2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Review

The Hyundai Ioniq is a less expensive alternative for those looking for a hybrid hatchback.
6.7 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

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

Steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles have been added to SEL and Limited trims. The lane departure warning system now has a lane-keeping assist function to prevent you from drifting out of your lane unintentionally. Otherwise, the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is unchanged from its introduction last year.

We recommend

The Blue trim sips less fuel than the others (its EPA combined rating is 58 mpg compared to other models' 55 mpg), but it's a little too lightly optioned for our tastes. And when you're talking about cars this fuel-efficient, 3 mpg really isn't much. If it were our money, we'd upgrade to the SEL. It's a small price jump (and just a few dollars more than a base Prius) to add a ton of features, including heated front seats, a power driver seat and blind-spot monitoring. The SEL's optional Tech package adds a few more driving aids.




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.



Trim tested

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.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall6.7 / 10

Driving

5.5 / 10

Acceleration6.5 / 10
Braking5.5 / 10
Steering5.5 / 10
Handling6.0 / 10
Drivability5.5 / 10

Comfort

6.0 / 10

Seat comfort6.0 / 10
Ride comfort5.0 / 10
Noise & vibration6.0 / 10
Climate control8.0 / 10

Interior

7.5 / 10

Ease of use8.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.0 / 10
Driving position8.0 / 10
Roominess7.0 / 10
Visibility6.0 / 10
Quality7.0 / 10

Utility

7.0 / 10

Small-item storage7.5 / 10
Cargo space7.0 / 10

Technology

7.5 / 10

Audio & navigation7.0 / 10
Smartphone integration8.0 / 10
Voice control7.0 / 10

Driving5.5

The Ioniq's weakest area is its everyday driving demeanor. It accelerates tepidly unless you floor it; steering is vague yet well-weighted. A relatively light car whose bumpy-road handling gives the impression of a heavier, blunter car. The current Prius is significantly superior in this category.

Acceleration6.5

The Ioniq feels reluctant and sluggish around town, requiring more pedal input than expected when in default mode. Sport mode provides much more natural acceleration but sacrifices efficiency. In our testing, the Ioniq accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds, which is about a second quicker than a Prius.

Braking5.5

Pedal effort is springy and on the light side. The way it blends regenerative and friction braking feels unnatural. And under moderately heavy to full panic braking, the nose dives pretty dramatically, which can be unsettling.

Steering5.5

The mushy on-center steering feel adds a challenge to maintaining lane position at freeway speeds. The effort is suitable at all speeds, never too light or too heavy. But it's nearly completely lifeless, communicating little about the road and the state of grip to the driver.

Handling6.0

The Ioniq's handling is benign but has low limits. Its tires howl in protest even in moderately quick turns. It turns into a corner cleanly and without much hesitation. But when it encounters bumps, it reacts like a much heavier car, with exaggerated up-and-down ride motions.

Drivability5.5

There's a distinct lack of regenerative braking when coasting so you have to be on the brake pedal more often. Shift quality, responsiveness and acceleration smoothness are inconsistent. It seems like the transmission is easily tripped up, especially immediately after hard braking.

Comfort6.0

The Ioniq's unsupportive seats and conflicted ride quality won't win over any hearts, though its climate control interface stands out for its simplicity and innovative driver-only mode. The good isolation from engine vibration is overshadowed by the road noise, which is noticeable at all speeds.

Seat comfort6.0

The flat-bottom seat cushion lacks lower thigh and lateral support. The backrest portion is better and the cloth upholstery feels durable, but we felt squirmy after a couple of hours. The back seat is flat, upright and quite firmly padded. Also, the front seat adjustments are manual on this trim.

Ride comfort5.0

The Ioniq's ride is somewhat busy, and it'll go up and down in an exaggerated manner on lumpy road sections. It's also a little floaty at times, which means it exhibits the kind of ride movements that might make sensitive types nauseated.

