Hyundai has added a third model to the Ioniq platform of electric variants for the 2018 model year. The 2018 Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid offers the “range anxious” a compelling choice — pure electric range of 29 miles and a total range, when combined with the internal combustion engine (ICE), of more than 650 miles.
The first inclination would be to compare the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid to the sales leader of this small subset of EV/ICE models, the Chevrolet Volt. While total battery-only range for the Hyundai falls short of the 2018 Chevrolet Volt’s 53 miles, the Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid bests the Volt on total range (650 to 420 miles) and MSRP.
At $24,950 suggested retail (not including federal tax credits), the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid is the least expensive model on the market to offer electric-only range, coming in at about $9,000 less than the Volt and only a few thousand dollars more than its sister Ioniq hybrid.
The Ioniq family boasts a sleek look and an industry-leading .24 coefficient of drag, yet those aerodynamics disguise more space than expected. While I found the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid’s backseat small for adults, the model’s overall dimensions beat the Volt in overall passenger volume, including front and rear head and leg room, and trunk volume.
With a full battery charge, the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid does not necessarily operate on battery only. When a jolt of power is needed, or at speeds greater than 75 mph, the electric motor kicks in to deliver noticeable oomph — such as when I squealed the tires from one of Southern California’s ubiquitous freeway entry stop lights. (That said; let’s keep this from your fleet drivers with lead feet.)
Nearing depletion of the pure-electric battery charge, I tried to discern the changeover to the gas engine as well as a change in driving dynamics. Would the low-end EV torque give way to typical economy car shift lag and lack of power? The six-speed double clutch-transmission tailored to the hybrid battery took care of those worries, and this performance belies the four cylinder’s 1.6L, 104 hp specs.
The Ionic Plug-in Hybrid offers plenty of standard features for the base model, including connectivity through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless charging for smartphones. The high-definition 7-inch information cluster controls the cabin’s ecosystem.
Upgrading to the Limited trim provides a safety suite that includes automatic emergency braking, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-change assist, as well as LED headlights and leather seats.