Hyundai launches Prius competitor with a quirky ironic name


I was going to make a spin of the words surrounding the Alanis Morissette song “Ironic” but scouring the interwebs, I found several of my other auto journalist friends beat me to the clever play on the word of Hyundai’s newest car – the Ioniq. So rather, I’ll pass up the pun and just speak about this hybrid. I am a big fan of Hyundai’s playbook. They’re following the Toyota and Honda playbook when they first jumped into the U.S. market. They’ve successfully launched a luxury line, independent of the Hyundai nameplate and now they’ve got their version of the Prius. But, can this Ioniq make headway against King Prius?

As is the case with other Hyundai endeavors, they’re all in on this launch. They didn’t half-ass any effort in regards to this hatchback. The Ioniq is available, like the Prius, as a hybrid, an electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid. It’s good that it caters this fuel-sipping compact to the tree hugging crowd, who has very specific wants and needs from a “green” car.


My tester was the standard hybrid. In this capacity, the Ioniq is adequate. It looks pretty mainstream and less “hybridy” and that’s a good thing. Hyundai’s styling has been on point for several years now, and the Ioniq fits in well with the rest of the Hyundai’s offering. The back end of the Ioniq is the best side, with a sloping C-pillar and a chiseled rear hatch and a large defined back bumper, there’s a good amount of styling distinction on the Ioniq. Just as the Prius has developed a more mainstream, but distinctive look, so too has the Ioniq.


Let’s face it, true hybrids like the Ioniq aren’t known for impressive power. They really just need to get out of their own way and maintain a comfortable cruising speed on the highway. The Ioniq has a 1.6-liter engine, mated with an electric motor assist for a combined horsepower of 139. That output puts the numb in number. There’s nothing fun or exciting about the Ioniq. It’s comparable to the new generation Prius. Off the line it’s sloth-like, but otherwise, once up to speed it does an admirable job of getting you from point a to point b. And that’s essentially the purpose of this utilitarian fuel sipper. The six-speed dual-clutch transmission is unnoticeable and that’s a good thing. It does its job without being too restrictive or too loud.


The Prius still maintains a quirky interior that some like, but some find repelling. The Ioniq’s interior is more timeless. The materials used are of good quality. The seats are comfortable. There are heated front seats, which is a nice surprise in a hybrid. The back seat has adequate seating for adults. Two adults and one child could fit in the back seat with enough legroom and headroom, despite the angle of the C-pillar.

The trunk’s cargo room is impressive. There’s 26.5 cubic feet of space, which is impressive for a hybrid, where the battery pack usually eats into the trunk space.

A 7-inch infotainment touchscreen is intuitive and has integration with smart phones through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Hyundai’s infotainment system is above average when compared to others on the market. It’s easy to use, but does some have some slow response time with touch commands, especially on startup when there can be upwards of a minute delay before the main screen comes on. Other than this annoyance, the infotainment system does a good job in the Ioniq.


The EPA gives the hybrid Ioniq a rating off 55 mpg. So when searching for a car that will have fewer trips to the gas pump, the Ioniq has to be near the top of your search. In a week’s worth of mostly suburban driving, I barely used a quarter tank of gas and averaged well over 50 mpg. And essentially, that’s the purpose of this new car from Hyundai.


It’s also affordable. My tester, the SEL trim had a starting price of $23,950. The simplicity of trims and pricing make the Ioniq a good choice for the consumer. There are only two trims and the starting price is under $22,000 for the lower trim Ioniq. My tester had a final MSRP of $25,910.

All word play aside, I tip my hat to Hyundai for putting thought into each product launch. They aren’t just rushing to market but rather offer the consumer a viable option within each new segment. The Ioniq is a legitimate rival to the Prius.


2017 Hyundai Ioniq SEL

Price/As tested price…………………………. $23,950/$26,910

Mileage……………………………………  55 mpg/city; 54 mpg/hwy

Engine……………………………………… 1.6-liter, with electric motor assist

Horsepower…………………………… 139 hp/109 lbs./ft.

Transmission…………………………… 6-speed dual clutch (automatic)

Drive Wheels…………………….. Front-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point…………………… Ulsan, Korea

Jimmy Dinsmore
For several years Jimmy Dinsmore has reviewed new vehicles, offering up a unique look and an interesting voice in his weekly column. Jimmy looks at vehicles from the consumer’s point of view. Light on the technical jargon, and lacking the cynicism that pervades many other auto reviews, Driver’s Side treats each vehicle fairly, offering a light-hearted take. Email him at - and follow him on Twitter @driversside.