Noise & vibration6.0

Road noise and patter are transmitted into the cabin to an undesirable degree. The engine is relatively muted by comparison, though it's still audible. The engine is well-isolated in terms of vibration; it doesn't shake the cabin when it comes online. Wind noise is reasonably well-suppressed.

Climate control8.0

It has a nice, simple layout with large buttons and two easy-to-use knobs for temperature. The clever driver-only setting saves energy. It shows no problems battling summer temps and keeping the cabin cool with a minimum of fan noise. We like that dual-zone automatic climate control is standard.

Interior7.5

Functionally, the Ioniq's interior succeeds. Its controls are laid out well, and its height-adjustable and long-travel driver seat should accommodate people of all sizes. There's also ample head- and legroom up front. Backseat passengers don't fare nearly as well.

Ease of use8.0

The Ioniq's placement of controls is clear and logical with lots of large buttons. The infotainment screen is high-resolution and doesn't wash out, and the menu flow is simple (no navigation). The redundant hard keys are a nice touch, too.

Getting in/getting out7.0

The front doors are usefully long and open wide, and the wide but low sills and minimal seat bolsters help access. Access to the rear seat is more narrow; the narrowness, combined with the gently sloping roofline and high seat, hampers entry to a degree.

Driving position8.0

It's easy to find a suitable driving position thanks to a good range of adjustment in both the seat and the tilt-and-telescoping steering column. As a bonus, the steering wheel also offers terrific grip shapes.

Roominess7.0

There's ample legroom and headroom for tall drivers, thanks in part to the lack of a sunroof. Inside the car feels airy, and the pedal box for the driver's feet is sufficiently wide. Six-footers in the backseat are somewhat cramped with limited headroom and toe room. Decent kneeroom, though.

Visibility6.0

The front windshield pillar bases and rearmost pillars are a bit chunky and can be obstructing. But there's a decent rear view, thanks to split glass in the hatch. (The bisecting beam is an unfortunate byproduct.) The backup camera view is smallish and not especially sharp, but it's adequate.

Quality7.0

Many of the Ioniq's drab, gray plastics and cloth surfaces look and feel low-rent, though their assembly is commendably tight. The console bin lid and door panel creak readily when touched.

Utility7.0

Its cargo hold is relatively basic but sizable enough to swallow most everyday items you'd want to transport. The cabin nooks up front are an appropriate number, though backseat occupants don't have nearly as many options.

Small-item storage7.5

A tall, narrow console bin and open, narrow slot are surprisingly useful; so is the well forward of the shift selector. The door pockets are useful for water bottles only, and the glovebox is basic. The back seat has only two tiny door pockets and a net on the back of the passenger front seat.

Cargo space7.0

The back seat is split 60/40 and folds nearly flat. The hatch opens high so tall people won't hit their heads on it, but the liftover height is on the tall side. The cargo hold measures 26.5 cubic feet (vs. the Prius' 24.6 cubes) and is wide, if not that tall, at the aft-most point.

Child safety seat accommodation7.0

The outboard seat LATCH anchors are buried deep between the cushions and are somewhat hard to reach. The top tether points are obscured by a retractable cargo shade.

Technology7.5

Its screen may be small, but it's well-lit and responds well to touch inputs. Device integration and phone pairing are simple and support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The native voice controls function well but are limited in what they can control.

Audio & navigation7.0

The small infotainment screen supports swiping gestures and responds reasonably quick, making the most of its size. The audio system has a brassy sound quality, with minimal bass. There's no native navigation system, but you can navigate using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Smartphone integration8.0

Bluetooth pairing is simple and fast, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is standard. There are USB and auxiliary ports and two 12-volt accessory outlets, which is nice.

Driver aids

A good number of optional driver aids are available for the SEL and Limited trims, including adaptive cruise, blind-spot monitoring with lane change assist, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and a rearview camera with rear cross-traffic alert.

Voice control7.0

Voice recognition (VR) supports only basic commands (phone calls, switching audio source) natively, but it responds well. In any case, that's where Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come in. You can access your smartphone's VR by holding the Ioniq's VR button for a few seconds.

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.