Well, would you look at that! A new review for Aubernon Highway! And it’s an EV?!
It sure is. This isn’t my first time reviewing an EV — that honor went to SlashGear earlier this year when I took the 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 5 on a round-trip through North Carolina — but this is the Highway‘s first time with an EV. So, let’s have a look at the newest member of the growing IONIQ family, the 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6 in its top-tier Limited trim, during the week it spent with me down in my Old Dominion home.
Who is this Korean EV sedan for?
Ask most people who they most think of when you ask them about EVs, and you’ll hear Tesla’s name echo off the urban canyon walls. Though that particular company did own the space over a decade ago, in 2023, the Great Electrification is truly underway as nearly every company is working on and/or selling an EV or two among the rest of their offerings.
Among them, of course, is Hyundai, who first introduced the IONIQ as a single model with hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full EV configurations in January of 2016 for the 2017 model year. Though 325,000 copies ultimately made it to driveways around the globe between 2016 and 2022, limited availability in the United States meant only just over 60,000 copies found our interstate highways and charging stations over the same period.
As with the Genesis name, so Hyundai has done with the IONIQ name: spin-off into its own thing. In this instance, it’s a sub-brand comprised of the IONIQ 5 five-door hatchback, the IONIQ 6 midsize sedan, and the upcoming IONIQ 7 midsize crossover. So, who is the IONIQ 6 for, then?
- Those who want an EV sedan without the Tesla baggage
- Hyundai fans who are ready to jump into an EV for the first time
- Those looking for a ride with styling that stands out everywhere
Charging headlong into the future
For the 2023 model year, the Hyundai IONIQ 6 could be had in one of four trim levels: SE Standard Range, SE, SEL and Limited; the SE Standard Range is currently missing from the team for 2024, but Hyundai says it should arrive soon. The SE Standard Range came with one powertrain: a 111-kW single-motor unit linked to a 53-kWh lithium-ion battery capable of delivering 149 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque to the rear. The remainder of the range — including the Limited featured in this review — could be configured with either rear- or all-wheel drive powertrains. The former delivered 225 horses and 258 lb-ft of torque to the back, the latter brought 320 horses and 446 lb-ft of torque to all corners. All trims feature a single-gear reduction transmission for moving the power around.
As far as range goes, the SE Standard Range can go for up to 240 miles on a single charge. The rear-driven SE, SEL and Limited models are EPA-rated for up to 361 miles of silent running on the highways and high streets, while the all-wheel drive versions — like my Limited Long Range model — tops out at 270 miles. Let’s just say that if I took this specific sedan down to North Carolina, I still would have needed to stop in Bristol, Virginia for a recharge on both ends of the round-trip.
Minimalism mixed with the colors of technology
Step inside the 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6, and you’ll be greeted with a minimalist interior featuring a two-screen dashboard as its centerpiece. Each screen is 12.3 inches long, with one focused on digital instrumentation, the other serving as the touchscreen infotainment center. Said infotainment center includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a 90-day trial of SiriusXM satellite radio, but no wireless CarPlay/Auto for you to leave the USB cable behind.
Behind the wheel, the driver has access to four drive modes (each with their own four-light color indicators on the steering wheel hub), ranging from Eco for making the most of the IONIQ 6’s range to Sport for blasting past all of the traffic on the highway. Rain-sensing wipers keep your view of the road clear no matter the weather, while adaptive cruise control assures you won’t run up on the big rig in front of you, giving you plenty of time to shift over to the left and engage Sport mode to pass. Other features include blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, driver-alertness monitoring, and rear cross-traffic accident avoidance.
Due to the packaging of the EV technology in the 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6, the interior is more open than most vehicles. One place in particular is the center console, which has open storage for your purse or whatever you need to store there. The rear 60/40-split bench is lounge-like, including Hyundai’s V2L (Vehicle-2-Load) outlet for plugging in laptops to work on the go in comfort while the driver ferries one and all to their final destinations. The front occupants can enjoy extra warmth or cooling thanks to the heated and ventilated seats, plus the heated steering wheel for those really chilly days and nights. All seats can be had in black or gray, depending on trim level. Finally, the wide sunroof lets in all of the sun and blue skies as you fill the air in total silence.
