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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq SEL

      A real challenger to the Prius?

    Can any automaker out-do the Toyota Prius? Some have tried and ultimately have failed in one way or another. But the latest challenger, the Hyundai Ioniq, appears to be a formidable opponent. On paper, the Ioniq boasts higher fuel economy figures than the Prius. It also features a design that will not scare people away. We spent a week in the midlevel SEL to find out if the Prius needs to watch its back.

    The Ioniq’s design appears to be heavily influenced by the second and third-generation Prius. This is shown in the overall profile and rear tailgate design. The front end comes with a large hexagonal grille, raked projector headlights, and deep cuts in the bumpers enclosing a set of LEDs. The only downside to the Ioniq’s design is the plastic rectangle around the Hyundai emblem on the front. It looks out of place, but that houses the radar system needed for the automatic braking and adaptive cruise control systems.

    “It seems quite normal,” will be thought of many when they come inside the Ioniq. There is no futuristic design, joystick controller for the transmission, or endless acres of white plastic trim. This is an interior you might expect to find in the Elantra compact sedan. Material quality is similar to what you’ll find in a Toyota Prius - a mix of hard and soft plastics. The control layout is simple and is within easy reach for those sitting up front. The SEL comes with cloth upholstery and a power driver’s seat. Finding a comfortable position isn’t too hard with the power adjustments and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel. But the Ioniq’s front seats do falter on long trips. I found myself squirming around the seat after driving the vehicle for an hour. The back comes up slightly short in terms of head and legroom for taller passengers. For example, I’m 5’9” and my head was touching the headliner.

    A 7-inch infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is standard on all Ioniqs. A larger 8-inch system with navigation is only available on the top-line Limited trim. Hyundai offers one of the better infotainment systems with an easy-to-understand interface, quick performance, and having physical shortcut buttons to various functions. The only thing I wished Hyundai would do is making the 8-inch screen standard. This would make it easier to read the information at a quick glance.

    Hyundai employs a 1.6L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine, a 32 kW electric motor, and a Lithium-ion Polymer battery for the Ioniq’s hybrid powertrain. Total output is rated at 139 horsepower, 18 more than in the Prius. Around town, the Ioniq is noticeably faster than the Prius. I had no problems with keeping up with the flow of traffic. Sport mode does sharpen acceleration, but it will eat into fuel economy. Like the Prius, the Ioniq does struggle with getting up to speed on the freeway. The six-speed dual-clutch automatic didn’t exhibit the hesitation to drop down a gear or the clunky gear changes that I experienced in the Kia Niro. It delivered smooth and quick shifts.

    The EPA rates the 2017 Ioniq SEL at 55 City/54 Highway/55 Combined - better the 54/50/52 for the Prius. My average for the week was a disappointing 45 mpg. Some of this can be explained by the extremely cold temps that hit the Detroit-area only a couple days into my loan. This caused the gas engine to run constantly to keep the vehicle warm. 

    Like the Prius, the Ioniq is surprisingly fun to drive. There is little body roll and the vehicle quickly transitions from one turn to another. Steering has decent weight when turning, but is devoid of feel, something common in the class. The Ioniq comes up slightly short in terms of ride quality. On rough roads, the Ioniq lets in more bumps than the Prius. There is also a fair amount of tire roar that comes inside when driving on the freeway.

    Pricing is a strong point for the Ioniq. The midlevel SEL trim begins at $23,950. With the optional tech package (adds adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning) and floor mats, the as-tested price comes to $25,910. Taking into account what you get for the price, the Ioniq continues Hyundai’s reputation of delivering a lot of car for the money.

    As my time with the Ioniq was coming to a close, I found myself stumped between choosing the Ioniq and Prius. The Ioniq has the less outlandish design, better performance, higher fuel economy figures (on paper), and value. But the Prius can hold its own as it has a better balance between ride and handling, slightly larger back seat, and impressive real-world fuel economy figures. Plus, the Prius name holds a lot more recognition than the Ioniq.

    Despite the positives, the Ioniq finds itself between a rock and hard place.

    Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Ioniq, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2017
    Make: Hyundai
    Model: Ioniq
    Trim: SEL
    Engine: 1.6L GDI Atkinson Cycle Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor
    Driveline: Six-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission, Front-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 104 @ 5,700 (Gas), 43 @ 0 (Electric), 139 (Combined)
    Torque @ RPM: 109 @ 4,000 (Gas), 125 @ 0 (Electric)
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 55/54/55
    Curb Weight: 3,031 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea
    Base Price: $23,950
    As Tested Price: $25,910 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Tech Package - $1,000.00
    Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00

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    3rd Paragraph, first sentence

    You wrote:

    “It seems quite normal,” will be thought of many when they come inside the Ioniq.

