Shopping for a PHEV. Volt or Ioniq?
February 20, 2018 8:07 PM   Subscribe

The Chevy Volt has an electric-only range of 53 miles. The Hyundai Ioniq has an electric-only range of 29 miles but better hybrid/gas mileage and is cheaper. Thoughts? Thanks.
posted by Mitchla to Technology (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What metrics are you using to purchase a car? This is an absurdly under-specified question.


The Volt is ugly and the Ioniq is not.
posted by saeculorum at 8:13 PM on February 20, 2018

Response by poster: Well I thought I might get some subjective responses like "I have a _____ and I like it except for ______."
posted by Mitchla at 8:21 PM on February 20, 2018

I guess the big question is, how often do you drive more than 29 miles in a day?
posted by advicepig at 8:22 PM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Ioniq looks better than the Volt but the Corolla hybrid looks better than both.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:22 PM on February 20, 2018

Do you live somewhere cold? No electric gets its stated milage in the cold. So not only how often do you drive more than X miles in a day, but if you do have a commute, do you have a charging option there? Will you be able to put in a Level 2 charging station at home?

I adore my new-to-me Gen 1 Volt, but visibility is rough going around certain corners because of the way the windshield is angled combined with my height (short.)
posted by cobaltnine at 8:28 PM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

My friends drive a previous-generation Volt and like it a lot.

If I were in the market for an electric car, whether it had a gas engine or not, I would buy a used Volt—you can find a low-mileage example for $15-17,000 even when you're looking on Carmax, not known for its great deals.
posted by Polycarp at 8:29 PM on February 20, 2018

Do you live somewhere cold? No electric gets its stated milage in the cold.

As an example: I have a Outlander PHEV. Stated EV mileage is 32. In the summer (low/mid twenties C), it usually gets 25-28 miles on electric. In the winter (0 - 10C), 16-18 miles. In both cases, if the AC/heater is on, the mileage drops by 20-30%.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:18 AM on February 21, 2018

To choose between the Volt and the Ioniq I'd ask:
How far is your usual day-to-day driving (school run/commute/etc)? How often do you go for longer trips (60+ miles)?
If your day-to-day driving is 20-25 miles, get the Ioniq.
If your day-to-day driving is 25-50 miles and you don't do longer trips very often (less than once a month), get the Volt. If you do longer trips regularly (couple of times a month or more), get the Ioniq.
A longer EV range is attractive but the more petrol driving you'll be doing, the more the better petrol MPG is important. The difference in petrol cost adds up quickly, and the higher fuel MPG is better value in the long run.

This is all assuming you can get a full charge at home or work every day (if you can't, getting a PHEV is of questionable value, and I'd definitely get the Ioniq).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:11 AM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

In our household there are two drivers (three people and a dog in total), so we tried to split functions between two cars. To that end, we bought a 2015 Nissan Leaf a year ago and then a 2016 Hyundai Sonata last Fall. These replaced a 2003 Mazda Protege5 and a 2005 Mini Cooper.

The Leaf is all-electric. We bought it from CarMax. We use it for all in-town errands, plus my wife drives it on her commute, which is 6 miles roundtrip. We actually charge it from a regular household outlet. It has a typical range of 80 miles, although that can go up to 90 in the Summer. We live in Charlotte, North Carolina, so we don't face prolonged cold periods. Given the range, we can also drive it when we need to go to the suburbs. We absolutely love it!

The Sonata is the base model, non-hybrid. We use it for any long trips, such as to the beach or to relatives. I also use it for my commute, which is 18 miles roundtrip. It averages 33 mpg combined in my driving, with smooth highway trips returning about 41/42 mpg. I try to practice the best granny driving I can to maximize its efficiency, so I accelerate slowly and consider the stoplight timing on my commute and try not to accelerate toward lights that I know will just be red when I get there. In the Sonata, that easily adds 3-4 mpg to my city driving. Since we had the Leaf already, we felt comfortable stepping up from the Hyundai Elantra to the Hyundai Sonata, since the mpg difference was fairly small, about 2-3 mpg. We like the Sonata quite a bit, too.

We would have considered the Ioniq, but we were only buying used.
posted by Slothrop at 3:57 AM on February 21, 2018

The current generation Volt looks better than the Ioniq, imho. The Volt is a nicer car. Chevrolet has been building the Volt since 2010 (first generation, second generation since 2015). Chevrolet put a lot of resources into this car and did a very good job conceptualizing and executing the vehicle. In the last 10-15 years GM has really turned around on build quality - we know them based on the garbage they built in the 80's and 90's but they now build to a far higher (global) standard.

The Volt runs solely on electric power. The gasoline engine is a charger for the battery. It never directly powers the wheels. The Ioniq will use the electric motor until the battery discharges, then use the gasoline engine to drive the wheels (as does the Prius).

