Presenting Car and Driver’s 2023 EV of the Year

Presenting Car and Driver's 2023 EV of the Year

We’re back again. After putting all of this year’s new EVs through a week of close inspection, hard driving, and long charge times, a Hyundai came out on top. The Ioniq 5 won last year, and this year its new sedan sister, the Ioniq 6, does the same thing and wins. The Genesis Electrified GV70 and the Kia EV6 GT also did very well, which helps paint a picture: the Hyundai-Kia-Genesis group is definitely ahead when it comes to EVs that play in the broad main market.

There are a lot of similarities between the Ioniq 6 and the Ioniq 5. This is good for it, but the new model does more than just add a third box to the same base and raise the model number by one. We told people who got the Ioniq 5 to “just look at it,” and we could do the same with the Ioniq 6.

The designs of the two brothers are very different, but the banana-shaped sedan is just as eye-catching as the sharp hatchback. From the side, it looks a bit like the first-generation Mercedes CLS. Hyundai says the Ioniq 6 was based on the obscure Stout Scarab from the 1930s. Even though the two machines were made almost 100 years apart, the idea wasn’t made up by the makers when you see pictures of them.

It’s not clear if Hyundai’s designers got the idea for the shape from a four-door “coupe” from the turn of the century, a proto-minivan from the Streamline Moderne era, or some kind of crazy dream. The Ioniq 6 has a slip-through-the-air drag coefficient as low as 0.22. We also like it because it’s nice to see a car make an EV sedan instead of another mid-size crossover. The Polestar 2 and Tesla Model 3 are two other examples.

Hyundai’s E-GMP technology continues to shine below. You can get this car with either one rear-mounted motor that makes 149 or 225 horsepower (depending on the battery size) and 258 pound-feet of torque, or you can get it with two motors that work together to make 320 horsepower and 446 pound-feet of torque. A 77.4-kWh battery pack comes with most of them. Our EV of the Year test car, a Limited with two motors, got 220 miles on the highway and the EPA says it can go 270 miles.

From there, range forecasts get even better. This year, Hyundai shocked everyone by revealing that the single-motor Limited could go 305 miles, the dual-motor SE with 18-inch wheels instead of the fancier 20s could go 316 miles, and the single-motor SE could go 361 miles (though we only saw 260 miles in our highway test). That version also gets 140 MPGe overall, which is better than the 132 MPGe that the rear-drive Tesla Model 3 gets. (The EPA test shows that an entry-level model with a smaller 53.0-kWh battery pack has a range of 240 miles.)

When the Ioniq 6’s electrons run out, its 800-volt design lets it be charged at up to 235 kilowatts, which is one of the fastest charge times we’ve seen from a popular EV.

The dual-motor version can reach 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, which is pretty fast. However, the way the pedal is mapped makes it feel less sporty than some other dual-motor EVs, like the EV6 GT. The 225-hp single-motor version needs 6.2 seconds to do the same run. Its solid structure doesn’t move, which gives the Ioniq 6 real stability on the bumpy roads in the most difficult parts of our test run. The ride is tight and well-damped, and the car stays flat and stable when it turns. Hyundai has also conquered the “whoa” with good feel in the brake pedal and easy customization of lift-off regen through paddles on the steering wheel, with the option of none at all.

While no one else has really nailed the EV music, we can’t say that Hyundai has. Of course, this is a matter of taste, and you can choose any spacey background music you want, but we were glad to turn off the noisemaker. This lets the Ioniq 6 show off how well it blocks out noise.

At this price, don’t expect high-end interior materials, but the design is creative, especially the door panels that are very smooth. Even with the seat cushion set low, the sloped roofline cuts into space in the back. Hyundai didn’t have to completely redesign its entertainment system to make it work with electric power, and the switchgear doesn’t look different just because it’s different. Lots of storage space in the center makes it even easier to live in. But the trunk is really small, just like you thought. Plus, the trunk doesn’t offer much in return—that room is only good for a few notebooks.

The Ioniq 6 is a great electric car that we also want to drive. This well-tuned EV doesn’t make many mistakes and puts Hyundai’s E-GMP platform in the lead. Once more.

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