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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, after months and months of waiting and anticipation, I finally test-drove an Ioniq Hybrid today at the dealership in El Paso, Texas.

To be brief, it met or exceeded all of my admittedly lofty expectations except in one area, which I’ll get to in a minute.

It was an SEL model with the Tech Package option, in gray exterior with charcoal black interior. I was pleased to see that “black” doesn’t really mean “black”—the interior was more like a dark gray. That’s a plus here in the sunny Southwestern U.S. desert, where true black interiors can get so hot in the summer that you can literally burn your hand on the steering wheel.

Fit and finish were exemplary. All the bits and pieces inside and out were straight, true, plumb, aligned, flush, even, etc. There were no misaligned panel seams, no protruding edges, no crooked components—the whole car was solid and firm. It had the impression of being very well screwed together, and exuded an air that, to me, would have been appropriate in a much pricier car. Never having owned a Hyundai, I wasn’t sure what to expect in this area, but I was very pleased with its apparent quality.

I won’t rehash observations that many other people have already made when they took their own test drives. But let me just discharge my Action Item and say that yes, this model DID have Sport Mode. I tried it briefly, in this car and in some others that I’ve driven in the past, but I never got used to manually shifting automatic transmissions—my brain doesn’t want to let me shift unless my foot is depressing the clutch pedal—so I think I’ll just leave Sport Mode alone. I suspect all Ioniqs, including the entry-level Blue model, have the same Sport-Mode-equipped transmission.

By the way, I also checked for the rubber trim ring that some buyers here have reported missing from the A/C vents on the rear of the center console. Guess what? The car I drove had NO vents in that location. The rear of the console was bare, unadorned (although nicely textured) plastic. I assume rear seat A/C and heater ducts only come on the Limited model.

One feature that I wasn’t sure I’d like was the crosshatched texture on top of the dash, rather than the traditional randomly stippled surface. I found it quite attractive, though, and I don’t think it cheapened the interior at all as I feared it might.

Also, there was very, very little smell inside, of the new-car persuasion or otherwise—much less than all other new cars that I’ve bought over the years. There certainly was no unpleasant, harsh or chemical odor.

Now, to the one and only thing that fell short of my expectations. Accelerating from a stop, I found the Ioniq to be noticeably harsher and less refined than my ’04 Prius. A distinct hesitation made me want to push harder on the gas pedal to try to get the car moving when it didn’t seem to respond immediately, which could have led to a PIO (Pilot Induced Oscillation—Google it if you want to know more about what that means). I don’t know, but the transmission might have a “learning mode,” and, if it does, it might take a little time for it to dial in its driver’s parameters and smooth out. While this behavior was slightly disappointing, it’s probably something that’s fairly easy to get used to. It’s not a deal-breaker for me.

On the road, I found handling and dynamic responsiveness to be far better than my Prius. The Ioniq is no sports car, of course, but when I applied small step inputs to the perfectly sized-and-shaped steering wheel, response was immediate and precise. I really liked the feel of taut control that it gave me.

And QUIET! This was the quietest car I’ve ever driven, including at 65mph on a brief stretch of notoriously badly paved Interstate freeway. My three sports cars all produce cacophonies of noise, in addition to bone-jarring rides, and even my Prius makes its share of racket on bad roads. But the Ioniq was remarkably calm and serene inside. In fact, it’s quietness is the single most vivid impression that I took away from this test drive.

I didn’t get to try out much of the added-on tech package, but I have no reason to believe that it won’t work well. I especially found the backup camera to be very usable (unlike those on some other cars that I’ve tried). I liked the relative profusion of real physical buttons on the center stack, and the touchscreen was very responsive with excellent graphics.

Just a few more random things: 1) There IS a discrete step of about two inches or so in the cargo area floor with the rear seats folded down, rather than it being completely flat. 2) NO cargo area cover came with this model, but the sales person said that can be bought as an accessory (I don’t think he really knew that for sure, though). 3) There’s no spare tire—just an inflation kit. But there is a threaded bracket under the rear floor into which a spare tire holder could be screwed. Again, the sales person said spare tire kits are available as accessories, but the underfloor recess is very shallow, so it would be a tight fit. 4) There IS definitely the infamous “Recharge 12-Volt Battery” button that has been the subject of much discussion on this forum. I didn’t test it…

My original intention to order an Ioniq Hybrid Limited with the Ultimate Package survived my first contact with the car. And, in fact, the gray exterior looked pretty nice, so I may even be able to back away from my fixation on blue as the only choice among the boring palette of exterior color choices. If only the Phoenix Orange were available in the U.S!
 

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good detailed review


the gearbox does learn for the first 1000-1500 miles so until then its a bit rougher when pushed, so if the demo was brand new that could explain some of the issues you had,


the spare wheel in the UK is one of the thin space saver wheels hence the shallow wheel well
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
bluecar1,

Thanks.

