2020 Hyundai Ioniq: Modest Changes, but the Electric Goes to War With Nissan

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
2020 hyundai ioniq modest changes but the electric goes to war with nissan

No one wants to come in last. With the Volkswagen e-Golf and Smart Fortwo EQ Electric Drive Whatever discontinued, Hyundai’s compact Ioniq Electric hatchback was poised to be the lowest-range electric vehicle in the North American market (minus, of course, the limited-availability, lease-only Honda Clarity EV).

Clearly, this looming position at the bottom of the ladder left a bad taste in Hyundai’s mouth. Preferring to see Nissan there, it set about making the necessary changes.

For 2020, the Ionic line, which encompasses a very thrifty hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and an EV, undergoes some mild styling changes and adds the Hyundai SmartSense suite of safety features as standard equipment. There’s a revised grille and fascia (non-electrics get mesh), plus LED lamps fore and aft on uplevel trims, side sill moldings, and revamped wheel designs.

But you’re probably wondering how the Ioniq Electric, a low-priced green vehicle unlikely to grace the driveway of any TTAC reader, kicks Nissan’s ass. Well, for 2020 the model swaps its petite 28 kWh battery pack for a beefier 38.3 kWh unit. The swap elevates the vehicle’s driving range from a mediocre-at-best 124 miles to 170 miles, outclassing the base Nissan Leaf’s 151-mile range.

Unlike the Leaf, however, Ioniq buyers can’t shell out extra cash for a 226-mile “Plus” variant. Oh well. At least Hyundai can boast of its base EV offering more range. While Hyundai didn’t mention Ioniq Electric pricing, the 2019 model started at $31,245 after destination and before a $7,500 federal tax credit. That’s $330 more than a base Leaf S.

For the coming model year, the Electric also offers more grunt: 134 horsepower, compared to the previous 118 hp, though torque remains the same at 218 lb-ft. Charging speed also rises, from 6.6 kW to 7.2 kW, promising quicker battery top-ups. As for the Hybrid and PHEV, their powertrains remain unchanged.

Inside all Ioniqs, the newly upgraded 8-inch touchscreen (2019MY had a 7-inch) can be binned in favor of a 10.25-inch “widescreen” with navigation (see below), while the instrument panel also undergoes a revision. A new center LCD information screen joins the fray, as do touchscreen HVAC controls. Ambient lighting is customizable.

Hybrid buyers finally get the regenerative braking control paddles that eluded them up to this point.

As for safety, the SmartSense features include forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist, high beam assist, and driver attention warning. If road trips make you nervous, highway driving assist and lane following assist are optional.

Arriving in early 2017, the electrified Ioniq line hasn’t exactly set the sales charts on fire, though the past few months has seen the model’s volume increase noticeably. Year to date, Ioniq sales are up 33 percent.

[Images: Hyundai, Tim Healey/TTAC]

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Nov 21, 2019

    "...a low-priced green vehicle unlikely to grace the driveway of any TTAC reader" I have one (in blue, a 2019), and I don't even live in a CARB state. In the past year I've driven it 14k trouble-free miles. The first maintenance expense was a set of wipers this week. It's added maybe $30 to my electric bill each month. Range has been fine, with anxiety only a couple times when I know I've been pushing it. This car is way better than my 12 Leaf was, and IMO, when I test drove an 18 Leaf it felt just like a warmed-over version of my old car. Hyundai has a hidden gem in the Ioniq, but they don't seem committed to expanding its market.

    • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Nov 21, 2019

      The next logical step for me will be a hybrid of some flavour. With that said, it's nothing I'm actively researching since I just plunked down for a CX-5.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Nov 22, 2019

    Proposed interim new-car buying advice based on this article: "Wait two years if you can." Rationale: EV's are likely to improve, and charging infrastructure may improve. Many ICE powertrains will continue down the path of voluntary seppuku. Both EV and ICE will have the opportunity to iron out safety, driver assistance and touchscreen issues.

  • Conundrum Can't see that the Espada chassis had much to do with the Miura. The Miura had a rear-mounted transverse V12 with the transmission and final drive all part of the engine block. So it's a bit of a stretch saying the north-south V12 and regular transmission Espada chassis was related to the Miura. It looks to be no more than an update of the 400 GT. And short and long-arm independendent suspension was hardly unique -- a '53 Chev had that in front, it was standard for years on most cars that didn't have Mac struts. The Brits call SLA suspension double wishbone, so Honda thought that sounded more mysterious than SLA and used that terminology in ads, but it's the same thing. Only a few mid '30s cars had same length upper and lower A-arms like a '36 Chev, before the obvious advantage of a short upper arm for camber control was introduced. Of course Ford used a dead beam front axle until 1949, so it was last to climb out of the stone age.Do you have a link to a reference that says the Miura and Espada chassis were related?
  • FreedMike One of the things that we here in North America often forget about Europe is that it's a COMPLETELY different world to drive in. Imagine driving in the downtown area of the city you live in 24/7, and never leaving it, and you have a decent simulation of what it's like to drive in a place like Paris, or London, or Rome - or Manhattan, for that matter. As far as the "dystopia" is concerned, I don't really see it that way. This isn't made for people living in the 'burbs - it's for urban dwellers. And for that application, this car would be about perfect. The big question is how successful the effort to provide large-scale EV charging in urban areas will be.
  • Matzel I am hoping that Vee-Dub will improve the UX and offer additional color options for the 2024 Mk8.5 refresh for Canada. Until then, I'll be quite happy with my '21 GTI performance pack. It still puts a smile on my face going through the twisty bits.
  • Stanley Steamer There have been other concepts with BYOT, that I have always thought was a great idea. Replacing bespoke parts is expensive. If I can plug in a standard 17" monitor to serve as my instrument panel, as well as speakers, radio, generic motors, batteries, I'm for it. Cheaper repair, replacement, or upgrade costs. Heck I'd even like to put in my own comfy seats. My house didn't come with a built in LaZboy. The irony is that omitting these bespoke items at the point of sale allows me to create a more bespoke car as a whole. It's hard to imagine what an empty rolling monocoque chassis would look like capable of having powertrains and accessories easily bolted on in my garage, but something like the Bollinger suv comes to mind.
  • Iam65689044 Sometimes I'm glad the French don't sell in America. This is one of those times.
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