The Ioniq is the latest challenger to the Toyota Prius, the revolutionary hybrid that remains unrivaled for its combination of fuel economy, practicality, and reliability. The Ioniq hybrid version can drive briefly on electric power alone. (A full electric model is currently sold only in California, and a plug-in hybrid is coming this fall.)

The Ioniq matches the Prius with a stunning 52 mpg overall. And like the Prius, it has an aerodynamic and versatile hatchback design.

But the Ioniq is no joy to drive. Its dual-clutch automatic transmission elicits less engine noise than the continuously variable transmissions found in many hybrids, but the shifts could be smoother. In addition, the Ioniq is hesitant to accelerate.

Its handling borders on clumsy, requiring more steering input than its peers when making turns. The ride isn’t as comfortable as in the Prius, either. Unusually long braking distances, especially on wet surfaces, hurt the Ioniq’s road-test score. Also, we’d feel better if the car came standard with automatic emergency braking, but this feature is available only on the top two trims.

The straightforward controls are user-friendly. Our midlevel SEL came with a fully powered driver’s seat, including two-way lumbar support adjustment. The rear seat is a bit snug on headroom, and the two-piece back window reduces visibility.

Read the complete Hyundai Ioniq road test.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq

HIGHS: Fuel economy, hatchback versatility, controls
LOWS: Braking, agility, hesitation off the line, no rear wiper
POWERTRAIN: 139-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder hybrid engine; 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission; front-wheel drive
FUEL: 52 mpg
PRICE AS TESTED: $25,035


Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the September 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.