Test Drove Niro and Ioniq Today
The local Hyundai dealer finally got a white Ioniq SEL in today. The Kia dealer next door has had an LX and EX Niro in for several weeks. I wanted to drive the Niro LX, which is more comparable in price and features to the Ioniq SEL, but it was away on mall duty, so I drove the Niro EX instead.
I saw the Ioniq first. My first impression was that it was more attractive in person than in the photos. The Niro, in contrast, was much uglier in person. The interior of the Ioniq SEL was cheaper looking and less detailed than the Niro EX or LX. Missing from the Ioniq was the compartmentalized tray under the cargo floor that leveled the cargo floor with the rear seats when folded forward. This made the Ioniq look even cheaper. I found the seating position in the Ioniq very comfortable with fairly good under-thigh support for my 6'3" height and 36" inseam. The Niro was even better in this respect with slightly better ingress/egress and my feet were more beneath me in the Niro. The straight backward view was OK in both Niro and Ioniq but rear 3/4 quadrant visibility was very poor in the Ioniq. Overall, the Niro had somewhat better visibility and driver comfort than the Ioniq. Front-seat headroom was good in both, rear-seat headroom was substantially better in the Niro, of course.
Underway in the Ioniq, the overwhelming impression I had was sluggishness. Throttle response was terrible and I just couldn't get the car to move even though I was using quite a bit of throttle. The Ioniq is the slowest, most unresponsive car I have ever driven. It was much more gutless than my sister's hybrid Sonata. On the other hand, after my 15-minute test drive, which included a short 55mph stretch and mostly around-town roads, I finished with 74 mpg which I am very pleased with.
I test drove the Niro immediately afterward. It did not feel as sluggish as the Ioniq, but it was pretty gutless nonetheless. I may have been more acclimated to the drive train after the Ioniq drive. The Niro felt like a much shorter car than the Ioniq. It is only 5" shorter but it felt more like 2 feet shorter. I liked the driving feel of the Niro a lot. I drove the same route as the Ioniq and I tried hard to determine if the engine ran more or less often in the Niro vs the Ioniq, but I was unable. Chalk it up to my inexperience with the gauges. I finished the route with 62mpg in the Niro. The salesman insisted on having the AC blowing like a hurricane in the Niro so it wasn't quite an apples-to-apples comparison. I was very pleased with my FE in both and I was just driving normally--no special hypermiling techniques.
The biggest surprise in my test drive was that I liked the gauges much more in the Niro. They were brighter, more attractive, and easier to read than the Ioniq. The photos that I had seen indicated otherwise. I did like that I could pop the gear shift lever over and see a tach in the Ioniq. There is no such feature in the Niro.
Conclusion: Before the drive I felt that the Niro and Ioniq were about equal and that I could be happy with either. After the drive--I have the same feeling.