Every once in a while, I drive a car that makes me sit back in awe and wonder why every other brand doesn’t make one just like it. It doesn’t happen often. But sometimes I’m lucky enough to drive a car that genuinely makes me question what the hell everybody else is doing. The 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 is one of those cars.
The Ioniq 6 isn’t Hyundai’s first affordable EV—that would be the funky Ioniq 5 hatchback—but it’s the one with the most mass-market appeal. Under the skin, the Ioniq 6 is essentially the same as its crossover sibling but with a sleeker, more aerodynamic body. While the majority of U.S. customers prefer crossovers to sedans, the Ioniq 6 offers a sportier, more athletic look than some buyers might prefer.
For years, the Tesla Model 3 has essentially owned the market share of semi-affordable electric sedans but now that a mass-market brand like Hyundai has its own competitor, Tesla’s market share shouldn’t be held for long. After a week with the funky-looking electric Hyundai, the only thing I could think was—to quote the world’s favorite helmet-headed bounty hunter—this is the way.
|2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Specs
|Base Price (Limited AWD as tested)
|dual electric motor all-wheel drive | 1-speed automatic transmission
|11.2 cubic feet in trunk | 0.5 cubic feet in frunk
|A stylish, well-rounded, fun-to-drive electric sedan that’s almost impossible to beat at its price.
The Hyundai Ioniq 6 is the four-door sedan version of the Ioniq 5 crossover, which means it’s built on the brand’s E-GMP all-electric platform. That gives it a distinct advantage over some of its competitors like the BMW i4 and Polestar 2. While it isn’t quite as cute as its hatchback sibling, it might appeal more to the Model 3 crowd with its sedan body style.
Looking at the Ioniq 6, it’s hard to not see anything other than the first-generation Mercedes CLS. Its bowed roof and stubby front and rear ends are almost carbon copies of the mid-’00s Benz. This is no bad thing, as it not only looks handsome but that CLS style gives it boatloads of character. So many EVs use aerodynamics as a styling crutch, excusing their boring designs in the name of efficiency, but the Ioniq 6 uses its aerodynamic shape to its advantage. It’s funky and fun in ways that no other electric sedan in its segment can dream of being. The Tesla Model 3 is a snoozefest, the BMW i4 looks like an irradiated beaver, and the Polestar 2—while a good-looking car—is too cold and clinical. The Ioniq 6 might not be for everyone but it’s interesting and is packed with quirky details, like its digital-looking square-dot taillights.
Unfortunately, it isn’t quite as fun inside. It’s cabin is handsome enough but, compared to the extroverted exterior styling, it’s just a bit vanilla. Everything works well, as you’d expect from a modern Hyundai. It just isn’t stylish or interesting to look at.
The digital gauges are simple and their information is clear, which makes judging your range and efficiency a breeze. That sounds like a trivial detail but that sort of information is new to many buyers, so making it easy to understand is crucial. It also has an almost comical amount of space inside. Because it’s built on Hyundai’s new E-GMP electric platform, and not an EV shoehorned into a traditional platform, Hyundai was able to carve out a huge amount of cabin space. So much so that, even with two car seats in the back, both my wife and I were able to stretch our legs out in the front seats and my dog was able to lie down on the floor in the back, between my kids. Everyone was comfy and there was plenty of storage for cups and kid stuff. The only other car I’ve ever driven that has such deceiving interior space is the original Mini.
The dual-motor all-wheel-drive Ioniq 6 makes 320 horsepower and 446 lb-ft of torque. That isn’t as impressive as something like the 470-hp Tesla Model 3 Performance or the 536-hp BMW i4 M50, and it isn’t anywhere near as quick, getting from zero to 60 mph in around 5.1 seconds. Stomp the fast pedal, though, and you won’t care that it isn’t Tesla-quick—it’s plenty quick enough. And with its 77-kWh battery pack, it gets 316 miles of range, so you can go pretty damn fast for a long time.
Driving the Hyundai Ioniq 6
Aside from the odd drive selector, which is a twist knob at the end of an oddly low steering column stalk, there isn’t anything unusual about the Ioniq 6’s driving experience. If you’ve driven an electric car, it feels a lot like that—smooth, silent, and effortless. This is an inherent problem with EVs, as their powertrains all feel the same. However, there’s a competency to the way the Ioniq 6 moves that makes it feel polished and well-engineered. It has good steering, perfectly judged throttle mapping, agile handling, and good brakes. It feels like a sporty-ish sedan that just so happens to be electric. Which will make new electric car customers feel right at home.
