- The 2022 Ioniq 5 is Hyundai’s latest and greatest electric SUV.
- We were floored by the $56,000 version we tested’s sci-fi looks, quick charging, and comfy cabin.
- The Ioniq 5 starts at $39,700 for the base model.
At auto shows and, more recently, through virtual events, car companies regularly trot out imaginative, forward-thinking vehicles that rarely amount to anything more than a design exercise.
Typically, these outlandish, one-off concept cars generate some buzz, the automotive press wonders whether anything this cool will ever actually roll out of a factory, and if something does get built, it seldom lives up to the excitement of the original design.
So it came as a delightful surprise when Hyundai’s new electric SUV, the 2022 Ioniq 5, debuted with all the exaggerated, daring styling of a futuristic concept car from a few years earlier.
The Ioniq 5 that went on sale late last year features bold, origami-like creases piercing its sides, “pixelated” headlights and taillights comprised of little squares, and an overall look that, in the best way possible, feels like it rolled straight out of a 1980s sci-fi flick.
However, it brings a lot more to the party than just good looks. The SUV also offers living-room comfort, loads of safety tech, and experimental features you won’t find anywhere else.
A few days behind the wheel earlier this month proved that the SUV is all it’s cracked up to be and then some. If you’re in the market for an electric vehicle, this one deserves a spot near the top of your list.
A first for Hyundai
Hyundai has made electric cars before, but none quite like the Ioniq 5. It sells the Kona Electric, but that’s a gas SUV that the company reworked to run on battery power. The Ioniq 5 is the Korean brand’s first model built from the ground up to be an EV. Moving forward, Ioniq will serve as Hyundai’s electric sub-brand, and its battery platform will underpin dozens of future EVs.
And that clean-sheet approach shows. From its striking good looks to its exceptionally fast charging ability, you get the sense that a great deal of thought went into every little detail in the Ioniq 5.
First, the basics. The Ioniq 5 comes in three trim levels: SE, SEL, and Limited. Each can be had with either a single motor and rear-wheel drive or dual motors and all-wheel drive. The former gives you better driving range, while the latter offers improved power and grip. A cheaper, entry-level model with a smaller battery pack is on the way.
- SE ($39,700 MSRP): The base, rear-wheel-drive version offers 220 miles of range and 168 horsepower, but isn’t available yet. The lowest-cost model on the market is the SE Long Range, which starts at $43,650 and offers 303 miles of range.
- SEL ($45,900): Adds ambient lighting, a heated steering wheel, wireless device charging, synthetic-leather seats, extra safety technology, and other features.
- Limited ($50,600): Adds Hyundai’s most advanced driver-assistance feature, a glass roof, ventilated front seats, a head-up display, and other features.
The fully-loaded Ioniq 5 Limited AWD Hyundai loaned me came out to $55,920, including a destination fee.
What stands out: A sleek interior that’s bigger than you’d expect
Depending on how you look at it, the Ioniq 5 resembles either a squat SUV or a slightly inflated hatchback. Regardless, it doesn’t come off as particularly large. But step inside the compact SUV, and the first thing you’ll notice is just how uncluttered and spacious it feels.
Thanks to some clever design choices and the beauty of compact, electric powertrains, the Ioniq 5 has a flat floor, ample room in the driver and passenger footwells, and a huge open space in front of the center console for a bag or purse. The bright materials and sprawling glass roof in the model I tested added to the sense of volume.
To get a sense of just how much room there is for passengers to stretch out in the Ioniq 5, consider that its wheelbase is longer than that of Hyundai’s much larger, three-row Palisade SUV.
One fun albeit a little gimmicky touch: In top-trim Limited models, a sliding center console lets you choose if you want more room for the rear passengers or up front. Moreover, the Ioniq 5’s open-concept floor plan means there’s nothing for your right knee to dig into while you’re driving. Tall people, rejoice!
On top of all that, the cabin’s sleek design and comfy seats make it just plain pleasant to spend time in. If you want to take a snooze while charging, the front seats recline fully and can be optioned with a calf rest.
And Hyundai managed to channel Tesla’s minimalist, technology-heavy aesthetic without making the Ioniq 5 sterile or overly complicated to operate. Thankfully, the SUV includes buttons for the climate controls and radio, rather than cramming every important function into the touchscreen.
Driving the Ioniq 5
Rated at 320 horsepower and 446 pound-feet of torque, the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Ioniq 5 I tested packs a serious punch. According to Hyundai, it zips to 60 mph in around five seconds, a figure I didn’t independently verify but wholeheartedly believe based on my unsuspecting passengers’ gasps.
Switching the Ioniq 5 into Sport mode puts all that neck-snapping power at your big toe, but driving range drops accordingly. Eco mode disables the front motor, conserving energy and resulting in a more subdued driving experience. The Normal setting falls somewhere in the middle. Across the board, the Ioniq 5 glides smoothly and quietly down the highway and is unbothered by rough roads.
Thrilling as the all-wheel-drive model may be, there’s a good case for choosing a slightly less exciting rear-wheel-drive version: range. All-wheel-drive models are rated for a just-okay 256 miles. Opt for rear-wheel-drive, and the Environmental Protection Agency says you’ll get a stellar 303 miles per charge.
Across all models, Hyundai bestowed the Ioniq 5 with the ability to charge incredibly quickly. The SUV can use 350-kilowatt stations — the most powerful type around — to recharge from 10-80% in a swift 18 minutes, Hyundai says. It even posted a video to prove it. The only EVs that can come close to that kind of charging speed are fancy, six-figure cars like the Tesla Model S, Lucid Air, and Porsche Taycan.
Likewise, all Ioniq 5s get an impressive array of safety tech, including forward-collision avoidance, lane-keeping, and blind-spot monitoring. The Limited trim comes equipped with extra features, including extremely handy blind-spot cameras that switch on whenever you hit the turn signal, along with an augmented-reality display on the windshield that shows your speed and blind-spot status.
What falls short: Not much
Five days testing the Ioniq 5 left me impressed overall, but I did notice a few flaws. Although I loved the SUV’s roomy interior layout and intuitive tech, some design decisions had me scratching my head.
To use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, you need to plug your device into a USB port all the way down by the driver’s feet. Why Hyundai didn’t include wireless functionality or some more convenient ports instead is puzzling. Similarly, the wireless charging pad is a welcome touch in the Limited model, but it’s located deep inside the center console in a hard-to-reach spot.
The climate-control settings use smooth, touch-sensitive buttons that don’t buzz or otherwise offer feedback when you tap them, making it difficult to understand what you’re doing without looking away from the road. But these sorts of controls are everywhere now, so maybe I should just shut up about it.
The complete package
From a design standpoint, the Ioniq 5 is a home run. Its unmistakable, space-age styling turns heads and makes you feel special, while its clean, airy cabin keeps you comfortable as you silently glide to your destination.
Importantly, though, Hyundai didn’t compromise daily usability, which is bolstered by the Ioniq 5’s long driving range, super-fast charging, and terrific use of interior space. Fanciful extras like a sliding center console and the ability to act as a giant mobile power bank show that Hyundai is eager to experiment with features people don’t know they need yet.
With more superb options like this, electric cars should have no trouble hitting the mainstream.