Let's hear it for the electric vehicle pioneers---the folks who, over the past decade or three, have endured limits to distance, inconveniences like long and frequent layovers solely for the purpose of recharging and cars with panel gaps you could hide small pets inside. We can take it from here.
In the past two years, we've seen a steady trickle of EVs from companies that know how to make a quality car that just happens to be electric, with space for five people, 250 miles or more of range per charge, and the ability to recharge quickly. Trickles being trickles and erosion doing what erosion does, the dam has burst. We now have the Hyundai IONIQ 5.
You may not have seen one in person yet. As of this writing, Hyundai is only selling them in 26 states. More will follow. What you need to know first is that, although this looks like someone laid a sheet of tracing paper over a Volkswagen Golf GTI...
...the IONIQ 5 is a lot bigger than a Golf.
That's not something I fully realized until we visited friends in San Carlos and parked behind their neighbor's 2013 Cadillac ATS on the street. The IONIQ 5 dwarfed the Caddy. That's because the IONIQ 5 is an SUV, not a compact. For comparison:
Tesla Model Y: 187 inches long, 76 inches wide, 64 inches high, 113.8 inch wheelbase.
Mustang Mach-E: 186 inches long, 74 inches wide, 64 inches high, 117.5 inch wheelbase.
Hyundai IONIQ 5: 183 inches long, 74 inches wide, 63 inches high, 118.1 inch wheelbase.
Volkswagen ID.4: 181 inches long, 73 inches wide, 65 inches high, 108.9 inch wheelbase.
And I'm sure there's someone out there who doesn't like the IONIQ 5's styling, but I haven't met them yet. The shapes, the origami-like creases, the pixel-like theme of the taillights, those wheels---instant conversation starter.
If the IONIQ 5 has a downside compared to competitors, it's cargo space. With the rear seats up, it's 27.2 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded flat, it's 60.2. And that pales to the Model Y's 34.3/76.2, the Mach-E's 34.4/64.4 and even the ID.4's 30.3/64.2.
But rear seat passengers will be more comfortable in the IONIQ5 than in all but the Tesla. The Hyundai offers 39.4 inches of rear legroom while the Ford does 38.1 and the VW manages just 37.6. Tesla leads with 40.5.
And the tall greenhouses of the IONIQ 5 and the Model Y pay off in rear seat headroom as well. Tesla wins again with 39.4, followed closely by the Hyundai at 38.7. The Ford is at 38.3 and the VW 37.9.
The upright roof and slim A-pillars give the IONIQ 5 tremendous visibility, as does the dashboard design, which keeps the instrument cluster and the infotainment screen low for maximum forward visibility. It also helps the IONIQ 5 "drive small". It doesn't feel anywhere near its size. It seems light (no small feat for a 4,400-pound vehicle), handles crisply and rides smoothly.
The impression of light and air are enhanced on the Limited AWD by a standard panoramic fixed-glass sunroof (the sunshade rolls toward the front, stowing above the driver, not wasting an inch of what could be glass).
And unlike other EVs, Hyundai hasn't felt the need to re-invent the wheel on basic controls. The infotainment screen is standard-issue Hyundai---the HVAC controls are separate and easily accessed.
Only the gear shift---the lower of the two silver knobs shown above---is gimmicky---twist forward for "Drive", backward for "Reverse", and push the button with the "P" in the center for "Park". I've seen worse, but I'm also really over needing to remember how to select a gear depending on which vehicle I'm driving.
Under the hood, a spot-on impression of an engine cover...
...that's actually the lid for a front storage compartment where the 110-volt home charger is stashed. And should stay. Good to have for an emergency, but in a second, we're going to talk about DC fast charging.
Our tester is the IONIQ 5 Limited AWD. In AWD models of the IONIQ 5, twin electric motors put out a total of 320 horsepower, and 446 pounds per foot of torque, driving all four wheels. Range is 250 miles between charges. In rear-wheel drive models, power falls to 225 horsepower with 258 pounds per foot of torque, but range between charge jumps to 300 miles.
The AWD models are fast. Edmunds did 0-60 runs in the IONIQ 5, the Tesla Model Y, the mechanically-similar but differently-styled Kia EV6, the Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium Extended Range and the Volkswagen ID.4 Pro and the IONIQ 5 was quickest at 4.7 seconds, tying the Kia, beating the Tesla by a tenth, the Mach-E by half a second and the ID.4 by a full second. The IONIQ 5 will do the quarter-mile in 13.3 seconds at 100 miles per hour. Those are 1960s muscle car numbers. Okay, yes, there is a Mustang Mach-E that will get to 60 from a standing start in 3.5 seconds---the GT Performance Edition I reviewed in January. And it offers 260 miles of range to the IONIQ 5 Limited AWD's 250. Theoretically. Even babying the Mach-E GT Performance, I consistently lost real-world range compared to what the car itself predicted after a charge.
