When it comes to electric vehicles, one of the most overlooked and underrated automakers is Hyundai Motor Group and its three brands, Hyundai, Kia and Genesis. Across the group, we’ll soon see a lineup of nearly two dozen EVs, all with surprisingly advanced technology. The first to hit the market is the 2022 Ioniq 5 which is expected to hit customers within the next couple of weeks and which we recently had the chance to drive.
Hyundai has owned a car called Ioniq since 2016, which was marketed as the brand’s first electrified model. It was a five-door sedan with almost identical dimensions and profile to a Toyota Prius and clearly aimed at the pioneer of the hybrid. It is 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 electric vehicle, it had limited space for a battery, so Hyundai focused more on efficiency than range. This Ioniq came out with 127 miles of range which was later upgraded to 170 miles.
The name Ioniq now changes from a single car to an electric sub-brand for Hyundai with several models. The Ioniq 5 is a compact crossover with a footprint slightly smaller than the Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E and slightly larger than VW’s ID.4. Next year the Ioniq 6 will arrive as a mid-size sedan and in 2023 the Ioniq 7 will be a 3-row SUV.
At 182.5 inches long, the Ioniq 5 is almost equal to the 2021 Tucson despite being 1 inch wider and 2.6 inches lower. It also has 1.0-2.2 inches lower ground clearance than the front and all-wheel-drive versions of the Tucson, so it’s clearly a vehicle for the streets rather than the trails. The biggest difference is the Ioniq’s additional 9.6-inch wheelbase. Looking at it from the side, it’s clear that Hyundai designers took advantage of the compact size of the engines to push the wheels into the bends. This wheelbase is 0.7 inches longer than Mach-E, 4.3 inches longer than the Tesla, and 9.2 inches longer than the VW.
The combination of a lower roof and a slightly higher floor to accommodate the battery means the Ioniq 5 offers 1.7 cubic feet of passenger space and 11 cubic feet of cargo space. Much of the cargo space difference comes from the more forward-sloping backlighting compared to the Tucson’s more traditional SUV shape. Compared to its electric competition, it makes better use of space with an advantage of 5.4 cubic feet over the Ford and 6.6 cubic feet over the VW, with Tesla choosing not to release volume figures. .
With 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 enclosed front thanks to reduced cooling requirements. The cabin is generally clean and well appointed with a better overall balance of touch and physical controls than any of the EV competitors and even the Tucson. Unlike the Tucson, Hyundai opted for real buttons and switches for audio volume and air conditioning. There is one exception to the superiority of the Ioniq 5, especially for an EV. Heated seat controls are in the touchscreen interface rather than physical buttons. Since an EV in cold weather can make good use of heated seats to reduce the load on the electric heating system, these controls should be more easily accessible, but instead require a minimum of two screen taps.
Speaking of displays, the Ioniq 5 has two 12.3-inch displays, one for the instrument cluster and a center touchscreen. As usual with Hyundai, these are high-quality screens that remain visible in direct sunlight and even with polarized sunglasses. An augmented reality head-up display is also available, but this isn’t quite like the ones you’ll find on other high-end vehicles like the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class. These HUDs have a multi-panel display. which projects information such as navigation prompts farther down the road, so that they appear to float above the intersection while vehicle information appears to float above the hood end.
The Hyundai AR HUD is a single-plane display like those commonly available, but it appears to float about 25 feet in front of the driver, essentially dividing the difference between multi-plane systems. The navigation prompts change size and try to point where the road is, which is an improvement, but not as good as the more expensive system.
The Ioniq 5 comes in three propulsion variants to start with. The base, rear-wheel-drive, standard-range model uses a 225 electric motor on 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 travels up to a maximum of 303 miles. The most capable variant we were able to drive adds a 95 horsepower motor to the front axle for a total of 320 horsepower and 446 lb-ft of torque. The extra engine weight means the estimated range drops to a still very usable 256 miles.
While the AWD Ioniq 5 doesn’t challenge the Mach-E GT or Model Y’s performance on the drag strip, there’s still more than enough to get up and go for all typical use cases. On a drive from San Diego to Julian, Calif., The Ioniq 5 easily pulled away from the bends of winding mountain roads and didn’t hesitate to merge the available spaces on the freeway. While we were stuck behind much slower traffic on a twisty stretch of mountain, as soon as we got to a section with some visibility, passing several vehicles was a cinch.
Like all electric vehicles, the Ioniq 5 is quiet in normal driving and minimal road and wind noise enters the cabin. The ride quality was generally very good even on some more difficult sections and the body remained calm. In those aforementioned curves, the mass of the battery under the floor certainly helps keep body roll manageable, but it’s clear this isn’t a sports car. The management was relatively precise and reasonably well-weighted, but they didn’t provide huge amounts of feedback. The default mode is light understeer which suits this segment of the market, but the curb weight of 4,662 pounds means it’ll never look like a Miata, but it’s not meant to.
The e-GMP platform that underpins the Ioniq 5 and other upcoming electric vehicles from Hyundai is surprisingly advanced for something aimed at the mainstream market. It is the first relatively affordable EV with an 800 V 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, with all cars costing $ 100,000 or more.
The higher voltage configuration compared to the 400V configuration used on most other EVs allows for faster charge rates. The Ioniq 5 can charge up to 235 kW, which is enough to boost the battery from 10% to 80% in about 18 minutes from a 350 kW charger like those found in stations Electrify America. Hyundai is bundling two years of unlimited 30-minute fast-charging sessions at Electrify America with each of its new electric vehicles.
The Ioniq 5 comes standard with a full suite of driver assistance systems, including Hyundai’s highway assist with lane centering and automatic learning for stop and start control. The front collision avoidance system has specific pedestrian and cyclist detection and left turn assistance to automatically brake if a potential collision is detected.
The Ioniq 5 starts at $ 40,925 including delivery for the standard range rear-wheel drive model and can go up to $ 55,725 for the all-wheel-drive Limited model with all the perks. Unfortunately, anticipated availability is limited to California and about 12 other states that have a percentage of EV sales or that already have high demand for electricity. Hyundai hopes to increase supply nationwide by the end of 2022. Hyundai electric vehicles are still eligible for a full federal tax credit of $ 7,500, along with all proposed state and local incentives. With the addition of the Ioniq 5, the upcoming Kia EV6, and many other upcoming electric vehicles, consumers increasingly have a choice of electric offerings in different market segments and price points and the Ioniq 5 should definitely be on most people’s shopping list.