Electric Drives Highlight 23 Spring Brake

BEAR MOUNTAIN, N.Y. – Electric vehicles, like the Hyundai Ioniq 6, Volvo S60 Recharge PHEV and Mazda CX-90 PHEV, are amongst the myriad of new models emerging on a regular basis reaffirming the move towards full electrification of automotive propulsion.

It was ironic to spend some time driving these examples of tomorrow’s vehicles within the shadow of the now shuttered Indian Point nuclear plant, once considered the future of providing the New York Metropolitan area’s energy needs.

But unlike the former Con Edison power plant, these cars and SUVs, part of the array of new automotive hardware brought to the bucolic Bear Mountain State Park for sampling by members of the International Motor Press Association (#IMPA) at its annual #Spring Brake2023 ride-&-drive, appear as a definite solution to transportation challenges for a world with diminishing energy resources.

Electrification – either in hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or pure battery (BEV or EV) power — dominated the roster of vehicles available for the media to drive including the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT; Lucid Air; Nissan Ariya; Hyundai Ioniq 5; Genesis Electrified G70; Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve 4XE; Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD Sport Touring; Lexus ES 300h F Sport, and Volvo XC40 Recharge.

I made it a point to get into several but concentrated on ones with electrical powertrains; here is an encapsulated look at three. They all had some form of regenerative braking and a form of one-pedal driving, though my quick sampling did not allow for a long look at these features.:

Hyundai Ioniq 6 SEL

They might have been spawned from the same E-GMP – Electric Global Modular Platform, but there is no mistaking which one is which when looking at the two four-door Hyundai BEVs – the Ioniq 5 or Ioniq 6.

Where the Ioniq 5 is all angles in a very modern, futuristic theme, the Ioniq 6 (photo above) is more of a throw-back, four-door, swoopy coupe-like sedan which might have been a 1930’s-era designer’s idea of what the future of motoring might look like.

Inside the distinctive shape is a very spacious interior, especially in terms of rear-seat legroom (39.2 inches). A cavernous center console is supplemented with a deep shelf beneath it (as an electric vehicle with the transmission selector on a steering-column stalk there are virtually no cables taking up room in it). The designers worked hard to create the impression of space within the Ioniq 6’s swoopy shape – and they succeeded!

The dash features the latest version of Hyundai’s three-feet of LCD screens (one as the “instrument” cluster in front of the driver; the other the 12.3-inch infotainment touch screen with navigation).

Like most BEVs, the Ioniq 6 is quick, FAST, smooth and virtually silent as it carved up the undulating, curving road along New York’s Hudson River in northern Rockland County. EV dynamics transform sedans into sporting vehicles almost by default, at least the way Hyundai approaches the genre. And the Ioniq 6 SEL is a rear-wheel drive sedan, thus allowing for a bit of tail-centric driving on tight, curving roads; again, a legacy signature element of traditional sport sedans.

The sure handling did not come at the expense of ride comfort. The chassis contributed to a controlled activity, even when the pavement showed signs of winter wear.

The Hyundai Ioniq 6 SEL, a comprehensively and fully equipped BEV (including the complete line of Hyundai active driver-assistance systems like blind-spot collision warning, blind-spot view monitor, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, parking collision-avoidance assist, forward collision-avoidance assist, and lane-keeping assist) for $47,700.

Volvo S60 Recharge

I took the new Volvo S60 Recharge plug-in hybrid (PHEV) on an errand during #SpringBrake2023 which combined a tight, twisting, hilly road; a section of 55-miles-per-hour four lane highway and a visit to the village of Fort Montgomery.

First impression – this is like all the Volvo vehicles I have driven in the past couple of years: premium/luxury interior with a clean, Scandinavian appearance. The vertical-oriented center touchscreen is divided amongst infotainment features (including built-in Google services) and vehicle controls like those for the multi-zone automatic climate-control system.

A twist of the starter control on the console (Volvo goes its own way, eschewing the more-common dash or console push button) lights up the cluster, including the green “READY” which means it is time to go.

And go is something the S60 Recharge with its 455 combined (gasoline and electric motors) horsepower and 523 pounds-feet of torque can certainly do. I felt it when I gave the accelerator a push – the car zoomed forward with authority (Car and Driver reported it could hit 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and 100 mph in less than 10!). It easily kept up speed while maneuvering through the twisting mountain road.

But this is a Volvo, so despite a very competent chassis which seemed more than capable of handling the S60 Recharge’s prodigious output, the company’s safety-centric positioning results in a top speed limited to 114 mph (obviously faster than is legal anywhere in the United States).

Volvo has produced a stylish, premium/luxury four-door, five-person sport sedan which can run like a Porsche (at least to 114 mph) which is rated at 74 miles per gallon gas/electric combined and can go up to 41 miles on pure electrical power. Nice achievement!

Mazda CX-90

I like Mazda vehicles. They are well engineered, well-conceived and well-executed, uniquely attractive thus distinguishing themselves from the rest of the automotive world.

On the inside, the design is consistent, whether it is the Mazda 3 subcompact sedan, Mazda CX-5 compact SUV or the new Mazda CX-90 large, three-row SUV, all share common control placements and appearance. A Mazda owner moving amongst the brand’s offerings will be comfortable regardless of model.

The CX-90 on hand at #SpringBrake2023 was the PHEV version which produces 323 hp, 369 lb.-ft. of torque and can travel up to 25 miles on pure electrical power. Fuel economy will range between 25 and 54 mpg depending upon how much electrical power mixes in with the gasoline engine output.

My time behind the wheel was limited, but the sense I got was plenty of power, solid handling, good ride – all typical Mazda qualities. I will be attending a media-presentation on the CX-90 later this week which will mark its entering the New England media fleet. This means I will be spending my usual week-long review period in it shortly when I will be able to provide even further information.

Next week TBR Drives the 2023 Toyota Tundra full-size pickup truck.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.