Electric for Life

By Derek Price

I was determined to give the Hyundai Ioniq 5 the toughest real-world test I’d ever done in an electric car.
With my cousin in town for the weekend, I’d lined up a whole series of events — concerts, museums, hiking, meals and more — with a tight schedule over three days, and I wanted to do it all using electrons, not gasoline, as my power source.
Driving all over the Dallas metro area meant we’d be racking up hundreds of miles in the Ioniq 5, Hyundai’s new electric crossover vehicle with futuristic looks and family-friendly versatility. The route would drastically exceed my tester’s EPA-estimated range of 256 miles, which could be a challenge considering I don’t even have a 220-volt fast charger at home.
The Ioniq 5 had an ace up its sleeve, though: the ability to charge using ultra-fast, 350-kilowatt charging stations if I could find them.
There are only a handful of chargers capable of delivering that level of juice in my area, which is understandable considering there are only a handful of cars for sale today capable of using them.
Hyundai claims those ultra-fast chargers can fill the Ioniq 5’s battery from 10 percent to 80 percent in only 18 minutes. In my real-world test, admittedly with the heater running on a frigid day to keep the cabin comfortable, the Electrify America charger I used took it from 20 percent to 80 percent in 32 minutes.

Hyundai’s new battery-powered SUV, the Ioniq 5, can travel up to 303 miles on a full charge in its extended-range version. It also utilizes ultra-fast, 350-kW charging stations to keep a packed schedule on track.

I kept it charging another 25 minutes at a slower rate to completely top it off. It cost $19.87 in total for less than an hour of ultra-fast charging — very expensive by electricity standards, but worth it to keep my schedule on track. Electrify America’s ion pumps worked as promised, keeping the car going all over town before I could slowly charge it up back home.
The slower, far-more-common Level 2 chargers that are widely available did a good job supplementing the range as needed, often for free or for a few pennies.
I wondered, though, whether I’d like this car as much if the weather was 110 degrees outside. Long walks from the charging points to my destinations aren’t so bad when you’re bundled up on a chilly day. Doing the same thing in the middle of a typical Texas August could make me absolutely hate electric cars.
The Ioniq 5 itself looks like a conventional crossover, albeit a space-age one. Sharp creases, wrap-around headlights and a recurring motif of square grids on the taillights and stamped into the interior give this conventional liftback, four-door crossover a bit of a Star Trek vibe.
My tester, the dual-motor version with all-wheel drive, took off from stoplights like a rocketship. The sensation of being launched from a slingshot, with virtually no noise at all, is surreal when you mash the pedal to the floor.
Despite the EPA’s rating of 256 miles of range, my real-world figure was closer to 200 miles when fully charged. I’m not sure if that’s because of cold weather or this car’s history of being flogged by journalist after journalist, but it never estimated anywhere close to the promised range.

The Ioniq 5’s interior is inspired by nature, using colors from the natural world and Earth-friendly materials that complement its high-tech vibe.

The question I often get asked, of course, is whether I’d buy an electric car. My answer is even more unequivocal after seeing what the Ioniq 5 can do with ultra-fast chargers: yes, but only if I had a gasoline car for road trips. I spend too much time traveling for it to work for 100 percent of my driving.
For 95 percent of where I go, though — including when there’s a packed agenda with little time for range anxiety — an electric car can do the job. The range, space, comfort and economy in the Ioniq 5 make that even more appealing.
Pricing starts at $39,700 for the SE with standard range of 220 miles and a 125-kW motor. You can get up to 303 miles of rated range with the upgraded 168-kW motor starting at $43,650. Finally, the all-wheel-drive version I tested comes with two electric motors, 74 and 165 kW, that offer fantastic acceleration and a range of 256 miles starting at $47,150.
All prices are before any federal or state tax credits.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 Limited AWD ($54,500). Options: Carpeted floor mats ($195).  Price as tested (including $1,225 destination charge): $55,920
Wheelbase: 118.1 in.
Length: 182.5 in.
Width: 74.4 in.
Height: 63 in.
Powertrain: Dual electric motors (320 combined horsepower)
Transmission: Single speed reduction gear
Fuel economy: 110 MPGe city, 87 highway

Style: 9
Performance: 8
Price: 10
Handling: 6
Ride: 7
Comfort: 8
Quality: 8
Overall: 9

Why buy it?
With space, comfort, range and ultra-fast charging capability, the Ioniq 5 is a great EV for everyday life. It’s strong competition for the few pricey, luxury-brand electric SUVs on the market today.

