First Drive: 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6 Review, Canada Edition

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Hyundai’s IONIQ 6 electric sedan is set to arrive in Canada this April, with pricing released last month that qualifies the entry version for both federal and provincial rebates.

iPhone in Canada had a chance to get behind the wheel and experience the IONIQ 6 first hand during a media drive event in Vancouver, BC a couple of weeks ago. The IONIQ 6 is Hyundai’s second model built on the Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) and is available in both RWD and AWD versions. This isn’t a full-blown review but more of a one-day hands-on drive.

The IONIQ 6 boasts a full LED lighting system with parametric pixel LED projector headlights and taillights, and a dual-colour ambient lighting for the interior. It also features a multi-fast charging system (400V/800V) and vehicle to load (V2L) capability, which lets owners leverage the car’s battery to plug in regular appliances. We saw a demo of a SodaStream machine being plugged into the car’s charge port with an adapter and working fine. The possibilities are endless (I’d be using an air fryer).

Ioniq 6 interior

The media drive took place in mid-March and took us from downtown Vancouver to Fort Langley for coffee at Sabà Cafe, then to The Shed Coffee Bar Pizza for lunch before heading to Cypress Lookout.

Afterwards, we drove the scenic Sea to Sky highway to Porteau Cove, then back to downtown while joining the beginning of a slow crawl across the Lion’s Gate bridge. My co-pilot was Toronto’s famed tech journalist Ted Kritsonis from the Tednologic podcast.

The IONIQ 6 cockpit has lots of physical buttons and levers. To shift into drive, you need to put your foot on the brake and press the start/stop button. If you enter the car and only press the start/stop button to turn on the displays, you’ll need to press this button a second time with your foot on the brake to shift into drive.

Driving the IONIQ 6 AWD feels peppy with its 320 horsepower and 446 lb-ft torque. Electric cars are great for instant torque and this trim felt like more than enough power was available at any given time. Steering was responsive and smooth, while the interior cabin was very quiet blocking out noise for both city and highway driving.

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There are several driving modes, including eco, normal, sport, snow, and custom, with four levels of selectable coast regenerative braking profiles, including full “one pedal” driving at its highest setting. For those unaware, one-pedal driving means only driving with one pedal for both accelerating and decelerating. Slowing down by lifting your foot off the pedal is possible, requiring no usage of regular brakes.

Full regen levels were excellent, but the settings for full ‘one pedal’ driving reset with each new drive, which can get annoying over time.

The IONIQ 6 comes equipped with forward collision avoidance technology, including front radar and corner radar, a suite of high-tech preventive safety systems, and Hyundai’s new Highway Driving Assist 2 features.

Along the drive to Fort Langley on Highway 1, I enabled Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Lane Following Assist (LFA) and Highway Drive Assist (HDA) to test them right away. Everything worked fine but on some sharper curves, the system had some difficulty. The lane keeping assist would disable at times without letting us know with an audible chime, so there were some close calls around sharper bends when we had our hands off the wheel testing the limits of the system.

The placement of the front display is hidden by the top of the steering wheel. We had to raise the steering wheel higher than normal to see the full range of icons that indicated driving assist features. A yoke steering wheel or this screen pushed further back a bit would have changed things.

After asking Hyundai at our coffee stop about the lane keeping system’s behaviour, we were told it’s more of a driver assist and not a full-blown ‘self-driving’ set up, and shouldn’t be expected to act as a driving replacement.

Just be aware of the system kicking out the lane keep or lane follow and not letting you know with loud enough audible alerts. This is not something like Tesla’s basic Autopilot.

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Making our way from Fort Langley to Cypress Lookout, we were able to test the automatic lane change feature which was neat, while we learned to use the lane keep systems much better. At times, one of us may or may not have been snapping pictures with an SLR while on the highway behind the wheel, while the IONIQ 6 did its job driving along the highway with ease. The more we drove the car the better we became at understanding the driving assist systems.

The IONIQ 6 comes with a key fob and if you park the car, put it into park, open the door and walk away, then try to lock the car with the fob, it won’t work. That’s because you need to turn the car off by pressing the start/stop button before you leave the car. Hyundai says this is a regular practice like any other car. You can’t just close the door and walk away like some other cars.

After lunch at The Shed Coffee Bar Pizza, we drove up to Cypress Lookout for some amazing views on a rare sunny day in Vancouver. Here, we spent some more time checking out the front trunk which is only good for storing some small items, while checking out the rear trunk which offers some decent space that should fit a hockey bag.

