People ask me, is Hyundai the Korean word for butter? Because Hyundai is on a roll. Sorry (not sorry) for the #dadjoke, but it fits. The IONIQ 5 is not simply a good Hyundai, it’s a great car, full stop. It’s also a great car that happens to be a great electric vehicle. No it’s not perfect (no car is) but instead of just mitigating away potential complaint points, I think they’ve truly created a lovable product in many ways.
Despite looking like a svelte and fashion forward hatchback in pictures, the IONIQ 5 is a sizable vehicle. At 182.5″ long it is squarely in the exterior footprint of a traditional compact SUV like a Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Hyundai’s own Tucson. Good company since that’s the most popular segment in America these days. The party trick for the IONIQ 5 has to do with the wheelbase (distance between the wheels) where the IONIQ 5 measures 118.1″, which is nearly 10-12″ longer than most of those compact SUVs, and even longer than the large 3-row Hyundai Palisade. The long wheelbase, combined with no need for a large front hood, allow for an immense interior space within a fairly tidy overall length. Although that long wheelbase does make for a fairly wide turning circle, so that U-turn may not always work out.
Case in point is a massive back seat. There’s more back seat room in the IONIQ 5 than in our long-term BMW X5 we just took delivery of, which is a foot longer! The interior is also flexible, with tons of storage space up front thanks to the sliding center console. You can throw big bags in between the front seats and under the armrest itself. Rear seats also have tons of travel fore-aft to create more cargo room (although you’d leave an awkward gap in the cargo floor) and ability to do a deep recline in back as well. There’s better clearance between my driver seat position and a rear infant seat in the IONIQ 5 than in the aforementioned X5, where I’m forced to scoot up closer to the wheel.
But what about the drive? That’s what really starts to set Hyundai apart. Hyundai has a lot of experience with EVs and it shows. Acceleration is smooth and powerful, more so than anyone really needs it to be, with 0 to 60 miles per hour often quoted under 5 seconds thanks to our dual-motor system with 320 horsepower and a whopping 446 lb-ft of instantaneous torque. Can’t imagine the fury that the reported IONIQ 5 N might bring, the cousin Kia EV6 GT reaches the coveted 60 mile per hour mark in the 3.5 second range.
Regenerative braking, where the car can help recapture your forward motion to slow down, is present with selectable modes via the flappy paddles on the steering wheel. You can choose between no regen, where the car will coast like a gas engine car when you let off the accelerator pedal or 3 levels of regen, and there is also an Auto Mode which works kind of like adaptive cruise control to help you slow down (but note it can’t bring you to a stop) and then I-Pedal mode, which is the EV-specific one-pedal driving where it can use aggressive regen and bring you to a complete stop. Appreciate all the EV driving customization afforded to the driver here.
Ride comfort is good in the IONIQ 5, even with the 20″ wheels on our Limited trim tester. It’s definitely tuned more for comfort than something like our long-term Polestar 2, which rides quite a bit stiffer. The IONIQ 5 is far from wallowy, but larger road events do come through to the cabin so it’s not as planted, but it serves its intended function target well. Steering weight/heft is actually a touch heavier than I would have expected, even in Normal and Eco modes. I think Hyundai could go a touch lighter in Normal mode and save the heft for Sport or a custom setting. There is mass to the IONIQ 5 as with most EVs. Sure there is some lean in a turn or corner, but I still found it fun to hustle around town. The tradeoff between daily driving comfort and dynamic driving is well balanced here.
Adding to the comfort is a terrific cabin design and experience. The IONIQ 5 feels wide and spacious, aided by the EV floorpan which negates the need for a wide tunnel going through the interior. Material quality is fairly good, with largely traditional pieces with lots of soft touch elements where you need it (arm rests) and some pseudo stitching elements and there are some harder plastics, but most of that is kept pretty low in the interior. Expressive, but not outlandish, design also helps bring a sense of occasion to the interior. Hyundai keeps themes of square pixels and angular lines throughout, embossed on the seats and in the speaker grilles and cupholder liners, etc. Good mix of hard button controls and some touch sensitive ones. I do think the heated/ventilated seat and heated steering wheel controls should warrant hard controls, or at least first-level access, rather than being buried in the “Warmer” menu.
