Test Drive: Hyundai Ioniq 5, An Electric Car Built for Families
An electric car that offers a whole lot more room for a whole lot less money. Get the kids, we’re going on a road trip.
This is the very best of a new breed of crossover EVs, delivering excellent power, utility, and killer design.
At $39,700, the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq SE Standard Range might seem, well, competitive with other five-passenger crossovers. Now subtract up to $7,500 in federal tax credits, and up to $2,000 or more in state credits (depending on where you live), and suddenly this is a lot closer to a $30k than a $40k machine.
And the competition? Compare the Hyundai to a Tesla Model 3, which costs a nose-bleeding $58,990 and doesn’t qualify for said credits, and you’re talking about a remarkable value, one that will be enumerated in greater detail below.
But in gross terms, it’s fast as hell, the design is very compelling, and it handles great. And oh, by the way, for interior roominess this sleek Hyundai matches or bests all of Fatherly’s favorite forthcoming or just-out EVs—such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E, VW ID.4, and Volvo XC40 Recharge.
Still, let’s back up. If you’re EV “curious” you deserve a bit of context.
The one area where Tesla still leads is with its vast charging network, which is more comprehensive than that of competitors, such as Electrify America’s, which is open to all EVs (Tesla’s is only available for their cars).
This explains why drivers with range anxiety have gobbled up everything from the Big T because there’s this sense that somehow you have to be able to drive eight hours straight, then stop and recharge on the fly. The reality? Hardly anyone does that. How come? Because for one thing, nearly every EV buyer already owns at least one gas car for longer road trips.
And that’s why, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, over 80% of EV drivers barely ever use public charging; they only charge their cars at home.
The other factor is range: It’s far greater than you might realize. With 220 miles per charge on the base model Ioniq 5 that’s more than adequate for even mega-commuters, and with the 303-mile range of Ioniq SE and SEL you could commute the loop from San Francisco to San Jose six times and back before needing a fill-up. A section below gets a bit more into the weeds on life with an Ioniq 5 and how to charge it, but the gist is that with the Hyundai or any other EV, you’re almost always charging at home, and by the way, with gas prices at five bucks a gallon, that puts the cost of fueling at or below half of what it costs to operate your petrol drinker. (Use this handy tool from the Department of Energy to compare the cost of electricity and gas for where you live and what you currently drive.)
All of which wouldn’t mean squat if this was a milquetoast ride. But it’s just the opposite. After a week of driving the Hyundai smoked even very high expectations for where EVs can go, and moved the Ioniq 5 to the top of the heap of Fatherly’s BUY ONE! list.
It’s Safe — and Comes Standard With Tip-of-the-Spear Safety Tech
While neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor NHTSA have revealed crash-test data on the Hyundai, the well-respected Euro NCAP recently gave the car its highest, five-star score, and the Ioniq 5 comes standard not only with front- and side airbags designed to cover both front and rear passengers in the event of a rollover.
As for active safety, Hyundai includes everything Fatherly looks for in evaluations: blind-spot monitoring to prevent you from merging into an occupied lane, backup assist so you don’t roll over a pedestrian behind the car or into the path of another car, and front cyclist and pedestrian detection. While you’re cruising the Interstate, advanced cruise control monitors lane following and distance, and allows stop and go functionality with less driver input.
Where We Tested
City streets, backcountry curves, and everywhere in between.
The Biggest Thing Going For the Ioniq 5
Literally, it’s huge inside. A $58,000 Tesla Model 3 has 112 cubic feet of volume; the Ioniq 5 sports a ridiculously massive 133.7 cubes, and the cockpit is both tall and wide. While that pricier Tesla can only manage 22.9 cubic feet of maximum cargo (which, we’re talking fitting a stroller if you’re lucky) the Ioniq 5 has some of the best front- and rear head, knee, and shoulder room of any vehicle in its class. That’s possible because EVs don’t have to be designed around big motors. With tiny powertrains and batteries in the floor, the Ioniq 5 sits at a sweet spot of a lowish crossover, and its wheels are pushed to the nose and derrière, giving it a massive cockpit between the tires with a wheelbase nearly matching that of a seven-passenger Chevy Tahoe.
Putting proof to statistical prowess during testing, the Ioniq 5 swallowed a mountain bike, and also two huge backpacks stuffed for a camping trip. And then that incoming call from a certain spouse demanded a grocery run, and so we stuffed in six bags of food, plus sleeves of 32 rolls of TP and an eight-pack of paper towels and still found room to spare.
