Hyundai Ionic BEV brings ‘normal’ to electric car driving experience

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Drive_Review_Ionic_BEV
Ionic is a great looking BEV performance value.

I’m not the first journalist to note the “normal” driving experience presented by Hyundai’s easy to operate and own Ionic electric. This rather handsome, upsized, compact 4 door hatchback comes to market with a measurably comfortable driver’s seat and descent driver-to-wheel seating position. The seat is where I begin our assessment of what fellow auto writers readily recognize as an up and coming electric car star in the under $40,000 segment. The bucket seat is comfortable and just form fitting enough, I’m impressed by the visual quality of ionic’s well planned, ergonomically correct interior.

Ionic when fully charged begins take off in relative silence

Dropping into Ionic’s perforated, power adjusted, electric heated driver’s seat, ( enough with the seat already) and after adjusting the steering wheel, mirrors, and seat position to my 6 foot 5-inch frame, I push the blue-glow keyless ignition button, and then electronically shift Ionic into reverse. There’s no hint of the motor to transmission engagement here, in the historical sense anyway. Ionic is no transmission or gears. It relies on the torque, and reversal, of the electric motor to regulate forward and reverse motion. At one time the ‘Blade-Runner’ era technology that Sci-Fi movies are made of, electrification of the car and the light truck is finally trending in the world’s auto industry. O.K., it doesn’t fly, yet.

Recently, our friend Ron Cogan, publisher and contributor to Green Car Journal, acknowledged 2017 as a “tipping point” for automobile electrification, as every auto manufacturer embraces the battery as the logical, sustainable future for personal conveyance. Hyundai Ionic just happens to be a finalist for Green Car of the Year. Win or lose, from where I sit, the accolade is well deserved. I head south in the 2017 Honda Clarity FCV.

Over the past several years, I’ve come to prefer electric motivation over internal combustion. That’s where that “normal” thing comes to play

Easing out of my multiple car congested rural driveway with the aid of a rather good center stack integrated color static touchscreen monitor, I marveled at the measurable torque experienced behind the wheel of Ionic. It’s instant-on, and ever-present — much like pulling the trigger on an electric torque wrench, only a bit more controlled. Ionic’s torque is impressive, ever present, and seamless. Just the day before I’d picked up our loaner Ionic on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. A city of alternative, green-driven lifestyles, Portland is the epicenter for electric cars in the Pacific Northwest. That’s where we find our nearest Tesla outlet, Honda Clarity BEV, and Chevy Bolt. Second only to bicycle commuters, seeing an electric car driving down the road here is as non-news as a Baby Boomer Hippy wearing Birkenstock sandals. Nonetheless, Ionic turns a head or two as we transition south onto Interstate 5, impressive. Speaking of Chevy Bolt EV.

 

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Ionic is good looking coming and going

After a 16 minute “quick charge” Ionic shows 83 miles of drive range remaining. I head south to Eugene, Oregon

Driving Ionic isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to experiencing battery electric.  My adventure into electric began with a golf cart converted A.H. “bug eye” Sprite last century. Back then, the only viable deep charge storage battery available was lead acid, the range was 30 miles or so, on a good weather day. Thanks to ongoing advances in battery density (charge capacity), Ionic has a stated range between charge approaching 130 miles or so. However, I had 60 miles to drive, with no participating charge network in route. Sure, I knew I’d make it to the house, but range anxiety took over my better senses, as I began to obsess about available public-access charging infrastructure.

Diving down a rather worn interstate in Ionic proved to be comfortable enough, although a bit tire tread noisy. Electric cars tend to weigh more than convention I.C. ( internal combustion) engine powered counterparts. However, the added weight and bellow seat placement of the battery module leads to a heavier car feel and lower center of gravity handling characteristic. Despite being compact, 2017 Ionic rides more like a midsize sport hatch. I found the brake feel, steering wheel feedback, and overall handling of Ionic to be rather conventional-car feeling. That’s that “normal” thing that journalist talk off when it comes to Ionic.

However, there’s a change or two I’d make to improve the Ionic experience, starting with tire rubber compounds and charge time

Don’t read me wrong. As presented, 2017 Hyundai Ionic is a measurable purchase and ownership value. Our fully optioned Ionic Electric Limited comes to market with a  total MSRP of $33,850, before federal and state tax incentives. Ionic is a well-appointed hatchback with upscale features generally found in premium cars. From the ease of personal electronics connectivity, a premium stereo system, and the best long-term warranty in the auto industry. Ionic presents great utility and comfort. As to the second row: The 40/60 split second-row seating is transformable, and comfortable, with ample leg, elbow, and headroom for 2 adults, or 3 children. Behind the second row, one discovers covered storage and a reasonable cargo space. I like the utility of this hatchback. Ionic comes with 3 charging options, home current 110 Volt AC, phase 2 – 220 Volt AC, and phase 3, public quick charge capability. Ionic’s 118 horsepower electric motor proved to be torque-worthy, and electric charge conservative. After experimenting with the drive mode and regenerative brake settings, I exceeded Ionic’s stated range, and look forward to driving the 2018 Hyundai Ionic Plus before years end.

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“In your face” Ionic good looks

As to those changes I’d make: For me, the high-energy tire compound is too road surface sensitive — resulting in a near deafening cabin noise level when transitioning on and off of rough surfaced roads and highways. There is no power or remote activated power hatch operation. While I do appreciate Hyundai’s design and build lean toward affordable purchase and lease price point, I’d like to see a dollar or two spent on the quieting of Ionic’s cabin. Electronic noise cancellation comes to mind. The downside of Ionic for some owners will be the rather lengthy house current charge time. After coaxing Ionic into recognizing my particle charging source, (this took several attempts) Ionic was on the plug for 19 hours before reaching 100%. In car talk, that’s a stated 129 miles remaining on the current battery reserve. Ionic will not allow you to drain the system down to ZERO. For me, the logical answer is to install a phase 2 charger at home. This would facilitate a full charge in 7 hours or so. No worries! By day 2, I’d come to the conclusion that 50 miles of charge reserve more than covers my daily routine. Basically, Ionic will cover my routine for 3 days or longer on a full charge.

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What is MPGe?

A factoid or two for our tech friends

*Available in hybrid, electric and “electric-plus” (arriving in late 2017) versions, the all-new Ioniq hatchback features either a 1.6-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine combined with electric motor for a net output of 139 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, or an all-electric plug-in powertrain that delivers 118 horsepower and 218 lb.-ft. Standard features include heated seats, steering wheel audio controls, satellite radio/MP3, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, keyless entry, power windows/mirrors/door locks, tire pressure monitor and backup camera. Higher trim levels offer leather seating, blind-spot monitoring with lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, wireless phone charging and bi-Xenon HID headlights with adaptive cornering system.

  • American Hyundai 2017
  • Photo attributions Parks R. McCants 2017

 

 

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