While battery-electric vehicles still make up just a small fraction of the U.S. market, demand has been growing rapidly this year, and 2022 could see things really accelerate as the number of long-range BEVs available to American motorists quadruples.
Expect to see new offerings in just about every market segment and carrying a wide range of brand names. Among the most eagerly awaited new models is Hyundai’s Ioniq 5, the South Korean carmaker’s first entry into an entirely new sub-brand it plans to flesh out with an assortment of other products in the next several years.
The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 marks the automaker’s second entry into the long-range battery-car space, following the Kona EV. But Ioniq is the first to ride on a unique platform that eventually will underpin an array of products for not only Hyundai but also its sibling brands Kia and Genesis.
With a starting price of just $39,700 — before factoring in delivery fees and federal tax credits — the Ioniq 5 will be one of the most affordable offerings in the compact battery-electric segment.
But the crossover has plenty of other things going for it: an appealing design, plenty of room, lots of high-tech features, solid performance and range of more than 300 miles, depending upon the battery pack the buyer chooses. It also is one of the fastest charging BEVs available, a real plus for those who expect to travel long distances away from a home charger.
That, at least, was what things looked like on paper. But to find out for myself, I headed out to San Diego earlier this month, braving some unexpectedly stormy weather to put the new Ioniq 5 through its paces.
The Ioniq 5 underscores the dramatic differences we’ll be seeing with the new BEVs coming to market. The dimensions are quite revealing, the new SUV having a wheelbase of 118.1 inches — about four inches longer than the three-row Palisade, the biggest vehicle in Hyundai’s U.S. line-up. Yet, the new battery crossover has an overall length roughly matching that of the much smaller Tucson.
That’s because of the layout of the underlying E-GMP platform. The skateboard-like architecture allows batteries and motors to be moved below the load floor and the wheels to be pushed out to the corners.
The overall shape of the Ioniq 5 doesn’t readily fall into any traditional category, the battery-car looking more like a blend of crossover and hatchback. The angular exterior features Hyundai’s first clamshell hood, with a V-shaped bumper topped by distinctive “Parametric Pixel” lighting.
The modest-sized hood is more sculpted than existing Hyundai SUVs, while the door panels pick up on the distinctively creased look that first appeared on the latest-generation Tucson.
Aerodynamics play a critical role in BEV design, having a significant impact on range. And that’s apparent with Ioniq 5, both with the vestigial grille and other wind-cheating details like pop-out door handles and the spoiler integrated into the roof.
There are a number of benefits to using a skateboard-style architecture like the E-GMP. Among other things, it let the Ioniq 5 product development team repurpose some of the space normally reserved for an engine compartment, resulting in a markedly bigger cabin.
Thomas Schemera, the Korean carmaker’s product czar refers to the cabin as a “movable living room.” It’s a flexible one, as well. With no transmission tunnel, the crossover has a completely flat floor, permitting the “universal island” center console to be mounted low — and to be able to slide forward and back. There is notably more legroom in the Ioniq 5 than in Tucson. Another plus: both rows of seats also recline.
Twin wide-screen monitors stretch out across the instrument panel, one replacing traditional analog gauges, the other not only serves as the Ioniq 5’s infotainment center but also replaces virtually all traditional knobs and switches. An optional, augmented reality head-up display system will be offer, as will Hyundai’s semi-autonomous driver assistance system.
The new crossover should also appeal to green-minded buyers thanks to its focus on using environmentally friendly materials. That includes recycled plastics for the armrests and seats, and bio-sourced polyurethane.
Ioniq 5 is available in three trim levels but each of those offers a range of powertrain alternatives.
The base car gets a single, rear-mounted motor producing 218 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque — enough to launch from 0 to 100 km (0-62 mph) in 7.4 seconds. A twin-motor, all-wheel-drive package bumps that to 320 hp and 446 lb-ft and cuts launch times to 5.2 seconds.
Two battery packs will be available, one at 58 kilowatt-hours, the other at 77.4 kWh. Range varies, depending upon which drive option you choose but, at the low end, you can expect to get around 220 miles per charge. That climbs to a max 303 miles with the larger pack and single motor. The top-trim Ioniq 5 Limited I drove, with its twin-motor configuration, was EPA-rated at 256 miles per charge.
In practical use, BEV range can vary substantially, much like a gas-powered model. A lead foot will quickly eat into range, but hyper-milers could do a bit better than EPA’s testers. One key differentiator is weather. Gas-powered vehicles use waste heat from the engine to warm the passenger compartment. With an electric vehicle, much of the heat must come from the battery and studies by the likes of AAA have found you can lose as much as 40% of your capacity if you turn the cabin heater up high.