Posted in Hyundai

Traveling With a Corolla

By Derek Price

I’ve made enough trips to the Ozark Mountains to know this area can be refreshing to the soul.
This time, though, it wasn’t in a sports car to take advantage of the winding, scenic Northwest Arkansas roads. Nor was it in an off-road truck that can claw its way into remote hiking spots.
I took the trip in a hybrid version of the 2022 Toyota Corolla.
I’ve never thought of the plucky, affordable Corolla as a great traveling car, but this rural mountain trip did a lot to change my mind.
For one thing, the Corolla’s soft, squishy ride that the sports-car-loving snob in me loves to criticize actually works remarkably well for long highway stints. It isn’t luxury-car smooth, but it comes close — especially for the money.
Following that same theme, it’s also packed with features that don’t break the bank.
Every single Corolla, including the cheapest base trim, is equipped with radar cruise control and lane tracing assist that make the car feel almost like it’s driving itself. It also comes standard with automatic high beams, the ability to read road signs and sensors that can detect pedestrians and avoid potential wrecks.

The 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is rated for 53 mpg in city driving. It uses a four-cylinder engine and two electric motors to create 121 total horsepower.

My tester, the hybrid version, added another road-trip selling point: insanely good gas mileage.
The Corolla Hybrid is rated for 53 mpg in city driving and 52 on the highway, numbers I appreciated the very few times I had to stop for fuel. You can drive this car for four hours non-stop on the highway — if your bladder can hold out that long — then pull over to fill it up with a whopping 6 gallons of gas. It’s nearly as miserly as the Prius in real-world driving.
Acceleration is its weak point. You have to frequently push the gas pedal all the way to the floor and hold it there when merging, wringing every last drop out of its 121-horsepower drivetrain. And like all cars with a continuously variable transmission, it makes an awful, high-pitched racket when you do that.
On the flip side, its off-the-line feeling in city driving is actually pretty good. Two powerful electric motors deliver instant torque to the front wheels, making it seem more responsive than the gasoline-only Corolla.
An “EV Mode” button lets you shut off the gas engine and cruise around in silent electric power for a short period of time. Unlike full electric cars, though, you never have to plug it in. It recharges the batteries automatically when you’re braking or coasting, just like the classic Prius.

An 8-inch touchscreen is conveniently placed high on the Corolla’s dash, providing easy access to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functions when paired to a smartphone.

It also shares the same traits that have made the Corolla one of the most popular cars on the planet for decades: low operating costs, a reputation for reliability and a solid, well-built, intelligently designed cabin. All those things add up to excellent resale value on the used-car market, as well.
Other than the anemic acceleration — admittedly a necessary tradeoff in fuel-efficient cars — I couldn’t find much to criticize in the current Corolla.
Typically, I think of giant luxury barges as the ultimate vehicles for road trips, especially if you’re traveling with a family. Compact cars are usually too cramped and harsh-riding to be enjoyable over hours of highway cruising.
The Corolla Hybrid proves that mindset wrong by showing just how comfy and thrifty small cars can be for traveling.
Pricing starts at $20,075 for the base L trim Corolla. The Corolla Hybrid, which comes with a higher level of standard equipment in only one trim level, LE, is priced at $23,650.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE ($23,650). Options: Blind spot monitor ($500), premium interior package ($1,525), carpet mat package ($249), frameless Homelink mirror ($175), rear bumper protector ($79).  Price as tested (including $995 destination charge): $27,173
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Length: 182.3 in.
Width: 70.1 in.
Height: 56.5 in.
Powertrain: 1.8-liter four cylinder plus two electric motors (121 combined system horsepower)
Transmission: Continuously variable
Fuel economy: 53 city, 52 highway

Style: 6
Performance: 4
Price: 10
Handling: 6
Ride: 9
Comfort: 8
Quality: 10
Overall: 8

Why buy it?
The Corolla Hybrid is incredibly efficient and surprisingly comfortable. It also comes with the traditional Corolla selling points: durability, low cost of operation, a quality cabin and strong resale value.

