surprises here. Hyundai manages to infuse their cars with some of the easiest in-car tech around. Everything's intuitive, easy to reach and visually attractive.

Infotainment System: The 7-inch touchscreen has good visibility, and all the icons and fonts are easy to read. It's also responsive, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, making our lives easier.

Controls: A brilliant row of media buttons just below the center screen make it easy to navigate choices, and the audio knobs and climate controls take no time to figure out.

Bluetooth Pairing: Quick and seamless. We had no problems pairing our smartphones and keeping them paired.

Voice Call Quality: Clear as a bell and issue-free transmission. All of our phone calls connected and stayed connected.




If you think the shape of the Ioniq looks really similar to the now defunct Honda Insight, you're got good eyes. Nothing about the Ioniq's styling is revolutionary, but at least it really does look like pretty normal hatchback with a bit of a tall back end. That by no means is derogatory since the car thankfully looks nothing like the bizarre and oversyled Toyota Prius. Hyundai still had to keep the car wind-cheating, so the shape was hard to escape. We like the look overall even if it won't set hearts aflutter.

Front: The big 10-bar grille looks handsome, and the boomerang LED driving lights are pretty sweet. It's neither overly simple or overly complex, and we like the minimal use of chrome.

Rear: Hyundai kept things simple here, albeit a bit thick with the split rear window/spoiler combination.

Profile: The best view of the Ioniq in our opinion. It's well-proportioned, and the nice chrome swoosh at the window line gives it sportiness. We're just not fans of the aerodynamic wheels.

Cabin: We're big fans of Hyundai interiors because they're clean and well-styled. The interior is laid out well, and the steering wheel, dash and seats all have an upscale look. There's a bit too much grey for our tastes, but it's by no means a deal-breaker.




Though the Ioniq is based on the Elantra, there's more room here. The cabin is big and airy, and five passengers can occupy the Ioniq without a problem. Hyundai did a solid job of making a fuel-conscious car usable for the everyday.

Front Seats: The leather seats provide good cushioning and bolstering, while the heating fired up fast.

Rear Seats: Good legroom and decent headroom. Even the middle passenger won't suffer much.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The noise is only apparent when the 1.6-liter mill is taxed under hard throttle or at freeway speeds when the tire noise rises.

Visibility: Only the rearward visibility is compromised due to the split rear window.

Climate: The automatic climate control system is easy to use and works quite well. We would've like a bit more oomph from the AC, though.




Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has tested the Ioniq for crash safety, but the Hyundai Elantra on which the Ioniq is based is a Top Safety Pick+ for 2017 and earns four stars from the NHTSA, so the Ioniq should get decent marks. It also has a solid set of safety features.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: The Limited tester we drove came with blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert & lane change assist, and rearview camera. All of these features worked very well during our time behind the wheel.

Optional Tech: Our car had the Ultimate Package, which bundled automatic emergency braking, smart cruise control, lane departure warning, headlights with Dynamic Bending Light Function, and rear parking sensors. We especially loved the headlights, which were bright and truly adaptive.




The Ionic is practical from a storage standpoint, especially in light of its cargo hold. The cabin also had plenty of space for small gear items, all well-placed.

Storage Space: The two cupholders are deep and accessible behind the shift knob, and the armrest can hold small items out of view. We especially liked the center tray with its charging dock.

Cargo Room: The rear cargo hold is cavernous and deep. It's all very easy to access, too. Fold the seats down, and it's time for a road trip. There's ample room for luggage, groceries, etc.

Fuel Economy



Color us guilty, but we like to drive our cars on the sporting side, even when they're hybrids. That being said, the Ioniq is one thrifty car, besting the Prius by a couple of mpgs in combined driving. If you helm it in Eco mode all the time, and you're in no hurry, hitting 50 mpg should be no problem. But drive aggressively in Sport mode, and you'll watch the numbers drop like we did.

Observed: 37.3 mpg

Distance Driven: 249 miles

Driving Factors: We drove our car over 70% in the "Aggressive" driving style, which doesn't bode well for mileage. At our worst, we got 34.3 and at our best 48.9 over the course of a week in city and highway driving.




The Ioniq's upgraded Infinity Premium Audio with 8-speakers is a very good system, and we're glad we had it. Though it's clear and crisp, it's not as rich with bass as we would've liked. The mere fact that you could upgrade the sound system on an affordable hybrid is a bonus for shoppers.

Final Thoughts

When we drive hybrids, our expectations are high for efficiency but generally low for the driving experience. The Ioniq is a brilliant execution for a dedicated hybrid that's not a spinoff of a gas model. Hyundai thought the Ioniq very well, indeed. It's not only really efficient, it's also truly practical for the everyday commuter with space galore, a great cabin and well-styled sheet metal. Even in top trim, it's well under the average new car purchase price across the industry, and that's a good thing. For those who have been put off by the strange Toyota Prius, this is one hybrid to seriously consider and may make converts out of the doubtful.

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