The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric is a tremendous value for an electric car, both in terms of cost of entry and efficiency. It also offers all the user-friendly tech we expect from Hyundai. But it falls short of class leaders in terms of comfort and driving distance.
Hyundai's Ioniq Electric currently wears the crown for being the most efficient 2018 electric car. According to the EPA, it uses just 25 kWh of electricity per 100 miles driven. Some rival EVs are close behind, but the Ioniq's advantage is still something to brag to your neighbors about.
You can also brag about its affordable pricing and appealing list of features. A full suite of advanced driver safety aids is available, and the car is packed with easy-to-use technology features. It's smooth and quiet on the road, and it comes with the peace of mind of Hyundai's 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
There are some downsides. The Chevrolet Bolt has almost double the Ioniq Electric's 124-mile estimated driving range on a full battery charge, for instance. No thorns without roses and all that. Plus, the Ioniq's rear bench is a bit hard, and there's not much rear passenger room. Visibility to the sides and the rear is impeded by thick pillars and a split rear window.
Overall, we like the Ioniq, but it'll also be worth your time to compare it to other top EVs such as the BMW i3, the Chevy Bolt, the Nissan Leaf, the Tesla Model 3 and the Volkswagen e-Golf.
Notably, we picked the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric as one of Edmunds' Best Electric Cars for this year.
The Electric's trim levels have been simplified to the Electric (base) and the Limited, driver aids are now standard on the Limited trim, and lane keeping assist has been added.
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric, especially with the tax credit taken into account, offers a low cost of entry into electric-car ownership. It also comes standard with a solid list of standard features. However, we recommend spending a bit more to get the Limited trim. Many of the upgrades are nice to have, but most importantly it adds blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Considering the Ioniq's compromised visibility, both are important safety features to have.
The Ioniq Electric is available in just two trims: base, which comes pretty well equipped, and the more generously optioned Limited. Both trims are propelled by the same 88-kW electric motor (118 horsepower, 215 pound-feet) with a 28-kWh lithium-ion battery pack providing the energy for 124 miles of range.
If you can live without the latest high-tech driving aids, then the base trim should suit you well. Standard features include 16-inch wheels, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, a rearview camera, heated side mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, a leather-wrapped tilting-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated height-adjustable adjustable front seats and a 60/40-split folding rear seatback. You also get a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system, and an audio system with satellite radio and HD radio, and USB and auxiliary input jacks. An SAE combo DC fast charger is also included and can operate at up to 100 kilowatts.
The Limited trim comes with everything above but swaps in xenon headlights and adds power-folding side mirrors, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver seat, driver-seat memory settings, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a sunroof, interior ambient lighting, and rear air vents. Infotainment upgrades include wireless device charging, a larger 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, and an eight-speaker Infinity audio system.
The Limited also comes standard with active safety features and driver aids, including automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop-start, and lane departure warning with lane keeping assist.
The Ioniq is not one of the torque monsters we read about in the EV news. But it doesn't weigh as much as some others, so it has enough power to be competitive in the segment. Well-rounded dynamics make the driving experience enjoyable, but a bit more steering feel would be welcome.
The Ioniq's rather small electric motor makes good torque when it's time to get going, and it feels peppy around town. But with only 118 horsepower, it's not destined to be fast. That said, there's enough to get this 3,200-pound EV up to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds, a decent showing in this segment.
These brakes perform well in everyday situations. Not too much initial grab. Not too soft. There are three levels of brake regeneration that can be adjusted on-the-fly via paddles mounted on the back of the steering wheel. Panic stops from 60 mph took 124 feet, a tick below the class average.
The Ioniq's wheel feels light in your hands, and it doesn't transmit much cornering feedback to the driver. But that doesn't harm the car's steering precision in city maneuvers or its inherent stability when cruising straight at speed on the highway.
A low center of gravity, thanks to the battery's low position, and a surprisingly low curb weight help give the Ioniq a surprising sense of composure and liveliness. It might do better if the suspension was a little less buoyant, and there's only so much grip from its efficiency-minded tires.
Electric vehicles never shift, so it's no wonder that there's no drivetrain shock or momentary pause as you speed up or slow down. Lift-throttle braking makes the drive even smoother, and the brake-regen paddles on the steering wheel add a little fun to the mix.
We find the driver's seat to be comfortable and on par, if not a tick above, those of competitors. The backseats are average at best. A simple yet clever climate control system is the main standout with noise management also commendable. Ride comfort over choppier roads is the biggest negative.
