Menu

Electrified Hyundai and Kia allow eco-friendly commutes

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is an electric-only hatchback that’s efficient and fun to drive but sold only in California so far. Marylanders can still buy a hybrid or plug-in hybrid Ioniq, though. COURTESY PHOTOThe Hyundai Ioniq Electric is an electric-only hatchback that’s efficient and fun to drive but sold only in California so far. Marylanders can still buy a hybrid or plug-in hybrid Ioniq, though. COURTESY PHOTO  If you’re looking to add some electricity to your car, Korea’s Hyundai and Kia are offering a large and steadily growing lineup of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric models.
These corporate cousins collectively offer two pure electric vehicles (EVs, which have no gas engine); four plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs, which can run on electricity from the grid but also have engines); and four gas-electric hybrids that save fuel without needing to be plugged in. At least one more EV is due this fall.
The heart of this fuel-saving lineup is the Hyundai Ioniq, a compact hatchback, and its mechanical twin the Kia Niro, which blurs the line between a small station wagon and a crossover. Both are sold both as hybrids and PHEVs, and there’s also an all-electric Ioniq that’s so far sold only in California.
Recent tests of the Ioniq Electric and Niro PHEV, along with drives of both cars’ hybrid variants last year, reveal a pair of comfortable, user-friendly, affordable fuel savers. For better or for worse, they lack the strong personality of a Toyota Prius — instead, they feel like everyday economy cars even as they achieve exceptional fuel efficiency.

The 2018 Kia Niro PHEV is a small but functional commuter car that you can plug into the wall to unlock outstanding fuel savings. COURTESY PHOTOThe 2018 Kia Niro PHEV is a small but functional commuter car that you can plug into the wall to unlock outstanding fuel savings. COURTESY PHOTO  Think of the Ioniq as a cross between the Prius and a Hyundai Elantra. The aerodynamic hatchback shape is familiar to other recent hybrid models, but everything feels normal from the driver’s seat. There’s a well-finished, user-friendly dashboard. The most popular hybrid has a conventional gear selector, as does the PHEV, though the Electric model switches to a push-button system. This approach may require some extra attention, but it frees up more storage space between the front seats.
On the road, the Ioniq hybrid uses an electric motor to reduce fuel usage — delegating some of the Ioniq’s thrust away from the gas-burning engine, so the engine doesn’t have to work as hard. Sometimes it shuts off altogether, though less frequently and for less time than in the Prius. Its most popular version is rated for 55 miles per gallon in mixed driving, which edges out the Prius, though careful fuel-saving driving techniques can produce a better result in the Toyota.
Aside from the partially electric propulsion, the Ioniq hybrid feels very much like an ordinary economy car — pleasant, comfortable, unremarkable, inoffensive. It’s possible to drive it without remembering that it’s a hybrid. Prices start at $23,085.
The Ioniq Electric lends some zest to the experience. Electric motors provide their maximum torque right off the line, rather than needing to rev high and work their way through the gears of a transmission. With the Ioniq Electric, you just put your foot down and surge near-silently forward.
It’s rated for a range of 124 miles per all-electric charge, more than enough for even a long commute into D.C. with some errands on the way home — especially since electric cars can use Maryland’s HOV lanes. That range is less than a Chevrolet Bolt’s outstanding 238 miles, but the Ioniq Electric costs some $7,000 less. The base price is $30,385, but you can take a $7,500 federal tax credit. However, until Hyundai starts selling the Ioniq Electric in Maryland, interested buyers will be better served by a Volkswagen e-Golf or the newly updated Nissan Leaf.
The Kia Niro, meanwhile, is an option for Ioniq buyers who’d like to spend a little more — both at the dealership and at the pump — so they can have a little more room and a higher seating position.
In a photo, the Niro looks like any other small crossover SUV like a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, or Kia’s own Sportage. But it’s quite a bit smaller, which you’ll feel in the back seat or the cargo hold. Still, there’s more passenger and cargo space than the Ioniq, and you sit up a bit higher. The driving experience is similar, though you get even less all-electric acceleration.
Prices for the Niro hybrid start at $24,675, and its EPA fuel economy ratings range from 43 to 50 mpg, depending on the version.
The 2018 Kia Niro PHEV can travel an EPA-estimated 26 miles per charge, which can take about nine hours on a household outlet. Its gasoline engine turns on if you run out of range. COURTESY PHOTOThe 2018 Kia Niro PHEV can travel an EPA-estimated 26 miles per charge, which can take about nine hours on a household outlet. Its gasoline engine turns on if you run out of range. COURTESY PHOTO  The newly-introduced Niro PHEV improves that efficiency for almost no additional money. Its base sticker price is higher, at $29,235. But you can claim a $4,543 federal tax credit — bringing the price to $24,692, or less than $20 more than the hybrid.
In the Niro PHEV, you plug the car into the wall to achieve up to 26 miles of all-electric range before the gasoline engine turns on to help. After that point, the EPA rates it at a still-efficient 46 mpg. During a weeklong test, with most trips exceeding the all-electric range, the Niro PHEV averaged about 70 mpg.
Its gas-only average was about 50 mpg. The PHEV has a larger electric battery than the regular Niro hybrid, which meant that it had a greater capacity to recharge itself on the go — resulting in some additional all-electric propulsion.
The tested Niro PHEV returned about 24 miles per all-electric charge in mostly highway driving and up to 30 miles in slower urban conditions. A round trip from the Sentinel’s Rockville office to downtown Washington is about 30 miles, so all or most of that commute could be entirely gas-free. It can fully recharge in about nine hours using a standard 120-volt household outlet, so it’s ready to go again in the morning.
But the Niro PHEV, and its Ioniq PHEV cousin, aren’t zippy and fun like the Ioniq Electric. Their electric motor isn’t powerful enough for zippy acceleration, and if you accelerate too hard, you’ll even summon the gasoline engine. But as functional, affordable and hyper-efficient commuting tools, they’re strong options. And like the Ioniq Electric, they can use the HOV lanes. Shop them against the Toyota Prius Prime, another affordable and efficient plug-in hybrid, along with the pricier but longer-range Chevrolet Volt.

