Hyundai Motor Company (including Kia and Genesis) will soon be the number two selling electric vehicle automaker in America, trailing only Tesla. This week’s Ioniq5 compact crossover clearly demonstrates why.

Slightly lower, slightly wider, and riding on a longer wheelbase than the company’s best-selling Tucson, the Ioniq5 is a smash hit for Hyundai because it is quiet, rides and drives very well, and is stocked with the features and content that buyers now crave. And, oh yes, it doesn’t burn any gasoline.

Visually, the Ioniq makes a distinct statement. It is sleek, yet masculine. It is bold, yet refined. It is smart, but affordable. The lever-style door handles rise to greet you, and then retracts underway or when locked. Access is like a compact crossover — easy to glide in or out.

The chassis is essentially the lithium-ion battery pack — hence the longer 118-inch wheelbase, which improves handling and ride. Suspension is fully independent at each corner, while our dual-motor AWD Limited uses a 74-kilowatt electric motor up front along with a 165-kilowatt motor in the rear. Total output equals 320 horsepower — enough power to create a giant push in the back when you exercise the throttle connected to the single speed reduction gear. With essentially one-pedal operation — there is little coasting — the Hyundai requires some driver reorienting. However, you jump forward with enthusiasm — and with acceleration that matches my Mustang GT.

The Ioniq5’s interior Tim Plouff

The cabin seems austere at first, all function, until you explore your environmentally sensitive materials and the various functions on the large dual operating screens. Then it is readily apparent that the Ioniq5 is a seriously modern car layered with technology and none of the idiosyncrasies of previous alternative vehicle experiments. Looking at you, Prius.

Try out the programmable augmented reality heads-up display, the semi-autonomous drive modes (called Highway Driver Assist 2), or the parking assist function — with you not even in the Ioniq5. The “shifter” is a twist knob on a steering column stalk. Of course, there is SmartCruise, navigation, the newest cell-phone functionality, heated and cooled seating with memory, plus a massive sunroof and power liftgate. The space is expansive, front and rear, making this EV all the size that most drivers will ever need. Include the optional HTRAC AWD, rear-drive is standard, and the Ioniq5 is also all-season ready. It can even tow up to 2,300 pounds.

 

The Ioniq5’s heads-up display. Tim Plouff

Other than a front trunk — the frunk — that used to be where your engine was, the Hyundai’s compartment is still a

functionally full bay with barely space for a large lunch. That was the only disappointment in a car that impresses each time you use it. Even the jaded gasoline-fueled enthusiasts at Car & Driver picked the Ioniq5 as their EV of the Year.

Now the numbers.

Pricing starts at $41,245 for single-motor, rear-drive models with 168 horsepower and 220 miles of electric driving range. A mid-level rear drive model with a long-range 225-horsepower battery pack can travel up to 303 miles for under $50,000. Our top Limited model, with 320-horsepower dual-motor and AWD, is rated for up to 266 miles for $56,320, and that includes $595 for the Atlas White paint and floor mats.

Hyundai employs 800-volt batteries that are among the fastest EV batteries currently available for Level III charging — 10% range to 80% replenishment only takes 18 minutes, with 350-kilowatt DC fast charging that rivals EV’s costing three times as much.

The caveat: the dire shortage of fast charging Level III chargers anywhere. Most commercial or public space chargers are Level I units, which are practically irrelevant for a vehicle like the Ioniq5—15 hours charging at home on regular 110-current (which is Level I) only added 42 miles of range. If you commute 24 miles a day, like a round-trip to Ellsworth, the Ioniq uses only 6% of its range.

After arriving home with the Ioniq5 on day one, I had 20% range left — approximately 52 miles. The on-board screen announced that it would take 59 hours to reach 100% charge on my current electric supply. Range anxiety on the highway was simply unavoidable — a feeling that prolonged exposure and use would help erase. But the faster you go, the more quickly the range drops, so you become very conscious of your speed. Three separate readouts inform you of your efficiency.

Level II charging, which is still rare in many places around the country — and preferable for homeowners who drive long distances daily — would be the bare necessity for re-charging this sophisticated machine.

The Kia EV6 is comparable, while a larger Ioniq6 crossover is coming soon. A Genesis model EV arrives any day.

Game changer? Yes, the Ioniq5 will re-shape the segment — as well as how many of us travel. Is an EV for everyone? Not yet — there are way too many issues with re-charging for the masses at the scale of use proposed. Yet, the Ioniq5 is an innovative statement, and it is very good.

Tim Plouff has been reviewing automobiles for more than 20 years.