2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Review
Edmunds expert review
Two decades in, the Toyota Prius still dominates the small hybrid market. Other automakers have introduced competing models — notably the Honda Insight, Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid and Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid — but none put a significant dent in the Toyota's runaway sales success. Hyundai thinks it's finally cracked the Prius code. Now in its second year of production, the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is the Prius' closest rival, with plenty of tech and safety features, quicker acceleration and a lower price point.
The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is a compact hatchback that earns the distinction as the most fuel-efficient non-plug-in hybrid on the market. In the EPA's combined cycle, the Ioniq Hybrid earns estimates of 55-58 mpg compared to the Prius' 52-56 mpg. Keep in mind, however, that incremental fuel gains at this level are not very significant. Even Ioniq drivers who put a ton of miles on their cars would see monetary savings in the tens of dollars each year.
More relevant is the Ioniq Hybrid's price, which is quite a bit less than that of a comparable Prius. The Ioniq's traditional exterior and interior design will also appeal to those turned off by the Prius' more adventurous styling, while techies will appreciate standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. (The Toyota offers neither.)
Alas, the Ioniq Hybrid stumbles in several critical areas that the Toyota doesn't. Rather than a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that most hybrids use, the Ioniq uses a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic. On top of harsh shift quality, the transmission has a difficult time figuring out which gear it wants to be in, especially after heavy braking.
Speaking of the brakes, every hybrid uses regenerative brakes to recharge the battery before handing it off to the mechanical brakes that bring the car to a full stop. In the Ioniq, this handoff isn't smooth. Combine this with the jerky downshifts, and passengers might question your experience driving cars. We also aren't fans of the Ioniq's busy ride and unsupportive seats.
While the 2018 Ioniq's price and fuel economy are obvious advantages, we suggest giving the Ioniq a thorough test drive before you choose it over the more established Prius.
What's new for 2018
Trim levels & features
The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is a compact hatchback with a hybrid powertrain and seating for five. The base Blue model is the most fuel-efficient of the group, with an EPA rating of 58 mpg combined compared to the other models' 55 mpg estimate. It's equipped with a few desirable features, including keyless entry and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The SEL doesn't cost much more and includes heated front seats and blind-spot monitoring among its upgrades. The top-trim Limited is a bit pricier but adds a ton of features, such as a sunroof, leather upholstery and xenon headlights.
Powering the Ioniq Hybrid is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. It's augmented by a electric motor fed by a lithium-ion battery pack. Total system output is 139 horsepower.
Standard features on Blue trims include 15-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, selectable driving modes, a driver information display, height-adjustable front seats, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a rearview camera, a 7-inch touchscreen interface, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, Bluetooth, a USB port, and satellite and HD radio.
SEL trims add LED daytime running lights and taillights, heated side mirrors, an upgraded driver information display, steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, heated front seats, a power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a charge-only USB port, a rear center armrest, and chrome interior and exterior accents. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are also included. An optional Tech package for the SEL adds adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and a lane departure and mitigation system.
On top of the SEL's features, the Limited trim adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, xenon headlights, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED cabin lighting and Hyundai's Blue Link telematics features. An optional Ultimate package includes the SEL's Tech package features as well as adaptive headlights, rear parking sensors, driver-seat memory settings, rear air vents, a cargo cover, wireless device charging, an Infinity eight-speaker sound system, navigation and an 8-inch touchscreen.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Blue (1.6L inline-4 hybrid | 6-speed dual-clutch automatic | FWD).
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Ioniq Hybrid has received only minor revisions. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Ioniq Hybrid.
Noise & vibration6.0
Ease of use8.0
Getting in/getting out7.0
Child safety seat accommodation7.0
Audio & navigation7.0
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.