My 2019 Hyundai Ioniq and Volkswagen Golf R

Look what we have here…an electric vehicle parked in front of my house for the next 36 months (34 as of this writing). In no way could this be a primary car and should realistically be a family’s 3rd car. Sounds like a joke, right? This view comes from someone who is 33 and drives about 21,000 miles a year. My commute to work is only 5.7 miles each way but it’s the non-work trips to Canada, New York, Boston (4-10 times a year for flights) and other events that rack up the miles. My nearest good brewery is 75 miles away and I go there once a month. The Hyundai Ioniq with a maximum 136 mile range with everything turned off even cruise control is not a car you can live with daily. I tried for the first 30 days actually to drive the car every day even 2 trips to Boston and back. After paying $11 per ‘tank’ to re-fill the electric vehicle on the way down and back up and then having to wait 26 hours when I got home before I could drive it again (level 1 wall charger), I realized it would have been way easier to hop in one of our 3 other cars that eeach get 275-400 miles to a tank without having to stop for an hour each way to re-charge (re-fuel) and I’d be able to run the heater and plug my iPhone in. If I never leave my town, the Ioniq is amazing. In fact, it’s a fantastic vehicle for your 16 year old or your 78 year old family member. Keep them close, keep them cold (no heat) and keep them from having to deal with over 90% of the things that can go wrong in a car such as oil, coolant, fluids and other tom-foolery. They have rotate the tires every 10K miles, check the brake pads annually for wear (or during your state’s inspection) and top up the windshield washer fluid (if they want). 

Every night, after getting no more than 40 miles from home, they’ll plug the vehicle in and without a fancy level 2 charger at home, they should be fully charged by morning. If your teen breaks curfew, well their Ioniq won’t have a full charge to go as far from home today. Truly a day-limiting-move to stay out so late the night before.

…and for everyone else like my girlfriend and I, the Ioniq is a way to simply reduce the annual miles you put on your primary vehicle. Heather drives 20K miles a year and I do as well but I am lucky to have two cars and three motorcycles while she has just one car and one motorcycle and honestly, we never would have leased a Hyundai Ioniq or a Hyundai at all if not for an insane Fall special that popped up out of nowhere.  Auto blog, TTAC posted on October 8th, America’s Cheapest Lease and of course I was going to click. 

In New York, the lease offer differs, but is no less appealing. For $79 a month and $999 down, residents of the Empire State can get into one of these little electrics for the equivalent of $107 a month. While you won’t make it to Albany on a charge, you can head from the Big Apple to the Hamptons with reasonable peace of mind.

Mother of God. I started with my local Hyundai dealer in Vermont. Remember, this car is only sold in 7 states. The only Ioniq in Vermont was at a dealer 5 miles from me, “Yeah we know why you’re calling. The owner just leased it himself.” Well shoot. I hopped on Hyundai’s site and started calling every dealer in order of proximity in the states that had the offer and finally a Hyundai dealer in Albany picked up. They said, “I have 12 other emails asking about the same car. If you want it, I’ll need a deposit now” I forked over $999 on my card and she promised to call me back later that week to get the paperwork sorted out. 

At this point, I was skeptical. I was waiting for the rigamarole like $500 in title and acquisition fees and $350 in dealer setup fees and another $99 for floor mats and a required extended warranty and BlueLink being required at $150 a year (Hyndai’s Telematics system) and finally having to pay New York State sales tax. I was told “the paperwork will be ready when you come in” That wasn’t good enough for me. I needed to see a copy now before my girlfriend and I drove 3 hours to Albany and be baited and switched. 

Three separate sales people on Friday and Saturday told me “seriously, you don’t owe any more money, you’ll pickup the car, the first month is already paid in the $999 down. Just come on in. The only other deal breaker was they couldn’t figure out what color I was getting. I refuse to buy a silver or black car or awful grey. I wanted blue. They finally on Saturday confirmed…it was the blue one. Yeah, I’m picky about my $79 a month leases.