Overall tech is competitive. The Limited features an augmented reality head up display that can aid with dynamic, 3-dimensional navigation directions, but only with onboard factory navigation system. Would be nice if it linked to CarPlay/Android Auto navigation. Speaking of CarPlay, it is still a wired affair here, and while there are nice convenient USBs on the moving center console, the phone mirroring uses the USB port up under the dash, so there is a reach for that. Would also like to see some more customization of the digital gauge cluster rather than just themed drive modes and various trip meter displays. On the plus side, Hyundai’s advanced driver tech is along for the ride, and even features aided lane change functions. Although I think the most useful one that people will benefit from is where the car can alert you if the vehicle ahead of you has started to drive off.
And getting to the other EV bits, the 2022 IONIQ 5 dual motor is rated at an EPA range of 256 miles (for 2023 this gets boosted to 266 miles) thanks to a 77.4 kWh battery pack. In our week, we saw an average efficiency of about 3.1 miles per kWh, which is slightly below the rated 3.3. We were experiencing some pretty cold temps here in the DC area though and the car sat cold outdoors overnight, which is hard for almost any EV. The other part of IONIQ 5’s EV goodness is its ability to ultra fast charge at a DC station from 10 to 80% in just 18 minutes, That type of charging is nearly unmatched by other EVs, especially EVs under $60,000. One hangup for the IONIQ 5 would be that its factory navigation doesn’t serve up charging optimized routing for long distance travel, but hopefully it will come as an update, since the upcoming IONIQ 6 announced that it will have that ability.
What are the IONIQ 5’s areas of improvement? Mostly some nitpicks aside from the charging navigation mentioned above. There are still no exterior lock/unlock sensors on the rear doors, something that parents would greatly benefit from. Hyundai does mitigate this a bit since you can have all doors unlock upon proximity to the car as you walk up, but to lock you’d still need to go to the front door. Also don’t know why Hyundai still requires all doors to be closed before being able to take a lock request. Other vehicles can absorb the lock request and then lock the car once all doors have been closed. Similarly, there is no close and lock button on the power tailgate, just a close. I also always prefer a 40-20-40 split rear seat for added flexibility, vs the 60/40 found here. There are no auto dimming exterior mirrors and the rear windows don’t have auto up/down (I told you these were going to be nitpicks). The big glass roof doesn’t slide or tilt open, but it does have a powered shade which is nice. No rear wiper to help clean the back window off, but pictures of newer prototypes seem to show that one is coming soon. And after getting used to not having to hit a start/stop button in our Polestar 2, you can just get in and out, it seems odd to have to do so in the IONIQ 5 (or any other car for that matter).
I find the IONIQ 5 to be a truly well-rounded vehicle that is somehow a jack of all trades and even the master of many, which at nearly $57,000 as tested it should be! As much as people claim the 2011 Sonata was a turning point for the Hyundai brand in the mind of consumer consideration, and more recently the Palisade (which we’re testing next) has brought consumers to consider a $50,000 Hyundai, the IONIQ 5 really pushes the brand into its next phase in life, and one where Hyundai is truly bringing some industry leading product to market. Terrific interior space to size ratio, comfort and modest dynamic ambitions, design flair inside and out and a fairly approachable price point, at least for the entry and mid level trims. It’s hard to find a fatal flaw here.
Will the lack of federal EV tax credit due to the new North American build requirements dampen overall demand for this high flying EV? We’ll see, because dealers still seem to have long wait lists, especially if not wanting to pay over MSRP. But the IONIQ 5 lived up to the hype and beyond. Had this been available last year as we were shopping for our Polestar 2, it would very likely have a spot in our garage.