Purely in terms of design, I can't think of a recent EV more anticipated than the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5. The thing is simultaneously retro and futuristic and boasts a smart and roomy interior—as any well-thought-out electric car should. And despite its spacey looks, the Ioniq 5 delivers perfectly on the promise of driveability and practicality. If you're in the market for an EV, this is one to keep an eye on.
Now that the novelty of electric cars has largely worn off, the next wave of buyers to appeal to aren't the pioneers who are willing to sacrifice function over form. These are the buyers who want an ordinary car that just so happens to be electric. Bonus points if said electric car does certain things better than an ICE car can—like offer them a more usable cabin.
The Ioniq 5, a low-slung SUV, represents a big first. It is the first of Hyundai's new electric sub-brand to be built on the automaker's all-new, dedicated battery-electric E-GMP vehicle platform (just like Volkswagen and its MEB platform) which supports both 400- and 800-volt charging infrastructures. Following it will be more than 20 upcoming models over the next five years, including the Ioniq 6 sedan and Ioniq 7 SUV. Do the Ioniq cars basically share a name with the Sharper Image's brand of air purifiers? Maybe. Does it matter? No. Do I think about it every time I type it out or think about it? Certainly!
A 77.4-kWh battery is offered across all Ioniq 5 models and you can get them in either the single-motor, rear-wheel-drive setup or the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup. And for any motor configuration, you can also option it with one of three available trims: SE, SEL, and Limited. Save for the 220-mile, rear-wheel-drive-only SE Standard Range Ioniq 5, your two options are the 225-horsepower single-motor Ioniq 5, which has a claimed range of 303 miles, or the 320-hp dual-motor Ioniq 5, which has a claimed 256 miles of range. As my colleague Chris Tsui noted, you can get either 320 hp or 300 miles of range, but not both.
But what I'd like to call out specifically is the Ioniq 5's design—both exterior and interior.
The first thing you should know about the Ioniq 5 is that it is large. In photos, it looks like maybe something the size of a Volkswagen Golf, as it is very Lancia Delta Integrale-looking in profile. In person, it's quite big. As 100percentjake observed on Twitter, it still has the proportions of a hatchback, just increased by 130 percent. Additionally—and this shocked me when I found out—the Ioniq 5 has a longer wheelbase than the Hyundai Palisade; the former has a 118.1-inch wheelbase and the latter has a 114.2-inch wheelbase. The Ioniq 5 has the longest wheelbase of any Hyundai sold in North America, a rep confirmed. Also, it has a clamshell hood.
Unlike other EVs that make use of rounded body panels, the Ioniq 5 has a distinctly sculpted look, with tons of flat planes and acute angles combined to create a very pointed aesthetic. It is also one of the few cars that's better observed at night, as its light game is unparalleled. Making use of the same pixel motif seen on the Hyundai Staria, the car's headlights and taillight have a depth to them, which gives them a very cool 3D effect. Nighttime is also when you get to see the illuminated light beam underneath the headlights, which is otherwise invisible during the day.
Inside, things are airy and spacious—thanks in part to the panoramic glass roof the test car came with. A hoodless, driver information cluster and infotainment setup (both featuring 12-inch screens) provide a clear picture, even during the sunniest part of the day. And because of its skateboard design, the Ioniq 5 has a totally flat floor, which meant not one but two (!) spots where I could store my purse. Y'all, I have been waiting for this since Lexus stopped making the first-gen RX300.
That flat floor also makes it possible to scoot across the front row, which of course begs the question as to when Hyundai will offer an Ioniq 5 with a bench-seat option. Regardless, it's handy for when you park too close to something or if you're trying to escape a hunger-crazed velociraptor.
Rear passengers are treated to decent legroom and the trunk, also with a flat floor, is nice and deep. This is a vehicle that will more than comfortably accommodate a family of four adults.
And! The Ioniq 5 has a front trunk. It's nothing like a Tesla or Ford Mustang Mach-E's front trunk, as this one only amounts to 0.85 cubic feet of volume. But the question I asked the Hyundai reps was whether the car had a front trunk, not how useful it is. I'll leave that second part up to you.
During the media preview event, Hyundai sent me out with the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Ioniq 5, so needless to say, it accelerated powerfully and silently. Just like all dual-motor EVs. And although big while stationary, driving the Ioniq 5 made it feel as though it shrank back into that petite hatchback size it already wears in photos. That sensation was doubtlessly helped along by the car's very low center of gravity. The drive route Hyundai selected was full of tight twists and turns and the Ioniq 5 handled them all with a good attitude. There's some body roll, but it's definitely not as prevalent as with some of the other, more lifted ICE-powered SUVs I've driven. Overall, the car feels extremely planted and I never once felt as though it was too big or I was going too fast on those roads to be out of control.
In regular comfort mode, the steering was well-weighted, a personal surprise for me since I couldn't ever say the same for other, non-performance Hyundai products. Putting the car in sport mode only made the steering heavier and more reactive to inputs, a welcome result. It was a nice improvement over the Polestar 2's steering, which is numb and quite incommunicative. Sport mode also sharpens up pedal response quite a bit, so that instant torque becomes even more instant. Ride quality remained consistent regardless of driving mode—a comfortable and cushy suspension setup that rewards highway camping. Forward visibility was great on account that the seat scooted up nice and high, but rearward visibility wasn't as ideal because of the car's thick C-pillar.