The Ioniq is Hyundai's first hybrid. And not only is complex due to it a hybrid, but the gasoline engine it is mated to is itself very complex. I think Hyundai build decent cars, but I would not buy their first attempt at a hybrid drivetrain. Does the Hyundai come with an extra long term warranty? They've been on the market for at least a year, and I've only seen a couple of them. I see more Chevy Bolts. I'd be hesitant to buy an Ioniq.

If your lifestyle would support electric-only, you can get jaw-dropping deals on slightly used Nissan Leafs and Chevy Sparks (between these I would go for the Leaf - the Spark is a neat car but they didn't sell enough of them; the Leaf has a large enthusiastic owner community).

Why not get the Prius Prime (other than the fact that it's ugly AF)?
posted by everythings_interrelated at 4:24 AM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

So it's probably worth a reminder that the Volt is different from all* the other PHEVs in the market in that it won't start the gas engine while the battery has sufficient capacity for EV operation, even if you floor it, or the defroster is on. This means it's actually realistically an EV in most cases. The Ioniq, for instance, has about 60 HP in electric mode per the spec sheet, which means if you want to accelerate to highway speeds the engine is almost certainly going to turn on. The Volt forces the engine on at very low temperatures for supplemental heat, but that's just about it.

I get 40ish miles in the winter with the heat at reasonable levels, and 60+ in the summer, with my 2017. The engine turning on in my Volt is rare enough that it kind of annoys me when it does, as it's quite a bit more buzzy than the electric motors and I'm used to the quiet.

I don't think I'd consider the Ioniq due to the limited electric capability and the fact it retains a conventional transmission. The Honda Clarity, which has a drivetrain more like the Volt and "47" miles of range, would be a better alternative.

* I believe the Prius Prime has a mode where you can force it to keep the engine off, but then it goes from being a slightly underpowered car with 120 HP to a really underpowered car with 90 HP. The Honda Clarity, another partial exception, at least has 120 hp in electric, and a detent in the accelerator that you have to punch past in order to fire the gas engine in "Eco" mode, so it'd be easier to drive it like an EV if that's your thing.
posted by doomsey at 5:31 AM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

It never directly powers the wheels.

That is something GM said early in the development cycle, but they later figured out that in some limited conditions like higher-speed highway driving, that it was more efficient to have the engine provide direct power to the wheels. It still uses the electric motor as a driveshaft, but if you’re going over 60 and the engine is on, that motor is likely freewheeling.

I adore my 1st Gen Volt. The interior build quality is phenomenal.
posted by hwyengr at 5:39 AM on February 21, 2018

I had a Volt and I loved it. It was super fun to drive and would accelerate like a demon. I live in a snowy place though, and it isn't good for that. The interior was comfortable and well designed. If GM makes a 4 wheel, I will be the first in line.
posted by chocolatetiara at 5:40 AM on February 21, 2018

Response by poster: This is all very good information -- thank you so much. One element introduced here is cold, which I knew would be impactful but not to the extent many are indicating here. I live in Ohio, so yes, cold. My commute is 12 miles R/T. There's no place to charge at work. At home when there's snow on the ground I won't be able to get the car to the charger, so there could be a few weeks when I have to stay gas only. I would guess that for 9 months of the year, I'd be fine commuting on a charge in an Ioniq, and for the other 3 months there would be a lot of gas involvement. I don't do that many longer trips. Thanks, all, again.
posted by Mitchla at 5:48 AM on February 21, 2018

My 2017 is reasonably well behaved in snow. It feels very planted as it is heavy and the weight is down low. However, with a very torquey and off-center drive train, whoa torque steer - when starting out on a slick patch it really wants to head into the curb.
posted by doomsey at 5:54 AM on February 21, 2018

Response by poster: My 2017 is reasonably well behaved in snow.

In the snow though it will be impossible for me to get to the charger, down a sloped, gravel/unshovelable driveway.
posted by Mitchla at 6:13 AM on February 21, 2018

In the snow though it will be impossible for me to get to the charger, down a sloped, gravel/unshovelable driveway.

Indeed! Low ground clearance too - it wouldn't make it up a driveway like that.
posted by doomsey at 6:31 AM on February 21, 2018

The low clearance on the Volt has been less of a concern than I thought, at least this New England winter. The tires make all the difference.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:42 AM on February 21, 2018

Here's a pretty negative experience with the Ioniq, problems specifically seem to be cold-weather-related: Link
posted by soylent00FF00 at 6:17 PM on February 21, 2018

Oh dear god THE VOLT. It's already well into its second generation and is mature and just f---ing works. The gas mileage number doesn't matter as much as the EV-only range.

The Ioniq is brand brand new and likely full of problems. See also the comment just above mine.

If you do ignore my advice and get the Ioniq anyway, PLEASE do a lease, not a purchase.

Credentials: I'm an EV expert, was one of the first Volt owners in the country (Dec 2010) and am on my fourth EV now. They are a blast!
posted by intermod at 6:56 PM on February 22, 2018

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