We drive to Albany in my Golf R. Roll up and the paperwork process took a bit longer than my last 6 vehicle buying experiences. Yeah, the paperwork was ready but they did try to add on some extra coverages which I had to refuse. Dealers don’t really get that we consumers don’t need that shit. Seriously, piss off. I got out my calculator and added everything up in the bill of sale looking for some add-on. I couldn’t find anything. It was all there. I gave them $999, all of the fees were included in that and I left with a vehicle that I could buy at the end of the lease for around $14K. There is a $400 or maybe it was $600 fee when I turn the car in if I don’t choose to lease another Hyundai or buy it myself. Depending on the car’s value when I turn it in, I very well may purchase it only to sell it for $15K and make a bit more money at the end. Here’s my deal:

  • $999 down
  • $79 a month x 36 months
  • -$500 Bonus Drive (a deal through Allstate when you lease or buy a new Hyundai even if you don’t buy their insurance)
  • -$50 Gift Card (as a part of Hyundai’s test drive promotion)
  • $300 a year for insurance…technically $600 but I won’t drive this year-round so I can drop coverage when I’d like to comprehensive

I don’t know yet what registration cost is but I imagine first year will be $450, second year $350 and it then stops dropping after that. I would say that all in, I’m spending about $175 a month for this vehicle but here’s the kicker.

There’s zero maintenance. In the 3 years I lease this car, I’m allowed 30K miles of driving and will probably only do about 20K on this vehicle. The tires will remain all-seasons since I have the Ford Escape for deep snow, there’s no oil changes and if I don’t leave my town, the electricity is free. The solar panels charge the car and my work has a level 2 charger so I’ll always be 90% charged or more throughout the day. The lease does require I have Hyundai do an annual inspection but we’re talking a $60 inspection for peace of mind, software updates, those sort of things. The Hyundai BlueLink ended up being free throughout the lease as did SiriusXM. Honestly, I just think BlueLink allows Hyundai finance to track where the car goes and make sure I’m not abusing it (it’ll send crash data and other things back to their cloud via the onboard LTE modem).

That was a brief digression because my amazing lease deal won’t be yours. In fact, the 2020 Hyundai Ioniq on its way to dealers has a 38KWh battery up from 28 with presumably the same MPGe estimate of 136MPG so you’ll get closer to 200 miles of range in the next version and you’re probably reading this because you’re considering spending $36,000 USD on one of these. Don’t. 

Don’t buy one of these for full price. Get a Tesla Model 3 instead. Sure it won’t come with CarPlay and you’ll have to use an adapter for every EV charger that isn’t Tesla branded and you’ll have problems if you ever have a crash getting replacement parts for it or even a windshield but honestly, $36K gets you in reach of their 250 mile version and like the Ioniq will be a single motor powering one axle and will probably have better resale value.

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BUT since you’re here to find my opinion on the Ioniq EV, know there is a better option and that’s to buy the PHEV which has a few miles of EV only range and you really never have to plug it in because the motor will recharge the battery for you and you’ll never be left stranded with a dead battery like I almost was at 2AM driving home from Boston and the only fast charger I could find was offline for maintenance so I hobbled with 0 mile range to another charger and ended up getting home 5 hours later than I would have been had I been in a PHEV or gasoline powered vehicle. 

The Ioniq is well built, it’s quiet and it has CarPlay. The TFT screen is great, the CarPlay features work great and the heated seat really puts out some heat. The interior on the base model is firm and supple but no bolstering and it is boring cloth. The base headlights are halogen projectors (bulbs) so it fails miserably at NHTSA’s visibility ratings. The reverse lights are dim so therefore the backup camera is also dim and unlike Volkswagens genius hiding of the back up camera under the VW logo to keep it clean, the Hyundai like most other cars has an exposed back up camera which gets covered in road-salt this time of year and becomes useless. The Prius style split rear window sucks. I hate it. Own the hatch or don’t but that half lower window is too low to see anything but road and the slanted top line window too high to see the cars behind you. Visibility out of the rear sucks. B-Pillars are well placed, A-Pillars are slightly in the way. The brake lights are plenty bright which helps. The interior lights are halogen but LEDs are available from eBay and other sources. There’s decent amount of storage, my dog doesn’t mind the back hatch area for his car rides. I had to install (drill) my own front license plate but one came in the car. I guess the dealer just forgot to install it.

Riding, it’s okay. It’s economy scale riding. It feels like I’m in an Altima or Fit. Steering responds adequately. Body roll is in line with what you expect…no surprises really. The insanely narrow 16” tires for fuel economy suck. You fall into potholes and while the suspension is sending controls from the steering just fine, the response the tires give you sucks. 