The shape of the driver's seat is supportive and adjustable enough that most will find a comfortable position. A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel helps. We went a good three hours before lower limbs grew wary. Its rear bench seatback is upright and quite firmly padded, and lateral support is lacking.
The ride across most surfaces is smooth, even soft, and perfectly acceptable for the segment. With the rise and fall of wavy sections of road, however, there is an undesirable, almost nautical, surging. Those sensitive to such undulations should pay attention to this during the test drive.
Noise & vibration8.5
There's no engine noise, and there isn't much wind noise either. Other sources of noise are well-controlled, and it's easy to hold normal conversations without the need for anyone to raise their voice. Pedestrians can hear an exaggerated battery hum outside the car and a dull chime in reverse.
The single-zone climate control is easy to use. The design avoids complication by leaning on large buttons and two knobs for all controls. The knobs manage temp and fan speed and the buttons everything else. Neat onboard meter tracks the real-time impact of climate control settings on battery range.
The Ioniq's interior is highly functional. Its controls are logically arranged, and its driver's seat is adjustable enough to accommodate people of all sizes. Most will find head- and legroom suitable for short-distance comfort. Taller drivers and passengers may complain on longer drives.
Ease of use8.0
All major controls and switches are placed where we expect and are easy to use. The infotainment system's large fixed buttons are welcome, but we're less enthusiastic about certain touchscreen buttons. Infotainment and navigation display screen is crisp, legible and resistant to sun-induced washout.
Getting in/getting out7.0
The front doors open wide and close with an satisfying thud despite being relatively lightweight. The seat bolstering isn't particularly aggressive, so it's easy to slide in. Adults entering the back seat may need to duck because of a tall seat position and a sloping roofline. But kids won't mind.
Most will find a comfortable driving position with minimal effort. There is a nice range of height and seat cushion adjustments, and the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel has good range. The feel of the steering wheel grip area is terrific, but its overall flat bottom shape is also polarizing.
Front-seat headroom is ample, even when the sunroof is present. Legroom is decent, though depending on seating position, there may not be enough to stretch on longer drives. But it's truly a snug fit for 6-footers in the backseat: headroom, toe room and kneeroom are in short supply for tall people.
The fore- and rearmost pillars are thick and create larger blind spots. The additional vertical glass below the rear window really helps visibility directly behind. The backup camera's field of view is on the small side but has helpful turning lines. Optional adaptive xenon headlights are fantastic.
Many of its drab, gray plastics and cloth surfaces look and feel low-rent, though their actual assembly is commendably tight. And our test car exhibited no squeaks or rattles.
By design, hatchbacks offer more utility than sedans. As much can be said about the Ioniq's advantage in this area over competitive compact sedans. When it comes to other hatchbacks, the Hyundai blends in. None of its small- or large-item storage features raise it above the norm.
We found plenty of space for our smaller items by using the door pockets, deep center bin and center console nooks. Our tester had the optional wireless charging slot, which was nearly the size of another cupholder. We'd probably opt for another cubby instead.
Hyundai lists the cargo volume at 23.8 cubic feet. We can tell you it is large enough for five carry-on-size suitcases behind the second row without impeding the driver's view over the seatbacks. The rear seats also split 60/40 and fold down nearly flat.
Child safety seat accommodation7.0
In its second row, the Ioniq has four LATCH anchors (two in each outboard position) and three tethers located on the seatbacks. The anchors were difficult to access due to the seat material on our car.
Its screen may be small, but it's well-lit and is easy to use. Bluetooth pairing is dead-simple, and smartphones can be connected with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The voice controls function well but have limited scope. Advanced driver aids are only available on the highest trim as an option.
Audio & navigation8.0
The touchscreen allows swiping and responds as quickly as competitive systems. It uses a grid layout to fit as much information as possible on its home screen. The 8-inch navigation screen is easy to read and zoom in and out on. And in our experience, the traffic alerts were accurate and timely.
Bluetooth pairing is simple and fast. This system also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Ioniq includes USB and auxiliary ports and two 12-volt accessory outlets below the radio. Another USB charge point is located in the center console, as is an optional Qi-spec wireless charging shelf.
Automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control are available, but only on the most expensive trim level. Some hybrid competitors — the 2018 Toyota Camry hybrid, specifically — are starting to include these aids across the range.
The Ioniq supports basic commands, such as making calls and switching the audio source, natively. And we found that the system understands commands well. The availability of Siri and Google Voice commands by pressing the voice button longer makes up for any deficits the standard system may have.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.