What the Hyundai IONIQ 6 costs:
- The 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6 started at $41,600 for the SE Standard Range, $45,500 for the SE, $47,700 for the SEL, and $52,600 for the Limited
- As-tested with the optional HTRAC all-wheel drive system ($3,500) and carpeted floor mats ($210), the 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6 Limited Long Range AWD comes out to $57,425 including shipping and handling
- The 2024 Hyundai IONIQ SE with standard rear-drive, dual 12.3-inch screens, auto-retracting flush door handles, and leather-wrapped steering wheel starts at $42,450
- The 2024 Hyundai IONIQ SEL with Hyundai Digital Key 2 Touch and 20-inch alloy wheels starts at $45,250
- The 2024 Hyundai IONIQ Limited with power folding mirrors, wireless charging, and wide sunroof starts at $50,150
- Serenity White ($450) and Gravity Gold Matte ($1,000) are the only colors that have a price tag among the seven colors available for the 2024 Hyundai IONIQ 6
- Options include outside V2L adapter ($220), wheel locks ($70), mudguard ($120), and charging port applique ($60)
Living with the 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6
If the Hyundai IONIQ 5 recalls hatchbacks of the 1970s and 1980s, the IONIQ 6 translates the bustleback styling of the same time period for the New ’20s. The teardrop shape looks out of this world, especially in black with the 20-inch alloys. The retro-future looks are just one part of the experience this EV sedan holds, though. Planting the power down is a joy to experience in Normal and (especially) Sport modes, with both electric motors slamming their instantaneous torque into your stomach and (unfortunately for my mom) neck as you woosh away past everyone as soon as the light turns green; Eco mode is more chill with the power, since its job is to conserve. The interior wasn’t a bad place to be, either, especially during the colder mornings while taking Mom to work; doing so in silence was an added bonus for Mom.
Alas, unlike most vehicles to visit my driveway — as well as my own 1997 Toyota RAV4 — keeping the IONIQ 6 fueled-up requires a bit of planning. For starters, I have no ability to charge at home, which is the expected use case for most EV owners in regard to charging. Instead, I must head north into Blacksburg to use one of the four EVgo 50-kW charging stations to charge back up to 100%. According to Hyundai, the sedan can charge from 10% to 80% in 18 minutes on a 350-kW Level 3 charger, such as those offered by Electrify America; Hyundai IONIQ owners receive two years of 30-minute complementary charging on the company’s nationwide network. For me with the EVgo station at around 50%, it took the entire hour alloted to get it to 100%. Not to mention the EVgo app failing to notify me of how much charge was going into the battery during the charging, something that didn’t happen when I had the IONIQ 5.
2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6 verdict
Over a decade ago, the only player in the EV game was Tesla. Today, Hyundai is among many ready to take up where one man’s ego is leaving off, forging a path of retro-futurism with its IONIQ line, one set to grow with the upcoming IONIQ 5 N, the first performance model in the lineup. If I were in the market for an EV, I would definitely consider the IONIQ 6 for the short list based on its looks and performance alone.
However, the electrified, cobalt-blue future is a future still in its first draft. Outside of Tesla’s own Supercharger network, the state of EV infrastructure in the United States is not as prevalent as that of your nearest gas station. Not to mention how long it takes to charge batteries, and the technology behind the current crop of battery packs themselves, including chemical composition. Throw in new policies concerning where batteries are made and materials are sourced, adoption rates not being as high as hoped, reliability issues coming into view from EV owners, and there’s a lot of work ahead to make this future the reality everyone dreams of.
All the best to those involved.
Photos: Cameron Aubernon/Aubernon Highway