Legroom for the front and passenger seats was spacious. The rear seat legroom behind a driver’s position set for a human well over 6 feet was spacious. But headroom in the back saw my hair graze the headliner and I would have liked more room. Tall giants be warned.

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As for build quality, the IONIQ 6 felt solid overall, with even panel gaps on the exterior. The Transmission Pearl Blue paint only revealed itself when the sun came out in the afternoon. But on an overcast day, you’d think you were colour blind as the pearl blue paint looks more like ‘nardo grey’.

Closing the doors of an IONIQ 6 results in a sold ‘thud’ that you’d find in a luxury German vehicle. Everything inside was well-built and constructed. The head-up display was nice to have and so was a second located in front of the steering wheel (if your steering wheel is positioned properly to see everything). How far we’ve come from the iconic red Hyundai Pony.

As for vehicle software, we didn’t get to test the car’s navigation as we instantly turned to wired Apple CarPlay (it uses a USB-A port, not USB-C) or Android Auto. What about wireless Apple CarPlay? We were told for this to happen, Apple and Google want their systems to show up by default when drivers enter the car. Of course, this is something automakers don’t want to give up right away, control of their infotainment systems to big tech.

The Hyundai system has a plethora of menus and settings and it still feels like something from a legacy automaker and not exactly a UI from the future.

The car also has the Bluelink app, which allows for remote charging start/stop, custom AC and DC charge limits, and the ability to find charging stations and send them to navigation. We didn’t get to test this out.

Leaving Cypress Lookout we tested the cooled front seats which worked out great and made for a relaxing drive back downtown. While the car’s looks aren’t for me (it seems to exude some front Tiburon vibes), it’s good to see the car supports over-the-air updates for not only its maps but also for its ECU. This means Hyundai can fix and adjust things over the air like Tesla, it said; many legacy automakers are still struggling to implement this for their EVs.

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We didn’t get to try charging the IONIQ 6, but it has an 800-volt/350 kW fast-charging system that can charge the battery from 10 to 80 percent in as little as 18 minutes while gaining up to 322 kilometres of range in 15 minutes of charging. The IONIQ 6 can pre-heat the car’s battery when you’re heading to a third-party charger, but you need to manually enable it (Tesla, for example, does this automatically as you navigate to a Supercharger).

While IONIQ 6 pricing has increased compared to the IONIQ 5 compact crossover, questions remain about whether Hyundai can produce the IONIQ 6 at scale, when some people are still waiting for orders of the former, well over a year.

The company told iPhone in Canada they will have around 2,500 IONIQ 6 units available for Canadian dealers for 2023.

Hyundai’s Q1 numbers released on Saturday indicated 222 IONIQ 6 vehicles have already been delivered in the U.S. The company also delivered 2,114 IONIQ 5 compact crossovers during the same quarter, an 8% decrease compared to the year-ago quarter.

It remains to be seen if Hyundai can ramp up IONIQ 6 production to meet the demand for the new car, which it says is positioned against the Tesla Model 3 and the Polestar 2 (a subsidiary of Volvo, with the latter owned by China’s Geely).

Tesla’s Q1 delivery numbers released on Sunday came in at 422,875 globally, up 36% year-over-year. They seem to be the only ones making mass numbers of EVs versus traditional automakers. If people can’t buy an IONIQ 6, they might jump to what’s available next.

All IONIQ 6 trims sold in Canada come with a 77.4-kWh battery and recently updated data from Natural Resources Canada shows the IONIQ 6 Long Range with 18-inch wheels is now the most efficient EV in the country, tied with the Lucid Air, followed by the IONIQ 6 Standard Range in second and the Tesla Model 3 RWD in third.

IONIQ 6 pricing starts at $54,999 for the Preferred RWD (581km range), while the Preferred AWD Long Range model costs $57,999 (509km range) and the Preferred AWD Long Range with Ultimate package—the car I drove—costs $63,999 with 435km range.

In B.C., the entry trim qualifies for up to $4,000 in rebates on top of the federal iZEV rebate of $5,000, taking it down to just under $45,999 before tax and freight/PDI, priced $99 more than a Tesla Model 3 RWD at $45,990, which qualifies for the same rebates.

Overall, the IONIQ 6 offered a quiet, comfortable ride and had power when we stomped on the pedal. As for the design, it can be downright polarizing and we did get many looks around town. The built-in software has room for improvement but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make things a lot better. Let’s hope Hyundai can make enough of these to satisfy customer demand.

Full disclosure: Hyundai invited us to the event and covered travel, meals and accommodation.