Acceleration. Shitty. It’s supposedly pushing over 200lb/ft of torque and 118 horsepower but when you floor it, the range starts dropping dramatically, the small tires are squeezing and you’re really not accelerating anywhere near what our Golfs do…okay, the Golf R isn’t fair but our 1.8T sportwagen has 170HP and180(?) torque and feels it. While there’s no turbo delay in the Ioniq, the car really doesn’t want to go quickly. Use sparingly and make sure those front wheels are straight because they’ll scream all the way through the turn when that torque comes on from a stop. Yes, it’s front wheel drive.

The real-time range view is really nice. It’s 20 degrees outside, the range reads 110 miles (because of cold and batteries hate each other) and you turn on the heater to 65F and the range now reads 70 miles. You plug in your iPhone, turn on the defrosters and turn on the heated seat…68 miles. You floor it pulling out into traffic or getting onto the interstate…65 miles. You arrive to work with a range of 55 miles and you were 5 miles away from the office. It’s rough. A 28KWh motor is simply not enough to ever leave the city. On our drive back from an airport 70 miles away from home, fully charged we had to keep the heat off to make it home. Windows were fogging up, it was cold outside, headlights were on and we did run the heated seat but we were miserable. We were bundled up in jackets, mittens, caps and boots and could see our steamy breath move through the cabin. I got home with the low-fuel light on and 10 miles range. I couldn’t use cruise control because I had to slow down up hills and increase speed down hills. I kept high beams off as well just in case even though it was dark out.

Heather remarked, “You bought a $36,000 car and we can’t even go to the airport one way and run heat. This blows.”

She’s right.

If you live in Dallas or Boston, this car would work for you. Any metro area would be fine. The Limited trim which is $4-5K more I think has a heat pump which does save you electricity on cold days. That’s worth the price in addition to having much better headlights and heather seats and a wireless Qi Charger among a few other nice features like blind spot detection and auto cruise control. But the limited trim won’t help your range on normal days where you don’t need heat. You’ll still be limited to 136 miles in perfect conditions with a light throttle. 

The 2020 Ioniq will help all of this but not by much. 

What’s amazing is that I have a 2015 Ford Escape S (FWD, base model) with 264K miles (yes seriously) and the goal was the Ioniq is my winter car (October – May) when it’s not deep snowing. Then I’d take the Escape. That way I could keep the All seasons on this vehicle and not surpass my 30K miles lease maximum. However, when I walk out in the morning to drive to work despite the Ioniq being electric, way more efficient, brand new with all new tech and suspension and tires and a better riding position than the Escape which is frankly falling apart, actually don’t know what car I want to drive. The escape sucks but so does the Ioniq. Neither satisfy me to drive. I’d prefer to drive Heather’s SEL Sportwagen. Still FWD but at least it’s more ergonomic, planted, more predictable and has a much more fun factor. It costs the same as the Ioniq until you factor in the maintenance costs of spark plugs, air filters, oil, transmission fluid and things like that. Then there’s my Golf R which is twice as fun as the Sportwagen and there’s no comparison to the Escape or Hyundai. I drive the Hyundai to and from work because for a month I haven’t had to go to a gas station. I use my solar panels and the work charger. If I have to run errands after work, drive to another town, go buy beer or hit the airport, I’ll take the Ford Escape because 400 miles to a tank is just more convenient. It’s also the vehicle I use for trash runs and hardware store runs. 

Would I buy another Hyundai? Probably not. Would I buy another EV? Sure if I can get it with 400 miles of range and something more utilitarian that can actually be used for trash runs and hauling a dirt bike and those cars are all too expensive. It’d have to be fast as well because I can’t really continue to own 3 vehicles like I do now. The Escape + Golf + Ioniq is pretty unsustainable. I wish it weren’t but keeping track of insurance and registrations is getting old. There’s also just maintaining 3 motors (2 combustion, one AC). 

I think the Ioniq will be great for the term of the lease then I’ll gladly give it back. Economy cars don’t really speak to me. If I could have gotten an i3 for 99 a month, I would have done that instead especially the range-extender variant with a 1liter motor that kicks in when your battery runs out.

I hope this helped people who were thinking of buying one of these and I hope they don’t buy one. Lease for $79 a month and enjoy it for what it is…and convince your work to install a charging station for free and boom, this thing’s gas savings will add up to make the car completely free. Here are some photos.

My 2019 Hyundai Ioniq and Volkswagen Golf R
My 2019 Hyundai Ioniq and Volkswagen Golf R
My 2019 Hyundai Ioniq and Volkswagen Golf R
My 2019 Hyundai Ioniq and Volkswagen Golf R
My 2019 Hyundai Ioniq and Volkswagen Golf R