When it comes to electric vehicles, one of the most neglected and underrated manufacturers is Hyundai Motor Group and its three brands, Hyundai, Kia and Genesis. Across the group, we will soon see a range of nearly two dozen EVs that all feature some surprisingly advanced technology. The first of those to hit the market is the 2022 Ioniq 5 that should be getting to customers in the next couple of weeks and which we recently had the chance to drive.
Hyundai has had a car called the Ioniq since 2016 which was marketed as the brand’s first electrified only model. It was a five-door hatchback with almost identical dimensions and profile to a Toyota Prius and was clearly targeted at the hybrid pioneer. It was derived from the platform of the compact Elantra and offered with a choice of hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric drivetrains. Since it wasn’t really designed from scratch as an EV, it had limited space for a battery so Hyundai focused more on efficiency than range. That Ioniq came out with 127 miles of driving range which later got upgraded to 170 miles.
The Ioniq name is now shifting from a single car to become an electric sub-brand for Hyundai with several models. The Ioniq 5 is a compact crossover with a slightly smaller footprint than the Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E and slightly larger than VW’s ID.4. Next year, the Ioniq 6 arrives as a midsize sedan and in 2023 the Ioniq 7 will be a 3-row SUV.
At 182.5-inches long, the Ioniq 5 is nearly equal to the 2021 Tucson although it is 1-inch wider and 2.6-inches lower. It also has 1.0 to 2.2-inches less ground clearance than the front and all wheel drive versions of the Tucson so this is clearly a vehicle meant for streets rather than trails. The biggest difference is the 9.6-inches of extra wheelbase on the Ioniq. Looking at it in profile, it’s clear that Hyundai designers have taken advantage of the compact size of the motors to push the wheels right to the corners. That wheelbase is 0.7-inches more than Mach-E, 4.3-inches more than the Tesla and 9.2-inches more than the VW.
The combination of a lower roof and slightly taller floor to accommodate the battery means that the Ioniq 5 gives up 1.7 cubic feet of passenger space and 11 cubic feet of cargo volume. A lot of the cargo space difference comes from the more forward sloped backlight compared to the more traditional SUV shape of the Tucson. Compared to its electric competition it does make better use of space with a 5.4 cubic foot advantage over the Ford and 6.6 cubic feet over the VW with Tesla opting not to publish volume numbers.
At 106.5 cubic feet of passenger space, the Ioniq 5 has plenty of room for 4 adults or three slimmer passengers in the back. This should make it a good platform for Motional’s upcoming robotaxi service while keeping the overall size more manageable for urban operations than the Chrysler Pacificas used by some other companies.
The design of the Ioniq 5 both inside and out is a new direction for Hyundai. The exterior has a chunky but handsome look that builds on the faceted design of recent models like the Elantra and Tucson but with a more closed off front thanks to the reduce cooling requirements. The cabin is generally clean and well laid out with an overall better balance of touch and physical controls than any of the EV competition and even the Tucson. Unlike the Tucson, Hyundai has decided on real knobs and switches for the audio volume and climate control. There is one exception to the superiority of the Ioniq 5, especially for an EV. The controls for the seat heaters are in the touchscreen interface rather than with physical buttons. Since an EV in cold weather can make good use of heated seats to reduce the load on the electric heating system, those controls should be more readily available, but instead they require a minimum of two taps on the screen.
Speaking of screens, the Ioniq 5 has two 12.3-inch displays, one for the instrument cluster and a center touchscreen. As usual for Hyundai, these are high quality displays that remain visible in bright sunlight and even when wearing polarized sunglasses. A so-called augmented reality heads up display is also available, but this one isn’t quite like the ones you’ll find on some other high end vehicles like the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Those HUDs have a multi-plane display that projects information like navigation prompts further down the road so it appears to be floating above the intersection while vehicle information looks like it is floating above the end of the hood.
The Hyundai AR HUD is a single plane display like those that are commonly available, but it appears to float about 25 feet in front of the driver, basically splitting the difference between the multi-plane systems. The navigation prompts do change size and try to point to where the road is, which is an improvement, but it’s not as good as the more expensive system.
The Ioniq 5 is available in three propulsion variants to start with. The base rear wheel drive, standard range model uses a 225 electric motor at the rear axle with a 58-kWh lithium battery under the floor to deliver an EPA-estimated range of 220 miles. The extended range battery bumps that range up to the maximum of 303 miles. The highest performance variant which is what we got to drive adds a 95-hp motor at the front axle for a total of 320-hp and 446 lb-ft of torque. The extra weight of the motor means that estimated range drops to a still very usable 256 miles.
While the AWD Ioniq 5 isn’t going to challenge the Mach-E GT or Model Y performance at the drag strip, there is still more than enough get up and go for all the typical use cases. On a drive from San Diego to Julian, California, the Ioniq 5 easily squirted away from corners in the twisting mountain roads and had no hesitation merging available spaces on the interstate. While we got stuck behind some significantly slower traffic through one one curving mountain stretch, as soon as we got to a section with a bit of visibility, overtaking multiple vehicles was a breeze.
Like all EVs, the Ioniq 5 is quiet in any normal driving and a minimum of road and wind noise penetrates the cabin. The ride quality was generally very good even on some rougher stretches and the body remained composed. In those aforementioned curves, the mass of the battery under the floor definitely helps to keep body roll manageable, but it’s clear this isn’t a sports car. The steering was relatively precise and reasonably well weighted but it didn’t provide huge amounts of feedback. The default mode is mild understeer which is appropriate for this market segment, but the 4,662 pound curb weight means that this is never going to feel like a Miata but it’s not supposed to.
The e-GMP platform that underpins the Ioniq 5 and Hyundai’s other upcoming EVs is surprisingly advanced for something aimed at the mainstream of the market. It’s the first relatively affordable EV with an 800V electrical architecture and silicon-carbide power electronics. Previously this type of setup was limited to the Porsche Taycan, Audi e-Tron GT and Lucid Air, all cars costing $100,000 or more.
The higher voltage setup compared to the 400V arrangement used on most other EVs allows for faster charging rates. The Ioniq 5 can charge at up to 235-kW which is enough to get the battery from 10% to 80% charge in about 18 minutes from a 350-kW charger like those found at Electrify America stations. Hyundai is bundling two years of unlimited 30 minute fast charge sessions at Electrify America with every one of its new EVs.
The Ioniq 5 comes standard with a full suite of driver assist systems including Hyundai’s highway drive assist with lane centering and machine learning for the stop and go control. The forward collision avoidance system has specific pedestrian and cyclist detection and left turn assist to automatically brake if a potential collision is detected.
The Ioniq 5 starts at $40,925 including delivery for the rear-drive standard range model and runs up to a maximum of $55,725 for the all-wheel drive Limited model with all the goodies. Unfortunately, early availability is limited to California and about 12 other states that mandate a percentage of EV sales or already have healthy demand for electrics. Hyundai hopes to ramp up supply nationally by the end of 2022. Hyundai EVs are still eligible for a full $7,500 federal tax credit plus whatever state and local incentives are offered. With the addition of the Ioniq 5, upcoming Kia EV6 and many other EVs coming soon, consumers increasingly have a choice of electric offerings in different market segments and price points and the Ioniq 5 should absolutely be on most people’s shopping list.