The NMA Foundation presents another Car Family Review, which is featured every month or so on the NMA blog.
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With average commuting times in the 45-minute range and traffic getting worse perhaps it is time to consider a hybrid sedan that offers between 55 and 70 plus miles per gallon. The Car Family selected two of the highest rated hybrid sedans for quality and fuel mileage, the Prius Prime, and the Hyundai Ioniq.
Hyundai’s Ioniq is a traditional hybrid with a battery pack helping the engine when needed at low speeds. The Toyota Prime is a plug-in hybrid which uses two battery packs. One is for electric only power for around 25 miles when the main battery pack takes over and helps the gasoline engine as needed. The Ioniq is rated at 58 mpg and the Toyota can top 70 mpg.
The joy of the Prime is threefold. First, you may get both state and federal checks and/or tax credits and the Prime also qualifies you for the high occupancy lane sticker, which is priceless some days.
These cars are perfect for commuter or trips, and both can go over 500 miles between refueling. The average gas mileage of all cars sold in America is about 25 mpg which means that these hybrids can easily cut your fuel budget in half while still providing convenience and a range of safety features.
So the big question is, if hybrids are so good, why aren’t they popular? The answer isn’t simple. It could be bad information, the difficulty in breaking habits, not enough room for six, or fear of change. Regardless, the best way is to test drive one yourself. The Hyundai dash and driving experience are more closely related to a regular car. The Prime takes more time to get used to but is easy to master.
The Prime exterior is very dramatic while the Ioniq more mundane. Seating in both hybrids was adequate, but certainly not in the luxury category. Parking is a snap, and the rear hatches easy to open; however, the Prime did not have nearly as much cargo space as the Ionig due to the location of Toyota’s battery pack.
The Toyota has room for four passengers and the Hyundai five. Within minutes, I was right at home with both cars. The Hyundai has a more typical cockpit feel while the Prius has the instrument cluster in the center of the dash.
The Prius Prime has Toyota Safety Sense which includes pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, radar cruise control and rearview camera. The Ioniq with the Ultimate Package has the same capabilities. The Hyundai interior is quite simple and familiar.
The Prime requires some adjustments from the short shifting knob to the center-mounted instrument cluster. I like either hybrid and with rebates, they are both attractive buys and lease rates are favorable.
These vehicles have instant torque that makes on-ramp and passing situations less stressful. Consumer Reports and JD Powers rate these models highly in terms of quality. Ride feel is very good and the steering inspires confidence. The stop-start feature is seamless and the regenerating brakes have a solid feel.
The cars get up to 60 mph in about ten seconds and both handle extremely well. The big difference is that Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive uses an electric continuously variable transmission formula while the Hyundai has a six-speed dual clutch automatic that delivers a more normal driving feel.
Young Man’s Viewpoint
The Prime is loaded with technology. You get a large 11.6-inch display compatible with Siri Eyes-Free.
Toyota’s Entune App Suite offers Pandora, traffic, and weather while the Ioniq hybrid with the Ultimate package has an 8-inch touch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and Hyundai’s Blue Link.
The Prius Prime Advanced comes with Prime Apps, which can manage your charging status, locate a charging station, change the interior temperature, and locate your vehicle. Hyundai’s Blue Link basically does all that Prime Apps could do as well as integrate with Amazon Alexa, Apple Watch and Android Wear watches. Both cars have wireless charging for your phone.
Voice recognition is so-so in the Ioniq.
Young Working Woman’s Viewpoint
If you plug in the Prime you can expect between 20 and 25 battery powered miles while the Hyundai does not have the extra battery. The trade-off is in the price as the Ioniq starts in the low $20,000s and the Prime in the $30,000 range.
Is it worth the extra money for the high occupancy lane, government rebates, and better mileage? Well, for 909 readers that decision requires some serious math time. Since I do not have access to an outlet where I could plug in the Prime, the Ioniq would be the best choice. However, if I did the Toyota would be my winner.
Hyundai is bringing out a plug-in hybrid to challenge the Prius Prime but as of now the hybrid is the most efficient family vehicle they offer. The warranty on the Hyundai is excellent with a lifetime promise whereas the Toyota is more limited.
Pricing is also in the Hyundai’s court costing nearly $10,000 less. However, the Prius Prime is essentially loaded and the base Hyundai needs several options to be competitive.
The bottom line is that the Prius Prime is best if you have a place to plug it in and can afford the extra cost. Otherwise, the Hyundai is a good choice with excellent cargo space and is more responsive on the open road. Either way, you are going to be visiting gasoline stations much less with a fill-up yielding over 500 miles or more from their 11 gallon tanks.
For more reviews go to Car Family Car Reviews
Photo courtesy of Caricos
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The NMA Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting your interests as a motorist and citizen through the multi-faceted approach of research, education, and litigation. The Foundation is able to offer this assistance through tax-deductible contributions.