Car companies almost never supply a base model of a car for evaluation by an automotive writer, and who can blame them? They put their best foot forward, so to speak, to make a good impression, just like people at a Meetup.
Hyundai didn’t go that route with its 2017 Ioniq Hybrid for review. My tester was the Blue trim level, lowest in price among three available trims, with a $23,035 sticker that includes the destination charge ($835). There was only one option on the car, carpeted floor mats for $125.
The tester was plenty impressive: An affordable, great-looking compact five-door hatchback with a hybrid power system delivering a city/highway/combined fuel economy rating of 57/59/58 mpg. Doors open to a spacious interior with seating for five, a sizable rear cargo area, and 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks for optimum utility.
SEL and Limited, the two other Ioniq Hybrid trim levels, are base priced at $24,785 and $28,335 including destination charge. They have more standard features than the Blue, but the Blue beats them in fuel economy to the tune of 3 mpg. The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq is also available in plug-in hybrid and all-electric versions.
Ioniq’s attractive exterior has flashy contemporary style but with enough restraint that it doesn’t look goofy and thereby destined for a short shelf life.
Combined output of the Ioniq Hybrid’s four-cylinder engine and electric motor is 139 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and the battery is unobtrusively positioned beneath the rear passenger seats. By the way, the previously mentioned 58 mpg? It’s the highest rating of any non-plug-in vehicle sold in the U.S.
Though the Blue trim is the least expensive in the Ioniq Hybrid lineup, its interior is far from austere. Seats are sturdy and comfortable. Noise is well restrained except at high speeds, when there’s a bit of a commotion if the road hasn’t been repaved recently.
The list of standard features in the cabin is respectable, including a 7-inch touchscreen along with the basic infotainment and connectivity doodads. A nice touch is the tablet stowage slot in the center console, which perfectly held my iPad in its Belkin Chambray cover without encroaching on the cupholders, armrest or main stowage bin.
A key characteristic of the Ioniq is its use of recycled or eco-friendly materials. The interior door covers, while providing the same appearance of typical plastic-based materials, are made of plastic combined with powdered wood and volcanic stone. The softer, more natural feel is achieved along with less reliance on oil-based products. Raw materials extracted from sugar cane are partly applied on the headliner and carpet. Paint with renewable ingredients extracted from soybean oil is used to create the metallic colors on key components.
To prevent using unnecessary amounts of energy, the Ioniq climate control system can be switched to an efficient operation mode. Recirculated air is maximized during air-conditioning or heating, reducing ventilation losses and increasing the overall efficiency of the system. The fully-automatic climate control has a Driver Only mode that reduces the load of both air conditioning and heating on the overall powertrain. I don’t have exact statistics here, just random eyeballing, but I’d guess 90 percent of cars have only one person in them 90 percent of the time. Gah! Every car should have a Driver Only mode.
For those times when an Ioniq driver has passengers, there are console-mounted rear air vents for the backseat riders.
The 2017 Ioniq is a brand new model from Hyundai. Its name is a mash-up of the words “ion” and “unique.”
2017 HYUNDAI IONIQ HYBRID BLUE
Base price, including destination charge: $23,035
Price as driven: $23,160
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.