2019 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Limited — Race Organizer Review

An EV commuter with good range and good manners.

Charging from a household 120VAC outlet takes a long, long time, close to 24 hours from zero to full.

Passengers over about 5′ 9″ (or with long legs) won’t like the back seats.

Since most of my close relatives and 24 Hours of Lemons Global Conspiratorial Headquarters live in the East Bay, I make frequent visits to Northern California from my Denver base of operations. While there, I will meet with my fellow Race Organizers, do family stuff and visit the excellent local wrecking yards to document the demise of interesting vehicles. Since the area is about the most EV-friendly place in North America, I like to try out electric (or fuel-cell) machinery. Here’s how the Hyundai Ioniq Electric Limited fared in the sort-of-real-world adventures faced by your Race Organizer.

I wasn’t working a race this trip, so I didn’t challenge the Ioniq Electric’s trunk space very hard.

Since I pick up cars like this at the airport, the first thing I notice will be the trunk space. When I’m working a race, I’ll haul giant bags full of cameras, walkie-talkies, clothing for all weather and so on, and a trunk that fits everything gets the Judge Phil Seal of Approval. This time, I just had ordinary civilian levels of crap, so everything fit easily. Still, I could see that the presence of big batteries did not result in a hilariously useless space for cargo.

Thanks to stop-and-go Bay Area highway traffic, I always have plenty of opportunities to shoot photos like this from a complete stop.

The second thing I noticed, after hitting the road, was that the arrangement of inside rear-view mirror and rear glass resulted in a cut-off view behind the car. I lowered the seat as far as it would go and still couldn’t get a non-frustrating view behind me (and I’m not quite 5′ 8″ tall— if you’re tall, I suspect you’ll be looking at bumpers only). I got used to relying on the side mirrors, but it was a bit maddening at first.

Plenty of range for ordinary commutes.

That’s about the extent of my complaints about this car, which would make a very nice electric commuter machine. The Range-O-Meter proved very accurate, and you can burn rubber with all that electric torque (provided you put the car in Sport mode and turn off the traction control, which responsible green citizens probably won’t do). The instant torque also means you’ll win most stoplight races to the lane you want.

I prefer the wild interior of the Fiat 500e, because I’m really 12 years old at heart, but this one should last longer.

This isn’t what you’d call an exciting car, but it will let you feel green (and be green, if your electricity comes from non-coal sources) and drive in the all-important HOV lanes in brutally overcrowded California urban freeways. The interior seems to be made of the sort of stuff that will last for decades while not punishing occupants with hard plastic edges and grime-enhancing industro-cloth. I still find it amazing that Hyundai took only about a decade to go from the execrably bad early Excel (which I still think was worse than the Yugo) to competing straight-up with the toughest Japanese carmakers in the build-quality department.

I think the Hyundai logo should be bigger. And it should spin.

Externally, the Ioniq Electric comes straight from the late-2010s EV playbook: wind-tunnel-mandated shape, distinctive “grille” to advertise its electron-fueled nature. Maybe next decade, we’ll get lightning bolts and holograms of whirling electron shells on our EVs. For now, the Ioniq Electric blends right in.

Yes, that’s a genuine, numbers-matching OZ Rally Lancer!

To give you an idea of the size of the Ioniq Electric, I photographed it near my favorite East Bay burrito joint while parked next to a Mitsubishi Lancer OZ Rally Edition. As you can see, the Ioniq packs a bit more bulk than the iconic sporty-commuter Mitsu.

Charging from a 120VAC household outlet takes quite a while.

While the Ioniq Electric can be charged fully using a regular 120-volt household power outlet, I found that the process takes too long to be useful for a daily commuter (unless, of course, the commute is very short). I saw a predicted 21 hours of charging needed when the battery sat at 18% charge.

Now that you can pay for EV charging with an ordinary credit card, life is easier for EV drivers.

Most owners of these cars will install a 240-volt charger at home, of course, so slow 120V charging shouldn’t be a problem for daily drivers of the Ioniq Electric. I ended up stopping at an EVgo station and copping a full charge in about 15 minutes.

My phone name contains very obscure Neal Stephenson references.

In the real-world department, one thing I really liked about this car was the hassle- and glitch-free electronics. The USB jacks will keep up with the power draw of a modern smartphone (the USB jacks in a surprising number of new cars still can’t do that), the voice recognition features work nearly perfectly, and the Bluetooth connectivity stayed trouble-free the entire time I had the car. When you have to live with a car every day, being able to, say, make a hands-free phone call without fighting a janky interface for 20 minutes is a big plus.

Drive solo in the HOV lane. Charge it with your solar panels.


BASE PRICE: $36,315


POWERTRAIN: 360V electric motor, single-speed reduction gear, front-wheel-drive

Output: 118 hp (88 kW), 218 lb-ft

CURB WEIGHT: 3,285 lbs

FUEL ECONOMY: 122 MPGe highway, 150 MPGe city, 136 MPGe combined

PROS: Drives well, good torque, excellent electronics interface

CONS: Poor view from inside mirror if you’re over 5′ 5″ tall, cramped back seat

Now that I have a few kilowatts’ worth of solar panels on the roof of my house, I’m taking a more serious look at an EV for my own use. The Ioniq Electric drives like a real car and has real range, leaving me more options for ill-advised silly cars to play with when I don’t have to be efficient or punctual.

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