Safety and Technology
As for charging, one real plus for the Ioniq 5 is its ability to plug into the latest high-voltage public quick chargers and go from a 10% to 80% “state-of-charge” in as little as 18 minutes. A key reason is Hyundai’s decision to go with an 800-volt electrical system, rather than the 400-volt technology found in most of today’s vehicles. If you’re using a home 240-volt Level 2 charger, expect to spend around eight hours to power up a fully drained pack.
The wide-format, twin video screens give the interior of the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 a very high-tech appearance. The digital gauge cluster is easy to adjust to and one feature of note is the BEV equivalent of a gas model’s fuel consumption gauge. Here, it shows how many miles you get per kilowatt-hour of battery.
The center-mounted touchscreen is, on the whole, well executed, with a graphic interface that is generally easy to pick up on quite quickly. That said, I have a gripe. The Ioniq uses a separate, smartphone-style touchpad to operate key climate control functions. Strangely, that doesn’t include the steering wheel and seat heaters. You have to go through several steps to control them on the main touchscreen.
The good news is that the Hyundai BEV will soon be able to receive over-the-air updates which could correct such problems.
The SUV features both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, of course, and you can access and control a number of vehicle functions — like checking battery status or starting the charging process — not only through the Hyundai BlueLink app but also through the Alexa and Google Home voice assistants.
Add to the tech list a broad array of advanced driver assistance systems, including the usual suspects like forward collision warning with auto braking and blind spot detection. Top-trim models add features like the ability to prevent you from turning into oncoming traffic at an intersection. The smart cruise control system, meanwhile, learns your driving style and adapts to it. And the head-up display adds augmented reality features to make it easier, for one thing, to see precisely where a turn is coming up while using onboard navigation.
If you haven’t driven one of the latest battery-electric vehicles, you could be in for a pleasant surprise. One reason is the tremendous, tire-spinning torque electric motors produce the moment they start turning. Consider that the twin-motor version of the Ioniq 5 produces not just 320 hp but a full 446 lb-ft of torque.
The car’s launch feel is impressive, at least with the all-wheel-drive package hitting 60 in just over 5 seconds. I didn’t get to drive the single-motor package but it’s rated to hit the mark in a little more than 7 seconds. Meanwhile, with a single-speed transmission, there’s no herk or jerk as you run up to highway speeds. And power continued to come on strong even on steep hills and when making high-speed freeway passes.
Out on the winding back roads heading up to the tourist haven of Julian, one feature particularly stood out: the Ioniq’s one-pedal drive. Basically, this is something like what you’d experience shifting a manual transmission down several gears, allowing you to speed up and slow down simply by flexing your right foot — though with an EV like Ioniq you can come to a complete stop, as well, without moving to the brake pedal.
Note that this is not unique to the Hyundai SUV. In fact, it was one of the features that EV owners said they love the most, according to the recent J.D. Power Technology Experience Index.
The driving experience was further enhanced by the low center of gravity afforded by the skateboard platform I keep referring to. Despite the BEV’s obvious heft, it proved surprisingly nimble maneuvering through the mountains outside San Diego. And the Limited model’s all-wheel-drive made for confident driving on drenched pavement.
There’s no question you’ll pay a premium up front for a battery-electric vehicle, though you’ll quickly start recouping some of your costs if you charge at home — and especially if you sign up for one of the off-peak rate programs many utilities offer.
The price gap is obvious if you compare the Ioniq 5 to the nearest product in the Hyundai line-up, the base Tucson SE starting at just over $26,000 — before adding $1,225 in delivery fees. But it comes with far less features than even the entry-level Ioniq at $39,700. The Ioniq 5 SE climbs as high as $47,150 with the long-range battery-pack and twin-motor driveline. At the top end, a Ioniq 5 Limited comes in at $50,600 with a single motor and $54,500 with the twin — the Limited available only with the long-range pack. Remember, however, that you likely qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit.
By comparison, the VW ID.4, perhaps the most direct competitor to the new Hyundai EV, starts at $39,995 in single-motor configuration. The smaller, decidedly less sporty and less well-equipped Chevrolet Bolt EUV has a base price of $33,000. And Hyundai’s own Kona EV recently dropped to $34,000 — but that’s for the old model soon to be replaced.
The obvious question is how Ioniq compares to the Tesla Model Y. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison, unless you focus on the Ioniq 5 Limited. That’s because Hyundai dropped the standard-range battery pack and now is available only with a dual-motor drive and a pack rated at 318 miles range. It starts at $60,190.
Price isn’t everything, of course. One has to consider things like design, features, range, charging speed and the somewhat ephemeral “fun-to-drive” factor. On all of these, the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 scores well, if not at the top, among mainstream BEV crossovers. And that, I am betting, will help the Korean carmaker not only win over current EV owners looking to trade in but also attract the growing number of those starting to wonder if they should make a battery-electric vehicle part of their future. For many, the answer will be “yes,” with the new Ioniq 5.