    I think you need a "by" after of written as such:

    “It seems quite normal,” will be thought of by many when they come inside the Ioniq.

     

    OUTSTANDING, Thank you for referencing your height in regards to the back seat. That really is important I believe to shoppers.

     

    Last Paragraph,  2nd sentence you have an extra "the":

    You wrote: 

    The Ioniq has the less the outlandish design, better performance, higher fuel economy figures (on paper), and value.

    I think this "the" needs to go:

    The Ioniq has the less the outlandish design, better performance, higher fuel economy figures (on paper), and value.

     

    overall good read, enjoyed it. 

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    The Ioniq does look more like a normal hatchback, it lacks the Prius' distinctive weirdness.   One odd detail I noticed on one at the auto show Saturday is the door handles and bright trim around the side windows was a dull silver, rather than shiny chrome, which is different...

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    We've had a few back in the shop already for substantial warranty work.  One had the engine out of it and most of the interior.  Not a fan, but I like the looks of it.  It will never penetrate the Prius' armor though.

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    On 2/27/2018 at 10:19 AM, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    The Ioniq does look more like a normal hatchback, it lacks the Prius' distinctive weirdness.   One odd detail I noticed on one at the auto show Saturday is the door handles and bright trim around the side windows was a dull silver, rather than shiny chrome, which is different...

    Maybe it's just me, but  I like the simple look.

    Starting to think this may become the next battleground car....as I expect gas prices to shoot up at some point....

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    gas prices some day going up, is why we have cruzes and mid size cars that post mpg north of 35 these days......even if they don't sell well when gas is 2.50 and people buy trucks and SUV's again, they are ready to go when gas shoots up again.

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    U.S. oil inventories are down still because major refineries in Texas were doing a lot of overhauls and maintenance.

     

    I couldn't believe it, oil hovering around $60 a barrel and gas selling for $1.30 CAD per litre. 4L is a little more than 1 gallon, so we were paying like $5.10 per gallon. And we still are. Well, atleast Europe is more brutal for gas than even Canada.

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      Both of the Sonatas on test came in the Limited trim which means a bountiful selection of technology. It begins with a 10.2-inch TFT display for the instrument cluster which provides all of the key information needed at a glance. A clever trick is when you engage the turn signal, the respective 'dial' brings up a camera mounted underneath the side view mirrors to provide a blind-spot view. I found this system to be helpful as it gave me an extra set of eyes whenever I needed to change lanes.

      Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      I rarely get the opportunity to drive two different flavors of the same vehicle within a short timeframe. But that's what happened in the fall when I had the chance to drive the new Hyundai Sonata in its standard and hybrid forms. The Sonata has always been a favorite of mine as it offered a lot for a midsize sedan, with a surprising price tag. It has also come very close to being at the top of the class, but falling somewhat short due to one thing or another. This new version has the chance of changing that.
      Very Polarizing Design

      The consensus from several readers on Cheers & Gears and various social media sites on the Sonata's design was of dislike. Many found the design to be a bit much and overdone. I found myself in the minority as I was impressed by the lengths Hyundai went. The flowing lines and raked roofline reminded me of the 2012 Sonata which gave notice to other automakers to step up their game. Little details such as the bars the run along the outer edge of the hood to the headlights to a distinct rear-end treatment make the Sonata stand out.
      If there is an issue I have with the Sonata's design, it is the grille. I find it to be slightly cartoonish due to the large size and shape.
      Simple, Yet Elegant Interior
      If you're worried that the polarizing ideas from the exterior make their way inside, don't. The interior is surprisingly sedate with clean lines and a simple design. Hyundai should be commended for using a lot of soft-touch plastics and leather on various surfaces. It makes the Sonata look and feel more premium than its price tag may suggest.

      Despite the coupe-inspired roofline, the Sonata's interior space is quite spacious. Most no one will have any complaints sitting in the back as there is ample head and legroom. Taller passengers should be aware that the optional panoramic sunroof for the Sonata will take away some headroom. The Sonata Hybrid doesn't worry about that as it doesn't offer the sunroof.
      Tech Galore!
      Both of the Sonatas on test came in the Limited trim which means a bountiful selection of technology. It begins with a 10.2-inch TFT display for the instrument cluster which provides all of the key information needed at a glance. A clever trick is when you engage the turn signal, the respective 'dial' brings up a camera mounted underneath the side view mirrors to provide a blind-spot view. I found this system to be helpful as it gave me an extra set of eyes whenever I needed to change lanes.

      Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
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