The Hyundai’s nearly 60 cubic feet of storage just about matches the 63 cubes found in one of our favorite crossover SUVs, the Volvo XC60. In fact, the Ioniq 5 has more rear-seat shoulder room than the XC60, more rear-seat legroom, and has ten more cubic feet of overall interior space than that Volvo.
The Ioniq 5 comes in a few different configurations. The aforementioned standard range model has a 58 kWh battery that produces 225 horsepower via a rear-drive electric motor with 258 ft. lbs. of torque. That version goes 220 miles per charge. You can also get the same rear-wheel-drive configuration with a larger, 74 kWh battery that cranks out 320hp and 446 lb. ft. of torque. In the rear-wheel-drive model with the bigger battery, you’ll see 303 miles of range, and there’s also an all-wheel-drive version with the same output, which’ll hit 256 miles per juice. The AWD model can leap to 60mph in under five seconds, but even the base model achieves the feat in about seven seconds, yet where you really feel the muscle is when passing, because once you’re rolling the Ioniq 5 jumps ahead without hesitation. Even better: It’s a confident, ultra-quiet, taut-cornering and sporty machine. A pair of paddles halo the steering wheel to allow more or less regenerative braking, which mimics downshifting a conventional car.
This is handy to decelerate before a sharp curve or if you’re descending a steep hill, and if you like you can leave the Hyundai in its most aggressive re-gen mode and just use the “gas" to drive. Lift off the go pedal and the Ioniq 5 slows quickly, and pretty much unless you were in a panic=stop situation, just not using the accelerator would let the car naturally come to a halt. This takes about two drives to get used to, by the way, and it’s one distinct advantage to EVs that allow “one-pedal” driving.
View from the Backseat
In a rarity for a lot of cars, no matter what fuels them, the rear seats of the Ioniq 5 slide and the uprights recline, too. This is handy if you’re used to the wrestling match of fitting a child seat, since you know that sometimes the car’s seatback just won’t get out of your way to make that task less of a chore.
Hyundai also gives you rear-seat passengers sunshades, so your kid can nap in style, and dual USBs in the back eliminate the inevitable tantrum over who gets to recharge their device. And, Hyundai includes dual front USBs and both a 12V adapter up there and an extra one in the hatch. The glass roof also extends over the entire seating area, so in addition to the exceptional roominess, this Hyundai also has an airy vibe that’s hard not to like.
Life With an EV
Remember that bit up top where you learned that most folks charge their EVs at home? It’s true, but if you want to fuel the Ioniq 5 on the fly, its 800-volt system is one of the fastest on the market, allowing re-boost from 10% battery to 80% in only 18 minutes.
And, it’s also one of the first EVs designed to allow sending electrons out. A clever widget locks to the car’s charge port and on the other end, there’s a three-prong wall outlet. Presuming your Ioniq 5 is fully charged if the power goes kaput, your rig’s now a portable power station with enough wattage to keep everything cold in the fridge, run the washer and dryer, power the pixels on your TV and keep your home’s lights shining while the rest of the nabe is flying blind. Speaking of the neighbors, vs. a gas generator your fancy EV makes no sound at all, allowing your whole brood, and your ’hood, to snore through the outage.
The futuristic dashboard features two identically sized flat panel displays. One for the driver, which works as a traditional instrument cluster, and another provides a fairly straightforward readout for mapping, and whatever tunes you might be listening to on Apple’s CarPlay/Android Auto, both of which, blessedly come stock with any grade of Ioniq 5.
And as far as it goes, the fact that Hyundai at least retains hard controls for audio volume and a toggle for tuning, which prevents having to do a ton of hunting and pecking on the center screen, but as a result, the surroundings are just a hair too futuristic. Volvo, for instance, does a better job retaining tactile warmth. The Ioniq 5 isn’t even close to hitting the silicon-uber-ness of Tesla, but we wouldn’t mind a more organic vibe.
The Bottom Line
With so many EVs now coming on the market, it could be difficult to decide on the “perfect” one for your needs. But bang-for-buck-wise, it’s very hard not to be smitten with Hyundai’s formula. The roominess, great handling, fast charging, ability to use it as a portable substation, and killer, futuristic looks all make the Ioniq 5 feel like a ride that should cost $60k or more. The fact that, with tax incentives, you could get out the door at closer to half that price makes it a steal—and don’t forget it’s a vehicle that will keep saving you thousands of dollars in gasoline you never have to buy.