In today’s car market, where plug-ins are plentiful, it’s easy to forget about the original green car, the hybrid. As more automakers have tried to boost the efficiency of their lineups, it’s no surprise that the number of hybrid vehicles has increased over the years. What is surprising, though, is that there have been few direct rivals to the hybrid trendsetter, the Toyota Prius. Until now. Meet the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid – Hyundai’s first-ever dedicated hybrid vehicle.
Hyundai launched this hybrid hatchback for the 2017 model year, and the lineup has since grown to include the Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid and Ioniq Electric, giving Hyundai a broad product mix to compete against other hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and EVs on the market. In fact, Hyundai touts the Ioniq as the “world’s first dedicated vehicle platform with three electrified low-and zero-emission powertrain choices.” Key rivals to the Ioniq Hybrid include the Prius, Kia Niro and Honda Insight, and we spent a week in the fully loaded 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Limited to see if Hyundai has what it takes to dethrone the Prius as king of the hybrids.
2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Exterior
When it comes to the overall design of the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, Hyundai took an obvious page right out of Toyota’s Prius playbook, and gave it streamlined, fastback shape. Matching the current-gen Prius, the Ioniq has a drag coefficient of just 0.24, which lets this car slip right through the air. While Prius designers have always made sure their hybrid has its own look, the Ioniq shares a familial styling with other Hyundai cars, especially up front, where the hexagonal grille, vertical LED running lights, and angled headlights clearly identify as the company’s handiwork.
From the rear tires forward, the Ioniq actually has a sedan-like profile, with the rear-end finished with a aero-friendly liftback and split rear window for improved visibility. The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid looks surprisingly staid when parked next to any number of today’s green cars including the Prius, Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf. And depending on how much you like the styling of those vehicles? That could be a great thing. The Limited trim level adds stylish touches like the 17-inch alloy wheels and HID headlights.
2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Interior
The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is similar in size to the compact Elantra sedan, but the EPA categorizes it as a large car, thanks to its sizable cabin offering up 122.7 cubic feet of interior volume. Compared to the Prius, this added space is most obvious in the rear seat, where the Ioniq is far roomier than its key rival. Five adults have no problem fitting in the Ioniq Hybrid, and this hatchback can accommodate 26.5 cubic feet of cargo as well.
Inside, the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid also offers a more traditional car-like experience rather than the quirky cabin of most hybrids out there. Not only is the cabin design refreshingly normal, that flat-bottomed steering wheel adds a nice, sporty touch. New for 2018, the Ioniq Hybrid also adds paddle shifters to the steering wheel (on SEL and Limited trim levels), which are especially helpful during brake regen deceleration.
The Ioniq Limited comes standard with a luxurious cabin that includes leather seats with heated front seats, Blue Link Connected Car Services, power sunroof and LED cabin lights. This tester added the $2,200 Ultimate Package bringing navigation with the larger eight-inch display, an eight-speaker Infinity audio system, two memory settings for the driver’s seat, wireless smartphone charger, rear HVAC vents, and a cargo cover.
2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Powertrain
The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is powered by a 104-horsepower 1.6-liter direct-injected four-cylinder paired to a 43-horsepower electric motor and lithium-ion polymer battery. The combined hybrid output of 139 horsepower is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. This entire powertrain combination gives the Ioniq Hybrid a Prius-beating EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 55 mpg in the city and 54 mpg on the highway** (on the Limited, the Blue trim level gets 57 city/59 highway), but the transmission is what makes this hybrid hatchback more fun to drive than others in the segment.
Hyundai’s DCT gives the Ioniq actual shift points instead of the endless shift band that CVT-equipped hybrids have, which results in smoother acceleration, less noise under acceleration and a more enjoyable driving experience; tapping the gear shifter into Sport mode makes this even better – not Elantra GT fun, but pretty close. Unless you’re feather soft on the throttle, you won’t get much all-electric range on this hybrid, but you don’t have to drive this car gingerly to attain its fuel economy ratings. During my week with the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, I had no problem eclipsing 60 mpg in city driving, while highway driving was usually in the low 50-mpg range. When it came time to give the Ioniq back, I had averaged over 58 mpg on half a tank’s worth of driving.
2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Safety
The Ioniq comes standard with plenty of standard safety features, while the Limited trim adds features such as automatic high beam assist, blind-spot detection with rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist. The aforementioned Ultimate Package delivers ultimate safety with automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, smart cruise control, dynamic bending headlights and rear parking sensors.
2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Overall
There’s no hiding the fact that Hyundai benchmarked the Prius in every facet to create the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, but while others have come up short, the Ioniq hits this hybrid nail on the head. Rather than simply focusing on efficiency, the Ioniq Hybrid is the complete package with a family-friendly interior, a recognizable Hyundai design, and a driving dynamic that is as enjoyable and rewarding.
The entire 2018 Hyundai Ioniq range (Hybrid, Plug-In and Electric) is extremely affordable with starting MSRPs ranging from $22,400* for the Hybrid to $29,500* for the Electric. This tester was a Ioniq Hybrid Limited that starts at $28,550, and the all-in Ultimate Package raised the as-tested price to $31,560. And if that’s not enough value, the Ioniq Hybrid is covered by Hyundai’s impressive warranties, which include a five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and powertrain and hybrid warranties that are both good for 10 years or 100,000 miles!
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Hyundai dealership and test drive the 2018 Ioniq Hybrid today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.