There have been many surprises about hybrids and electric vehicles in 2016. From the Chevy Bolt EV’s 238 miles of range to the 133 MPGe achieved by Toyota Prius Prime, advances in battery technology are revolutionizing the green car market. Meanwhile, we have been waiting to see how Hyundai Ioniq fits into the puzzle.
The early returns on Ioniq are very impressive. According to Hyundai, the hybrid model will achieve 58 MPG combined, the Detroit News reported. That figure tops every other fuel economy rating on the U.S. market outside of plug-in EVs and shakes up the hybrid segment for the coming years.
In fact, it puts Prius on the defensive in a category where it has been the undisputed leader. Even with its global brand recognition, Prius will likely face a challenge from Ioniq when the hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicle arrive in the U.S. (starting in early 2017). Here are three key differences for consumers to note when comparing the two standard hybrid models: Hyundai Ioniq vs. Toyota Prius.
1. Ioniq’s greater power and fuel economy
Part of Hyundai’s rationale for the Ioniq line was bringing more excitement to the green car segment. Along with dual-clutch transmission (as opposed to CVT) and its peppy Sport mode, Ioniq Hybrid delivers more power (by 10 horses) and torque (by 5 pounds-feet) than Prius Two or Eco models. Though performance is not the main driver in this segment, Ioniq has the edge.
On the other hand, fuel economy is close to everything, and Ioniq wins in that department, too. Hyundai said it will get an EPA-estimated 59 MPG on the highway and 57 in city driving. While Prius maintains a slight edge in city economy (58 MPG), its 53 MPG highway and 56 combined in Eco models will both trail Ioniq’s marks when Hyundai unveils it in the first quarter of 2017. It’s a big win for the Korean automaker.
2. Hybrid vs. low-key style
Depending on your perspective, you might consider the Prius angular, edgy, or simply unattractive. The front features a zigzag effect at the corners and other flourishes that identify your car as the famous Toyota hybrid. Hyundai took the opposite approach with Ioniq. While there are slight differences between the hybrid and plug-in models, Ioniq as a nameplate is a low-key car. As for the standard hybrid we’re discussing, Hyundai went out of its way to produce a car that looks “normal.” We’ll see how the market responds.
3. Ioniq’s lifetime battery warranty
There is not much “battery anxiety” lingering these days, but it might be a factor for consumers considering a car for the long haul. On that front, Toyota offers owners a guarantee on the Prius battery for eight years or 100,000 miles. Hyundai takes it to the next level with lifetime warranties on all its Ioniq models. This strong protection might matter more to consumers interested in the plug-in hybrid or the all-electric model, but it remains one of the key differences between the industry’s fuel economy leaders.
Follow Eric on Twitter @EricSchaalNY