Posted in Toyota

Civic Si Grows Up

By Derek Price

The Honda Civic seems to be growing up, and that’s especially evident in the affordable-performance Si version.
The Si used to be the most raw, hard-edged Civic you could buy, perfect for young kids with movie-fueled racing dreams, but it’s been supplanted in recent years by the much faster Type R.
Now that a new-generation Civic is out, the Si feels even more like the Type R’s classy, sophisticated, buttoned-up brother.
Part of that comes from the look, which is dramatically simpler and cleaner than last year’s Civic. Harsh edges and creases are replaced with smooth lines, and the overall style is less polarizing and daring than before — which could be a good or bad thing depending on one’s taste.
To me, this new Civic seems to return to its roots. It’s never been a flashy car, as much as the last generation tried to make it one.
Even with its Si-exclusive Blazing Orange paint, my tester looked more tame than its predecessor. It’s styled more like a car that could be driven by an up-and-coming middle manager now, not a punk kid.

Honda’s next-generation Civic has a simpler, cleaner look. That’s also true in its affordable performance version, the Si, which is available in this Blazing Orange paint color.

It doesn’t water down the driving feel, though, with brilliant handling that makes it one of the most rewarding compact cars I’ve ever driven. The new Civic Si begs to be pushed aggressively as you row through the gears in its rev-matching manual transmission, the engine making a delicious noise with every downshift.
Steering, braking and suspension all felt spectacular when I wrung out its 1.5-liter, 200-horsepower turbocharged engine on winding roads.
At the same time, some of its numbers are moving in the wrong direction. This new Civic Si makes five fewer horsepower than the outgoing model and weighs 46 pounds more.
Considering this is no longer the ultimate performance Civic, though, it can be forgiven. It’s more of a performance car for people on a budget, those keen to have Honda reliability and thrifty 37-mpg highway fuel-economy rating along with over-the-top thrills.

Honda’s next-generation Civic has a simpler, cleaner look. That’s also true in its affordable performance version, the Si, which is available in this Blazing Orange paint color.

Despite its performance pretensions, the new Si feels remarkably comfortable on highway trips. I drove it seven hours on Interstate 35 and never experienced the droning exhaust sound or spine-cracking ride that plague some of its speedy, compact competitors.
The new Si justifies a higher price for 2022 with a snazzier, better-equipped cabin.
Red stitching and sporty accents catch the eye without being obnoxious, and a high level of standard equipment make it feel like a bargain, especially for a car this fast and rewarding to drive.
No-extra-cost features include a 9-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with a 12-speaker Bose sound system. It also comes standard with today’s most useful driver assistance features: adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, along with a host of safety sensors.
The Civic Si is priced at $27,300, a $5,400 premium over the base Civic sedan. A set of high-performance summer tires adds just $200 to the cost.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2022 Honda Civic Si HPT ($27,500). Options: Blazing Orange paint ($395).  Price as tested (including $1,015 destination charge): $28,910
Wheelbase: 107.7 in.
Length: 184 in.
Width: 70.9 in.
Height: 55.5 in.
Engine: 1.5-liter turbocharged four cylinder (200 hp, 192 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Fuel economy: 27 city, 37 highway

Style: 9
Performance: 9
Price: 9
Handling: 8
Ride: 8
Comfort: 7
Quality: 9
Overall: 9

Why buy it?
It’s wonderfully rewarding to drive and looks more mature than before. It’s also impressively comfortable on the highway and a screaming bargain for performance.

Posted in Honda