Sedans with contrasting attributes provide enjoyable driving, exceptional pricing
Though it’s in the large car segment, the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Blue feels more like an oversized compact, but it has many positive large car driving traits that make it a decent road car - with just a few quirks.
The Blue is the base model of three Ioniq trims, but it’s loaded with standard equipment and it met most of our tech, comfort, and creature needs, including 26.5 cubic feet of cargo space that we utilized to its fullest.
While some reviews have said the new Ioniq is not as stylish as a Prius, we thought it had a creative front design with very cool lighting, 15-inch Eco-Spoke wheels, rear spoiler, and active grille shutters, plus we loved the Electric Blue metallic paint.
Our particular likes on this FWD hybrid include a delightfully quiet interior while on the road, easy-to-use instrument clusters (some hybrid models have complex instrumentation), a well-functioning six-speed EcoShift dual clutch automatic transmission (superb in Sport Mode), and EPA fuel ratings of 58 MPG (57/city and 59 highway).
Powered by a DOHC 1.6-L GDI Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder hybrid engine mated with a synchronous electric motor and 240-volt lithium-ion battery, the combination created plentiful power and acceleration, though we did feel some hesitations during low speed situations such as backing up and parking.
The interior of the Ioniq Blue offers 60/40 split/fold-down seats (heated on SEL and Limited models), premium cloth seats, dual climate control, a seven-inch audio display touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto link, tilt/telescope steering wheel
with Bluetooth, cruise, and audio controls, and more. With the exception of tight head space in the rear, we found the Ioniq to have comfortable seating with generous leg, head, and shoulder volume.
The unibody Ioniq uses high-tensile steel materials and has a front suspension comprised of MacPherson struts with coil spring and gas shocks. Combined with a multi-link rear suspension and power-assisted motor-driven power steering, we found the handling and ride surprisingly pleasant.
Safety features included advanced air bags; front side impact, front and rear side-curtain, and driver’s knee air bags; an energy absorbing steering column, and more. There is a rear camera on the Blue, but not some of the other monitoring systems we like (several are available on SEL and Limited models).
The MSRP on our tested Blue was $22,200 and our model had just one option - carpeted floor mats for $125. Very competitive pricing for a solid driving hybrid with exceptional fuel economy.
Lancer still a fun car to drive
We still have fond memories of track testing the rowdy Mitsubishi Lancer Evo at Firebird Raceway near Phoenix many years ago, but the days of the Evo racing model are now gone. However, that does not mean all of the traits of the very capable racer have disappeared with the current Lancer sedan.
Our test of the 2017 Lancer 2.0 LE (second of five trim levels) proved that there is still plenty of racer in this car. Powered by 2.0-L MIVEC DOHC four-cylinder engine, the engine in our tester was mated to a reactive continuously-variable transmission (five-speed manual also available). It’s quick to respond with its 16-valve engine that produces 148 HP.
What remains a huge positive for the Lancer is its dynamic handling. It has a Macpherson strut front suspension with a stabilizer bar and a rear multi-link suspension. The Active Stability Control (ASC) system employs sensors that monitor the grip of each tire and communicates with the ABS to apply the proper traction as needed. Along with an excellent traction control system and electric power steering, handling characteristics are excellent. It is one of a few compact models that offers all-wheel control system (though it lowers the fuel economy by some four MPG).
With dozens of standard features, there are some favorites that include fog lamps, LED lighting, heated side mirrors, rear-view camera, seven air bags, and more. The Limited Edition (LE) package at no additional cost adds 12 features that include a 6.5-inch display (up from 6.1) audio screen with Smartphone Link, black painted roof, power glass sunroof, sport-type front seats, aluminum pedals, and 16-inch painted alloy wheels.
The real likes on the Lancer are its price and fuel economy with the 2.0-L engine (not nearly as good with the 2.4-L on some models). EPA rating for this compact is 30 MPG overall (27/city and 34 highway), and we garnered just over 30 MPG during our weeklong test with city and highway driving.
Even though the Lancer is a bit dated, with its loaded standard equipment list and great fuel ratings our tester was priced at only $19,795 with no options. Exceptional price and it’s still a generally fun car to drive.