It’s that time of year where the seasons begin to change, the air has that smell to it every morning, and one final vacation is in the cards for many of us before we, uh, start planning more vacations for fall and winter. Earlier this summer, I left a Kia EV6 GT parked in lieu of driving my own diesel-powered Porsche Cayenne to Kentucky for a wedding. Despite riding on the Kia/Hyundai E-GMP electric car platform, the EV6 GT didn’t have enough range, nor did our route have enough fast chargers, to make the trip practical. This time was different, though. I had yet another E-GMP car – the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 – but one that’s far more optimized for road-tripping.
Our destination? Fire Island Pines, the itty-bitty gay beach destination off the coast of Long Island, New York. It’s a very analog sort of place in a super-digital world, a getaway that’s as much back-to-basics fun as it is sleep-on-the-beach relaxing.
Despite advances in technology, the Ioniq 6 cannot float, so we’d still have to take a ferry from Long Island to the barrier island itself. But Washington, DC to Sayville, New York was all on the electric Hyundai. I had three friends and all their luggage to carry with me, and our route covered 280 miles each way.
What Is the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6?
The 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 is the second “numbered Ioniq” in the brand’s lineup of electric cars – we’ll ignore the older electric sedan simply called Ioniq here. Where the Ioniq 5 is a big hatchback-lookin’ thing, the Ioniq 6 is a far sleeker sedan. Some loved the styling, some hated it. I think it needs to be a touch longer to look more proportionate, but I do love the rear end, which is giving 1990s Infiniti J30-meets-cyberpunk.
As mentioned above, the Ioniq 6 is on the E-GMP platform shared with Kia and Genesis. It’s an 800-volt architecture that supports relatively fast charging speeds on road trips and can provide solid range, too. My Ioniq 6 tester was a loaded Limited with dual motors. One motor per axle provides all-wheel drive and more power – 320 horsepower and 446 lb-ft – but you do lose a bit of range over a single-motor model. Mine was rated at 270 miles of range, but a rear-wheel drive Ioniq 6 SE with smaller wheels can manage up to 361 miles out of the same 77.4 kWh battery pack.
Beyond the powertrain, the Ioniq 6 is relatively simple. There’s no adaptive suspension to be found, brakes are appropriately sized but not monstrous, and steering is your basic electrically-assisted setup. Hyundai is making no claim that the Ioniq 6 is a performance car, it’s merely a competent, nice EV.
Our highway trip would focus on that competency, and I needed all the range I could get. We were trying to make a specific ferry, given they only run every few hours, and an extended charging stop could throw a wrench in the plan. Hyundai has managed a 0.21 coefficient of drag with the Ioniq 6 – that’s how they get such good range out of the car – though the sleek styling did have a few small impacts on us.
Can You Fit Four People and Their Luggage, Really?
Yes, with caveats.
When the Ioniq 6 was dropped off at my apartment, I immediately popped the trunk to see how much space we’d have. Four people with luggage for a week has the potential to be… a lot. Granted, skimpy swimwear doesn’t take up much space, but all those tea looks sure do. There’s just 11.2 cubic feet of space in the trunk, compared to 27.2 that you’ll find in the bigger and hatch-ier Ioniq 5. And there’s no frunk, really, just a small space where I stashed the included charging cord.
Thankfully, my friends were willing to consider their luggage size and with some clever Tetris maneuvers, everything fit like a glove. We made use of the completely flat floor and put one tote bag between the rear passengers’ feet, where it didn’t impinge on anyone.
Headroom was impinged a bit, though, even up front. That sleek roof line looks good (to some) but forced my back seat passengers to slouch ever so slightly at times. They did report that the back seat itself was comfortable, though. Up front, I wanted the driver’s seat about an inch lower than it’d go, as my hair was brushing the headliner no matter how I positioned my seat.
Making Our Way Downtown, Driving Fast, Faces Pass
I sang Vanessa Carlton at the piano bar on karaoke night, so you’re welcome for that headline. Let’s talk road tripping, since we’ve established that we did in fact fit all of our stuff in the Ioniq 6.
Highway speed and EVs is a funny thing. Most EVs can achieve their rated range (ish) between 60 and 70 miles per hour. As with a gas-powered car, though, faster driving puts more aerodynamic demand on the car and your efficiency drops. Above 80 miles per hour, that drop can be significant.
I say that because our route took us up I-95, part of the New Jersey Turnpike, and then on a variety of highways in New York. Nobody drives “slowly” on any of those roads, and I did my part to keep up with traffic while not meeting any state troopers in the process. The Ioniq 6 did well, still achieving good economy in line with Hyundai’s claims.
We stopped once on the drive up and twice on the drive home to charge. While the Ioniq 6 can use 350 kW chargers, they are not super common yet, even on the busy I-95 corridor. Two of our stops only offered 150 kW charging, which was still plenty fast, all things considered. Our third stop came at an EVGo station that advertised 250 kW charging and delivered on its promise. The Ioniq 6’s charging curve was solid, ramping up toward the maximum speed supported by each charger and staying there for much of the charging duration.
Road trips in EVs are feasible, though having cars and chargers that support 250 to 350 kW charging speeds really does feel like a game-changer. Hopefully we’ll see more of those truly fast chargers proliferate as time goes on.
Beyond the charging experience, the Ioniq 6 was a solid road-tripper. Everyone in the car – all ‘car gays’ with discerning palates – noticed that the rear suspension felt a bit under-damped compared to the front over expansion joints. We all liked the spacious, quiet interior and the solid Bose sound system.
As the driver, I enjoyed Hyundai’s excellent Highway Driving Assist suite of software, which helped out in traffic and on open stretches of highway. The system is a bit over-eager to alert you of, well, everything; sensitivity can be turned down but we still found the beeps and boops a bit annoying.
I’m not new to driving EVs, locally or on longer trips. The idea of taking the Ioniq 6 to New York and back didn’t bother me personally, but I was legitimately concerned about bringing others along on the ride. Not everyone has the same level of patience or sense of adventure that can come with charging stations in particular.
Thankfully, the charging infrastructure that was so lacking on my trip to Kentucky was much more robust along the East Coast. The Ioniq 6 has enough range, even when you add the second motor, to make a long drive a non-event. If we’d had the single-motor model, I may have only stopped once along our entire round trip.
The 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 is more spaceship than spacious in some regards, but it was still a great partner for one final trip away from reality this summer.