In the IONIQ5 Limited AWD, I added 15 to 20 miles of range for every 100 miles I drove on a road trip from Folsom to Carmel and back through regenerative braking. Traffic (and the braking that goes with) on U.S. 50, Interstate 80 and in San Francisco and on the Peninsula worked in the car's favor. And we took Highway 84 and CA Route 1 down to Carmel, mixing in hills, curves and braking.
But even on the drive home (a different route including Interstate 5), which was flatter, straighter and without traffic, I still added two miles of range in a 214-mile drive. Not too shabby.
Now, let's talk about charging.
The 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5 and the Kia EV6 are the first reasonably-priced mass-market EVs to be built for 800 volt charging. Teslas use 400. It's not linear, but basically, more volts puts more electricity back into the battery more quickly.
On my first charge in San Carlos, topping off for the next day's run down to Carmel, I went from 34% to 85% charge in 23 minutes. That was on a 200kw charger (kw is not the same as volts). It cost $12.50 and I added 127.5 miles of range.
Most chargers are lower output. The fastest one near my house is only a 50kw charger, and I thought that was great, given that some of the older ones are 6kw. But there are also 100kw, 150kw, 200kw like the one I used in San Carlos and then, there's the state of the art at the moment, which was at an Electrify America location in Pacific Grove:
Can I get a "yeah, baby!"?
Now, one thing I learned is that "up to" means just that..."up to". In Pacific Grove, the 350kw charger's max output seemed to peak at 135 kw. And it fluctuated a lot. Going from 27% charge to 80% charge the first time took 26 minutes. That's still remarkable, but three minutes longer for two percent less charge than I got in San Carlos on a less-powerful charger.
After the drive home, a bit of searching on the Electrify America app turned up a 350kw charger six miles from my house in Folsom. So, on the day the IONIQ5 was to be picked up, I did a pre-dawn recharge.
This one maxed out at 147kw, but it was a consistent 147kw. I had been charging to 100% because it was a road trip, but chargers---all of them---slow down between 81 and 100% and I didn't need to go all the way this last time, so I didn't.
I arrived at the charger with 9% charge. I was at 80% in 21 minutes. Total tab: $25.80, or about the equivalent of five gallons of gasoline on that day. Fellow Northern California Journalist Alex "Alex on Autos" Dykes found a 350kw Electrify America charger in suburban San Diego that delivered peak charging of 230kw. He managed 10% to 80% in 18 minutes.
Think about that for a second. When I pulled up, I had 22.5 miles of range. 21 minutes later, I had 200. In any other EV I've driven in this class, that would have been 40 to 50 minutes worth of charging, minimum. A year and a half ago, the Jaguar I-PACE needed 20 minutes to get from 43% to 61% on a 150kw charger.
And buyers of 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5s get two years of free 30-minute charging sessions at Electrify America charging stations. Use the app. Find the 350kw chargers. You'll have time left over.
The IONIQ 5 starts at $43,650 for the base SE, the midrange SEL is $45,900 and the Limited is $50,600. All are rear-wheel drive and all have 303 miles of range per charge. AWD is available for all trims, and that drops range to 250. Our loaded Limited AWD tester was $54,500 with the only option being carpeted floor mats at $195. With $1,225 inland freight and handling, the as-tested price was $55,920.
Those prices, while not cheap, are also not your real bottom line. Hyundai, being new to the EV arena, is still able to qualify its vehicles for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits and up to another $2,000 in California incentives, should we be lucky enough to be neighbors. So, potentially, that's $9,500 off any of the above prices---which would take an IONIQ 5 SE down to a very reasonable $36,400 and our loaded tester down to $46,420---which is only about five grand above the price of an average new car this year.
With its overachieving regenerative braking and its 800-volt capability making charging from 10% to 80% possible in 20 minutes (Hyundai's figure, but remember, I did 9% to 80% in 21 and Alex Dykes did it in 18), the 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5 is a game-changer in a way that, as good as they are, the Mustang Mach-E and Volkswagen ID.4 aren't.
Buckle in. The migration to EVs is about to speed up.