Yeah, I was definitely the first one to drive this car, as it was just unloaded from the truck yesterday. I wasn't sure about the "learning" gearbox, so thanks for confirming that.

I'm sure Hyundai can supply a space-saver spare that will fit inside the wheel well. That's fairly important to me, since I have more flat tires than anyone I know--three in a three-month period several years ago, on three separate cars. And service stations are few and far between in much of the barren desert environment around where I live, so I'd just as soon not have to depend on a tube of goop and an air pump that probably wouldn't work to fix a flat anyway.

My take is that the Ioniq is a really nice car, and I envy you for having yours already. Enjoy!
 

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My overwhelming first impression when driving the Ioniq SEL was that it was gutless and extemely slow. It seemed like I had to give it half throttle to get it to move at all. It's not a deal killer but it would take a lot of getting used to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Jay,

Yeah, you're basically saying the same thing I said about "hesitation" from a stop, but in different words.

In my case, however, that behavior, as noticeable as it was, did not detract too much from my overall very favorable impression. I think I'd get used to it, and, as bluecar1 pointed out, it might get less pronounced over the first 1.000 miles or so as the transmission learns its driver's style. Besides, my '04 Prius is the same way, to a lesser (and variable) degree, so it may just be a price one pays for improved efficiency.

I definitely did NOT find the car "gutless" or "extremely slow" in accelerating on an Interstate on-ramp. It gained speed so smoothly and with so little drama that I was surprised to see how fast I was going when I stopped concentrating on merging and glanced at the speedometer.

I liked the rest of the car so much that I'm willing to forgive a little sluggishness off the line, especially since I have no current plans to drag race it.
 

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I think for some reason it gives the wrong impression of the speed you are doing or how quick it picks up speed unless you look at the speedo

But at the end of the day it depends what sort of car you are coming from as to whether you think it is quick, ok or slow
 

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I didn't get a chance to accelerate onto a freeway or highway. My disappointment with the throttle response was tempered by my 78 mpg aFCD after the 8 mile drive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Jay,

I have no idea what "aFCD" means, but from the context I assume it was the MPG reading that the car reported on the info display. Mine was 53.5 MPG on about a five-mile drive. Both numbers are statistically useless for such small distances, of course.
 

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short runs are not totally representative as it depends on the charge in the battery at the start will determine how much time you will have EV mode available


a full battery will mean a couple of miles of EV on flat road straight away, an empty battery means 2-3 miles to charge the battery before you can take full advantage of the battery
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Right, bluecar1.

That's why I'm not even thinking about what MPG I got during my test drive. Heck, I was playing around with Sport Mode, blipping the throttle, exercising the brakes, evaluating the steering feel with side-to-side pulses and everything else, so I'm surprised it registered as high as it did.

But I put NO stock in that number as an indicator of long-term fuel economy. I'll be delighted if the Ioniq beats what I get in my current '04 Prius, and I think it can probably do that handily even if I fill up the boot with bags of cement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Jay,

Aha. I figured it was something like that, but hadn't seen those specific letters to describe it. Thanks.
 

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The Ioniq's are just starting to trickle into the mountain west. So far, all I have seen on the inventory are Blue's and Premium's. Has anyone seen a SEL in your neighborhood?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Stirfelt,

The Hybrid that I test-drove in El Paso on Wednesday was an SEL with the Tech Package. It was the only one the dealer had, but he told me that eight more are inbound. I don't know their specs, though.
 

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The Ioniq's are just starting to trickle into the mountain west. So far, all I have seen on the inventory are Blue's and Premium's. Has anyone seen a SEL in your neighborhood?
My local dealer has an SEL but no tech package. In fact, my entire region has no tech package equipped Ioniqs. I think most buyers in the US are like myself: we're still on the fence waiting for inventory and selection to build and for prices to soften. Meanwhile, dealers are extremely reluctant to get new inventory of a hybrid car when their better sellers sit on the lots with no buyers. It's likely to be a long wait.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Jay,

Inbound to my local dealer, with arrival imminent, is EXACTLY the car I want--a blue Limited with the Ultimate Package. However, my wife and I are heading off on a month-long cross-country road trip very soon, so I'm not going to buy this one because it will most likely arrive while we're gone--if my luck holds true to form, it'll show up on the day we leave, and I don't want it to sit around for a long time at the dealer before I can pick it up.

So I'll wait until we get back and then put dibs on the next one that comes in. Hopefully the pipeline will be flowing with regular deliveries of all versions by the time we return.

I don't really care about the price softening. I think I'll get a decent deal from the dealer that I've been interfacing with for many months, and that's good enough for me.
 
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