It’s also fairly comfortable. It’s big, aerodynamic wheels look fun but they do make the ride a bit choppy. The Ioniq 6 isn’t a rough car but it could be better damped, especially if it wants to play with cars like the BMW i4. Aside from that, though, there’s really nothing to complain about the way it drives. It just feels like a sporty Hyundai sedan and that seems to be what the brand was going for.
The dual-motor powertrain makes enough punch to make the Ioniq 6 fun to drive. It won’t light your hair on fire but only really fast sports cars can take the Hyundai down in a straight line, so buyers should have the confidence to smoke other drivers out of traffic lights.
The Highs and Lows
A car like the Hyundai Ioniq 6 is a delight to drive and live with because it gets the fundamentals right before it gets to the EV bits. It drives well, it looks cool, and it has a feature-packed interior. It has great visibility, a good seating position, and helpful technology, without anything superfluous, like clairvoyant drive selectors or a steering yoke.
However, there are a few highs that stand out among its many pros. The interior space is up there with its best traits, as it’s genuinely shocking just how roomy it is inside. But it also drives wonderfully, with sporty steering and handling that comes close to its competitors from Europe. Its spacey looks make it feel special, and interacting with it is interesting, not something that can be said for every EV out there.
No car is perfect, though, and the Ioniq 6 isn’t without its flaws. For instance, its ride is a bit choppy, something I’ve noticed with almost all Hyundai/Genesis products. It isn’t horrific, and it’s comfortable enough, but harsh jolts can make their way through the cabin, which reminds you that it’s not a premium car, despite it wearing a premium-ish price tag.
The trunk situation is silly because it looks like it’s a four-door hatchback, like the BMW i4, but it isn’t. Instead, it just has a normal trunk and it’s rather small, so that’s a bit of a bummer, considering how much interior space there is. And as nice as it is to ride in the Ioniq 6, its interior materials leave a lot to be desired. Some often-used touchpoints—such as the shift toggle, center console, and door cubbies—feel very cheap. I get Hyundai has to cut costs in certain areas to fit an expensive battery and electric powertrain, so I’m not complaining too much, but it’s worth noting.
Hyundai Ioniq 6 Features, Options, and Competition
The Ioniq 6 SE Standard Range is the entry-level model and it comes with a measly 149-horsepower rear electric motor and 240 miles of range. While the range is fine, it’s a bit slow. But it’s pretty well-equipped, with a standard leather steering wheel, 18-inch wheels, and 12.3-inch screens for both the infotainment system and gauge cluster.
My test car was an Ioniq 6 Limited with the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup. In addition to the added power and range, it comes with 20-inch wheels, Hyundai’s really cool blind-spot camera system that shows their feed in the gauge cluster, Bose speakers, and a remote parking system that allows you to move the car backward and forward with the keyfob.
In terms of competition, there are three cars in the segment it needs to compete with: the Tesla Model 3, BMW i4, and Polestar 2. Of those three cars, the Tesla Model 3 is the only one that gets federal tax credits, per the new Inflation Reduction Act. The Model 3 is cheaper than the Ioniq 6 to start, at $41,640, but then gets the $7,500 federal tax credit to sweeten the deal, and has 322 miles of range. The Polestar 2 starts at $51,300 and gets up to 320 miles of range to start, with its single rear motor while the BMW i4 eDrive35 starts at $53,195 and has 276 miles of max range with a single rear motor.
If I were speccing the Ioniq 6, I’d probably pay up and take my exact test car. Without its bells and whistles, the cabin might not feel worth almost $50,000 and it needs the larger 20-inch wheels, as the smaller wheels just look a bit odd. And even though its as-tested price was nearing $60,000, it’s still a lot of car for that money.
Range, Charging, and Efficiency
Unfortunately, I never had the need to give it a proper charge. With over 300 miles of real-world range, I never depleted its battery anywhere near enough to require something like a 150-kW charge, especially since the closest capable charger to my house is a half-hour drive away. However, its maximum range is as good as advertised, so charging was never an issue. As for efficiency, I sort of bounced around in the low three miles per kilowatt-range, despite having plenty of fun with its all-electric torque.
Value and Verdict
At face value, a small Hyundai sedan with a nearly $60,000 price tag might seem like poor value. But the EV market isn’t the same as the normal car market. Batteries and motors inflate costs and it’s difficult to get into any electric car with 300 miles of range for under the Ioniq 6’s price tag. And considering how good of a car it is, and that it can genuinely compete with more premium brands for less money, it actually does seem like good value.
With a price that undercuts most of its rivals, great driving dynamics, funky-cool looks, an interior with a shocking amount of space, a realistic 300-mile range, and sports car-like performance, there’s nothing the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 really does poorly. Everybody else—I’m looking at you, Honda, Toyota, Chevy, and Ford—should really start taking notes.
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