2019 Hyundai Nexo: Owning a Hydrogen Car Doesn’t Have to Look Weird

Hyundai’s next-generation fuel cell crossover hits the roads of California.

Two markets in southern California will soon see the company’s first and most advanced bespoke model later this year. Meet the 2019 Hyundai Nexo – it’s an electric car, but not as you’d normally know it. Instead, this is a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, and picks up where the earlier Tuscon Fuel Cell model leaves off. The new model does look futuristic with its thin running lights and auto-flush door handles. However, it does look more conventional than its competitors.

So how does a hydrogen fuel cell car work compared to a conventional car? We had the opportunity to experience Hyundai’s approach to hydrogen cars in Los Angeles, as the company flew us out here to test both the Nexo and the Kona Electric. In short, rather than burning the fuel, electricity and heat is created through an electrochemical reaction. Hydrogen molecules in the tank mix with oxygen pumped in from the ambient air. That reaction generates a charge and a bit of heat, and that electricity is placed into a battery and used to drive the electric motor at the front wheels.

Performance

Here, as opposed to storing all the electricity in batteries, you’re generating some of the electricity you then use to drive the car. However, there is still a high-voltage battery on board. Hyundai designed the 2019 Hyundai Nexo to run on either the 127 horsepower fuel cell stack, the 1.56-kWh battery, or both. Depending on your driving conditions, the total combined output for the 2019 Hyundai Nexo stands at 161 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque. The only emission? The byproduct of mixing hydrogen and oxygen: water.

As the system runs purely on hydrogen gas, the driver can stop at one of the filling stations currently available in California. There, they can simply refuel in five minutes, rather than taking up to an hour or more to recharge an battery electric car at a fast charger.

The 2019 Hyundai Nexo goes one further to cut down on CO2

While the powertrain itself cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions, the manufacturing process can still be harmful to the environment. Hyundai has considered that too, which is why the 2019 Hyundai Nexo uses more eco-friendly materials in its construction. That includes using soybean-oil based polyurethane paint, bamboo-based bio fabrics, as well as plastics derived from sugarcane in trim pieces and carpets.

The new hydrogen powertrain in the 2019 Hyundai Nexo will allow it to travel farther than the old Tucson Fuel Cell, as well. The entry-level Blue model has slightly better EPA ratings, as its not burdened with more luxury equipment. It gets an MPGe rating of 65 City / 58 Highway / 61 Combined MPGe. The heavier Nexo Limited, on the other hand, manages 59 City / 54 Highway / 57 Combined MPGe. The overall range for the 2019 Hyundai Nexo stands at 380 miles for the Blue and 354 miles for the limited. That’s 68 miles farther than the Toyota Mirai and 14 miles more than the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell.

An assortment of driver assist technology

You’d expect a car like the 2019 Hyundai Nexo to come packing technology, and you shouldn’t be disappointed. The car’s 12.5-inch infotainment system houses all the features you expect, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. The majority of media and climate controls are available on the floating bridge center console. That way, everything is within convenient access. The shift-by-wire transmission is right next to the driver, as is the button for the Nexo’s four drive modes: Eco, Eco+, Normal and Sport.

The Limited model also comes with a blind-spot view monitor, which places an image of the driver’s blind spots right in the 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster as they put their signal on in either direction. Other assistance systems include lane follow assist, forward collision-avoidance assist, a surround-view camera system and rear-cross traffic collision assist. Blind-spot collision avoidance steers the driver back into their lane if they’re about to merge into another motorist.

The 2019 Hyundai Nexo has a 12.5-inch infotainment screen, as well as a digital instrument cluster display.

Pricing, driving impressions to come

At the moment, pricing information is not yet available for the 2019 Hyundai Nexo. However, Hyundai will announce pricing for customers in certain California markets soon. The company will launch the Nexo to the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay area first. Then, they’ll expand to other markets as hydrogen infrastructure expands, notably on the East Coast.

Driving impressions on the 2019 Hyundai Nexo will be available Monday, October 15th. Check back to TFLcar.com for our full review of Hyundai’s all-new fuel cell crossover! Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow on YouTube as well for more news, views and real-world reviews.

 

Zach Butler
Zach is a writer and Managing Editor for TFLcar. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in hot hatchbacks and off-road rigs. Born and raised in Colorado, Zach holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Colorado State University, and is based in Boulder, Colorado.