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  • By John R. Quain

Hyundai Ioniq 5: The Best Electric Car Yet?

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

Wending along the serpentine curves of route 79 in southern California, I'm testing the quiet power of Hyundai's new all-electric compact SUV. But really, I'm headed for pie country.

The Ioniq 5 takes the lead in EVs.

The Jilian Pie Company sits near the end of the main street of the eponymous town and is best known for it's Dutch Apple pie, a slice of which would have sent Twin Peaks' Agent Cooper into euphoria. But I'm supposed to be focusing on the latest technology behind the Ioniq 5. Hyundai has plenty riding on the new vehicle, with most manufacturers planning to go fully electric in the next few years.

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is one of the most striking and forward looking EVs to come along so far. It's angular lines and minimalist front and rear ends make Tesla's vehicles look like '80s retro designs. The compact SUV also comes in several models, from a basic, single motor, rear wheel drive edition to a fully loaded all-wheel-drive model. It gets over 300 miles of range on a single charge and can be charged faster than a Tesla Y or a Mustang Mach-E--and it costs less: just under $45,000 for the long-range model. And with the $7,500 federal rebate in the U.S., that puts it under $38,00. The Tesla Y costs nearly $60,000 to start.

A very capable driver that can take the tight double-backs and hairpin turns of southern California roads with ease, the Ioniq also delivers the latest technological conveniences. Those include a wireless phone charger, compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, built-in navigation and voice recognition, and two 12-inch dashboard displays. Hyundai uses these to great effect, offering side blindspot video views whey you hit the turn signals on the highway, as well as front and rear camera views when you get close to an object, and a 360-degree video view to help you park.

Ready for your close-up?

A full complement of advanced driver assistance programs is also included in most models, such as rear cross traffic and pedestrian braking systems, lane-keeping assist, collision avoidance, and in the top-of-the-line model an adaptive cruise control system that learns your habits. After several hours of driving, it will, for example, naturally speed up more quickly or slow down according to how you tend to drive in traffic using the adaptive cruise control.

The Ioniq 5 is so tricked out with tech, you don't even need a key or key fob anymore. Drivers can use their smartphone's Bluetooth connection to lock and unlock the car. And when you're away from the vehicle, the Hyundai app can be used to remotely start the vehicle, check its charging status, and even send a friend a remote digital key so they can open and drive your car.

This is a quick vehicle, able to do 0 to 60 mph in about 5 seconds, and pass semi-tractor trailers in a split second, but it's the rapid charging feature that will convert car buyers. The Ioniq 5 has an 800-volt system, meaning it can take full advantage of super fast DC chargers at public stations. That means it takes just 18-minutes to take the car from 10 percent to 80 percent of a full-charge. It is a significant difference considering that I had to wait around for 35 minutes to get the same power into a Mustang Mach-E during one of my recent test drives.

Sharp line and pixel LEDs give Hyundai's EV a distinctive look.

Better still, Hyundai is offering new Ioniq 5 owners 2 years of free charging at public Electrify America stations. And Robert Barrosa, Electify America's senior director of sales and marketing told me that the company continues to expand its network of about 800 stations across the country.

Is this the best EV yet introduced? For most car buyers, the answer is, absolutely.


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