Hyundai announced that it would be building one four-door car to house three different powertrains: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all electric. All three 2017 Hyundai Ioniq models are basically identical cars but for the energy used to get the wheels moving down the road — same shape, same seats, same infotainment system.
Hyundai says that it will train dealerships that ask for training in how to sell these things, but that’s not very reassuring. As with almost any car you want to buy, you’re going to need to be the informed consumer armed with stats.
That goes double for electric cars. The Ioniq EV will only go on sale in California at first, though anyone can order it through any Hyundai dealership. That means that outside California (and often inside that state), you have to be on top of your consumer shit when you walk into the dealership. It’s not unlikely that a salesperson will try to steer you toward a car on the lot that they know better and can talk you into buying. But if it’s an EV you want, it’s an EV you shall have.
Here are your three Ioniq options:
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
This is a hybrid like just about any other, including the Prius. It’s got a four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor. It runs a little on electric power only, but not much. Usually the two are working in tandem to deliver the power you’re used to from a little commuter car with stellar fuel economy: 55 mpg in the city, 54 mpg on the highway.
This is the choice for people who want a greener car without having to change a single thing about their driving routine. You’re still going to fuel up at the gas station. Starting price is around $22,000.
Hyundai Ioniq PHEV
This is a plug-in electric hybrid, or PHEV. You charge up the batteries at an outlet, either a regular 120-volt or a 240-volt plug like the one your dryer uses. Then you can drive nearly 30 miles on that charge using electric power alone; for many people that’s a commute to work and back without using gasoline. If you’ve got errands to run or a trip to the coast this weekend, the gasoline engine kicks in and the Ioniq Blue works for all practical purposes like a hybrid, getting 57 mpg city, 59 mpg highway.
This is the one you want if range anxiety is real for you but you’re done with all gas all the time. You’ll still be stopping at the gas station, but half as often as you do in your regular car. This one’s not available until fall, so prices aren’t final as of publication.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric
If you’re ready for an all-electric car, Ioniq is ready for you. This version of the car uses no gasoline at all; you have to charge it up every night like you do your phone. It gets well over 100 miles per charge, and it has powerful regenerative braking capabilities so you can eke out a few extra miles. The Ioniq EV has DC fast charging included as standard equipment, so you can recharge a low battery to 80% in about 20 minutes.
This is the most efficient, greenest Ioniq in the lineup. It’s not a toy car; it’s a real four-door that looks nearly identical to the other two but for some badges and trim pieces. starting price is just under $30,000.—KHG