Brady Holt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association.

@BradyHoltAutos

 

If you’re looking to add some electricity to your car, Korea’s Hyundai and Kia are offering a large and steadily growing lineup of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric models.

These corporate cousins collectively offer two pure electric vehicles (EVs, which have no gas engine); four plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs, which can run on electricity from the grid but also have engines); and four gas-electric hybrids that save fuel without needing to be plugged in. At least one more EV is due this fall.

The heart of this fuel-saving lineup is the Hyundai Ioniq, a compact hatchback, and its mechanical twin the Kia Niro, which blurs the line between a small station wagon and a crossover. Both are sold both as hybrids and PHEVs, and there’s also an all-electric Ioniq that’s so far sold only in California.

Recent tests of the Ioniq Electric and Niro PHEV, along with drives of both cars’ hybrid variants last year, reveal a pair of comfortable, user-friendly, affordable fuel savers. For better or for worse, they lack the strong personality of a Toyota Prius — instead, they feel like everyday economy cars even as they achieve exceptional fuel efficiency.

Think of the Ioniq as a cross between the Prius and a Hyundai Elantra. The aerodynamic hatchback shape is familiar to other recent hybrid models, but everything feels normal from the driver’s seat. There’s a well-finished, user-friendly dashboard. The most popular hybrid has a conventional gear selector, as does the PHEV, though the Electric model switches to a push-button system. This approach may require some extra attention, but it frees up more storage space between the front seats.

On the road, the Ioniq hybrid uses an electric motor to reduce fuel usage — delegating some of the Ioniq’s thrust away from the gas-burning engine, so the engine doesn’t have to work as hard. Sometimes it shuts off altogether, though less frequently and for less time than in the Prius. Its most popular version is rated for 55 miles per gallon in mixed driving, which edges out the Prius, though careful fuel-saving driving techniques can produce a better result in the Toyota.

Aside from the partially electric propulsion, the Ioniq hybrid feels very much like an ordinary economy car — pleasant, comfortable, unremarkable, inoffensive. It’s possible to drive it without remembering that it’s a hybrid. Prices start at $23,085.

The Ioniq Electric lends some zest to the experience. Electric motors provide their maximum torque right off the line, rather than needing to rev high and work their way through the gears of a transmission. With the Ioniq Electric, you just put your foot down and surge near-silently forward.

It’s rated for a range of 124 miles per all-electric charge, more than enough for even a long commute into D.C. with some errands on the way home — especially since electric cars can use Maryland’s HOV lanes. That range is less than a Chevrolet Bolt’s outstanding 238 miles, but the Ioniq Electric costs some $7,000 less. The base price is $30,385, but you can take a $7,500 federal tax credit. However, until Hyundai starts selling the Ioniq Electric in Maryland, interested buyers will be better served by a Volkswagen e-Golf or the newly updated Nissan Leaf.

The Kia Niro, meanwhile, is an option for Ioniq buyers who’d like to spend a little more — both at the dealership and at the pump — so they can have a little more room and a higher seating position.

In a photo, the Niro looks like any other small crossover SUV like a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, or Kia’s own Sportage. But it’s quite a bit smaller, which you’ll feel in the back seat or the cargo hold. Still, there’s more passenger and cargo space than the Ioniq, and you sit up a bit higher. The driving experience is similar, though you get even less all-electric acceleration.

Prices for the Niro hybrid start at $24,675, and its EPA fuel economy ratings range from 43 to 50 mpg, depending on the version.

The newly-introduced Niro PHEV improves that efficiency for almost no additional money. Its base sticker price is higher, at $29,235. But you can claim a $4,543 federal tax credit — bringing the price to $24,692, or less than $20 more than the hybrid.

In the Niro PHEV, you plug the car into the wall to achieve up to 26 miles of all-electric range before the gasoline engine turns on to help. After that point, the EPA rates it at a still-efficient 46 mpg. During a weeklong test, with most trips exceeding the all-electric range, the Niro PHEV averaged about 70 mpg.

Its gas-only average was about 50 mpg. The PHEV has a larger electric battery than the regular Niro hybrid, which meant that it had a greater capacity to recharge itself on the go — resulting in some additional all-electric propulsion.

The tested Niro PHEV returned about 24 miles per all-electric charge in mostly highway driving and up to 30 miles in slower urban conditions. A round trip from the Sentinel’s Rockville office to downtown Washington is about 30 miles, so all or most of that commute could be entirely gas-free. It can fully recharge in about nine hours using a standard 120-volt household outlet, so it’s ready to go again in the morning.

But the Niro PHEV, and its Ioniq PHEV cousin, aren’t zippy and fun like the Ioniq Electric. Their electric motor isn’t powerful enough for zippy acceleration, and if you accelerate too hard, you’ll even summon the gasoline engine. But as functional, affordable and hyper-efficient commuting tools, they’re strong options. And like the Ioniq Electric, they can use the HOV lanes. Shop them against the Toyota Prius Prime, another affordable and efficient plug-in hybrid, along with the pricier but longer-range Chevrolet Volt.

 

Last modified on%PM, %03 %882 %2018 %20:%May
back to top