Hyundai said it paid special attention to improving the car's NVH—there's even anti-resonance foam in the tires—and indeed, the ride was very quiet. I didn't hear much additional noise coming from the tires, though the sound of the wind rushing over the body couldn't be hidden away entirely.
One of the Ioniq 5's biggest perks is its fast-charging ability. Teslas and the Supercharger network aside, the Ioniq 5 boasts an 18-minute charge time from 10 percent battery to 80 percent when plugged into a 350-kW DC fast-charger. (Just note that the car is limited to 250 kW so you don't need 350 kW.) Ford estimates 45 minutes for the same battery percentages when using a DC fast-charger for the Mustang Mach-E. Volkswagen estimates 38 minutes when the ID.4's battery is at five percent to get to 80 percent at a DC fast-charger.
During a practical demonstration, a Hyundai rep plugged in a car that was at eight percent battery into a 350-kW charger. The display showed that it would take 18 minutes for it to reach 80 percent battery capacity and 31 minutes to reach 90 percent capacity. Given that 18 minutes is about the amount of time I spend at a gas station to use the bathroom and pick out a snack, this is a charge time I accept. The trick is finding an available and working DC fast-charging plug.
Gripes? For one, I found the gear selector unintuitive. To maintain the lack of a center console, Ioniq 5 uses a column-mounted gear lever. However, you don't pull on it as you would with other column-mounted shifters. Here, you twist the end like it's a Bop-It toy (did I just hideously date myself?). Twist away to put it in drive. Twist toward yourself to put it in reverse. Push the end in to put it in park. Doubtlessly, anyone who spends more than a day in this car will get the hang of it, but it's just something to be aware of.
A more anticipated longstanding issue is with the climate controls. These are located beneath the volume knob and map/navigation/media buttons, but instead of also being physical buttons, these were relegated to a touchscreen with no haptic feedback, which would have improved the situation. Not knowing where my fingers were landing and whether I was making my desired chances, I was forced to take my eyes off the road to be sure. Not ideal!
But these are two small complaints gleaned after about three hours of driving. They are but small flaws in what is otherwise a highly capable EV.
My colleague Rob Stumpf wrote up a comprehensive trim, range, and pricing story for the Ioniq 5, but know that the cheapest Ioniq 5 you can get is the standard-range version with the single-motor setup that is good for 220 miles of range and starts at $40,925. Top-tier Limited AWD models come with a suite of ADAS tech (including forward collision-avoidance assist, high-beam assist, front and rear parking sensors, and blind-spot collision-avoidance assist), 20-inch alloy wheels, front LED accent lighting, leatherette-trimmed heated seats, a memory eight-way powered driver's seat, the sliding center console, a head-up display, and smart cruise control. MSRP comes to $55,725. The only option the test car came with were carpeted floor mats for $195; total MSRP came to $55,920.
The Ioniq 5 can count the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4, Tesla Model 3, and Tesla Model Y among its competitors. It already has the Ford and VW beat in terms of fast-charge time, though the Teslas come out slightly higher with their longer ranges. And seeing as all of them are priced relatively similarly, the Ioniq 5 has a slight advantage in the highly subjective areas of design and interior setup.
As for sustainability, the fact that the Ioniq 5 emits not a sigh of carbon dioxide is great. But its interior has also been thoughtfully crafted. For example, it uses something Hyundai calls "eco-processed leather" on the seats that have been treated and dyed with flaxseed oil extractions. Poly yarn, wool, and recycled PET bottle fibers make up other cabin materials. And things like the steering wheel, door panels, switches, and dashboard wear coats of "polyurethane bio paint" that's made of oils from rapeseed flowers and corn.
I found the test car's price of $56,000 a bit steep, but the good news is if you want either 303 miles of range or 320 hp, you don't have to opt for the Limited trim. The Ioniq 5 SE also offers the same hardware—and therefore the same stats—and it starts at a more reasonable $44,875 and $48,375, respectively. It still isn't cheap (which big EVs are?), but you are admittedly getting a lot of car for the money. It also has one of the nicest and most functional interiors I've come across.
Comprehensively, the Ioniq 5's most appealing aspect is how normal it is. It comes with a keyfob (though a smart-phone based digital key is an option). It has an "engine" start/stop button. It's powerful but it won't rip your face off—in all-wheel-drive guise at least. It charges quickly. It's got tons of room. It's comfortable. It's easy to drive.
But for me? I loved how driving something that looks this cool made me feel. True, I don't really benefit from the Ioniq 5's exterior design while behind the wheel. But every time I parked it, I caught myself looking back at it. And while I was driving it, I just felt good about sitting in it. It brightened up my day. Doubly so when a couple came up to me to say how much they liked the way it looked, too. That feeling is difficult to put a price on, but when it's there, you can't ignore it. More of this, please.
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