Maybe Toyota didn’t realize it at the time, but when it first debuted the Prius it also launched an entirely new segment of vehicles. While the Prius inspired competing automakers to get into the world of hybrids, the Toyota easily outsold them all and remained king for nearly two decades.
The Prius, which debuted in the U.S. in 2001, has evolved from a basic transportation appliance into an entirely different beast. It’s filled with new technology, improved performance, and increased efficiency. The latest iteration also has something it’s never had to deal with before:
The Hyundai Ioniq, which is new for 2017, has suddenly become the most fuel-efficient hybrid in the United States. How did Hyundai manage to best the Prius on its first try? Here’s what Car and Driver said,
First, Hyundai has more development years invested than you might think. A dedicated team within Hyundai began working on hybrid powertrains nearly 12 years ago, and developing its so-called TMED (transmission-mounted electrical device) hybrid system 10 years ago.
Feel free to read the full article for all the technical jargon on how Hyundai used its vast knowledge to achieve an EPA rating of 58-mpg. The important thing, of course, is that the most fuel efficient hybrid on the road no longer wears a Toyota badge.
Then there’s the question of design.
The aesthetics of a vehicle’s design is a completely subjective matter, but I don’t believe I’m alone in wondering if the Prius may have pushed the boundaries of design too far. It’s now an angular curiosity with odd proportions and a front-heavy feel, while the Ioniq comes to market with a sleek modern flair that many buyers may prefer.
The Ioniq looks how the Prius would have had it continued along its design evolution rather than attempting something revolutionary. The Ioniq’s interior controls are intuitive and familiar. Also, by using a dual-clutch transmission, Hyundai ensures that the Ioniq sounds and feels as much like a normal car as possible, while simultaneously delivering more engaging driving dynamics.
It all adds up to a formula that could very well make Hyundai the new king of the hybrids.
Do you prefer the design of the Prius or the Ioniq?