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- Highs As cute as a gas Kona, competitive range, backed by Hyundai’s great warranty.
- Lows Front-wheel drive only, why is it sold in just 26 states?
- Verdict The Kona Electric is an efficient small EV with a spunky personality that reminds us of its likable gas-powered sibling.
The Kona Electric is a pleasant and efficient little crossover that hues to the idea that electric vehicles should be just like gas cars—but powered by electrons instead of petroleum. It encompasses everything we appreciate about the funky, gas-powered Kona, but replaces that model’s fossil-fuel-burning four-cylinder engine with a lithium-ion battery pack and a permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor. The resulting power output and estimated driving range–a crucial factor for most shoppers who are trying to determine which EV is right for them–are reasonable enough, as is the electrified Kona’s price tag. Its obedient on-road manners, feature-rich interior, industry-leading warranty coverage, and convenient complimentary maintenance package still hold up reasonably well against its small-EV competition.
Where This Vehicle Ranks#8 in Best Electric SUVs
What's New for 2023?
The 2023 Kona Electric carries over from the 2022 model year with only minor changes. What was previously referred to as the SEL trim becomes the SE, and the SEL Convenience Package model becomes the SEL trim. The Limited remains the range-topper. Heated front seats with eight-way power adjustability and lumbar support for the driver become standard along with a rear USB port and auto up-down power front windows. The 10.3-inch display with built-in navigation is now standard on both SEL and Limited models, rather than just the latter.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We'd recommend the SEL trim, which now includes features from the Convenience package as standard equipment including a sunroof, a wireless smartphone-charging pad, and heated front seats. Also standard are heated front seats with an eight-way power function and lumbar support for the driver seat, a rear USB port, and auto up-and-down windows for the front doors. All three trim levels are equipped with the same battery pack and the same permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor.
EV Motor, Power, and Performance
A 201-hp electric motor drives the front wheels (all-wheel drive isn't offered) and is powered by a 64.0-kWh battery pack. At our test track, the Kona Electric hauled itself from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, 0.2 second quicker than the regular Kona. As with the regular Kona, the electric version offers sprightly driving dynamics, which makes it fun to scamper along a twisty two-lane. It doesn't offer sports-car-level thrills, but for a subcompact SUV it's engaging to drive. It also cruises smoothly at highway speeds and feels substantial and planted thanks to the heavy battery mounted in the floor and its resulting low center of gravity.
Range, Charging, and Battery Life
Aggressive regenerative braking allows for one-pedal driving and helps extend the driving range to a claimed 258 miles—one mile less than the Bolt EV. Pulling the paddles behind the steering wheel allows the driver to adjust the level of regen; we prefer the most aggressive setting. The Kona Electric can be charged on a 110-volt household outlet, but we wouldn't recommend that on a day-to-day basis; a 240-volt outlet is best for home charging, and the Kona Electric can also be charged at a DC fast-charging station.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Kona Electric has earned a combined rating of 120 MPGe from the EPA. In our real-world highway fuel-economy testing, though, we recorded just 86 MPGe and 160 miles of driving range. However, this test was conducted on a 2019 model in December in our home state of Michigan, where temperatures can frequently register below freezing in the winter. Low temps tend to pull the range of many EVs down significantly. For example, we also tested a Bolt EV in similarly frigid weather and it delivered 140 miles of driving range—far below its EPA-rated number of 238 miles. For more information about the Kona Electric's fuel economy, visit the EPA's website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Kona Electric's cabin is much the same as the one found inside its gas-powered counterpart: It's made from quality materials, is comfortable, and rich with features. The rear seat and cargo area are tight, even by subcompact-crossover standards, but since the Kona was designed from the outset to accommodate a battery pack, there's no less room inside the Electric than the standard model. The cargo area is identical to the regular Kona, too; we fit five carry-on suitcases inside with the rear seats in place and a total of 15 with the seats folded.
Infotainment and Connectivity
All models come with a touchscreen infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, as well as a 10.3-inch reconfigurable digital gauge display; base SE models come with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, while upgrading to the SEL or Limited adds a 10.3-inch display with navigation. A six-speaker audio system is standard on base SE and SEL models, while the Limited model comes with an eight-speaker Infinity audio system that sounds much richer.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Blind-spot monitoring and automated emergency braking are standard across the range, but adaptive cruise control is only offered on the top-spec Limited model. For information about the Kona Electric's crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with forward-collision warning
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Hyundai's warranty coverage is legendary at this point, and the Kona EV benefits further from a three-year/36,000-mile complimentary scheduled maintenance plan. Like other EVs, the Kona Electric has no oil, oil filter, or spark plugs to change, so the complimentary scheduled maintenance includes tire rotation, cabin air-filter changes, and a variety of different system inspections. Rival EVs such as the Bolt EV or the Model 3 can't touch the standard warranty that backs the Kona Electric. The Kia Niro EV offers similar warranty coverage but no complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- Battery warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for three years or 36,000 miles
2019 HYUNDAI KONA ELECTRIC
VEHICLE TYPE: front-motor, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
BASE PRICE: $37,495
MOTOR TYPE: permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 201 hp, 290 lb-ft; 64.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
TRANSMISSION: 1-speed direct drive
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 12.0-in vented disc/11.8-in disc
Tires: Nexen N'Priz AH8, 215/55R-17 94V M+S
Wheelbase: 102.4 in
Length: 164.6 in
Width: 70.9 in
Height: 61.2 in
Passenger volume: 93 cu ft
Cargo volume: 19 cu ft
Curb weight: 3767 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
Zero to 60 mph: 6.4 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 17.6 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.4 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.3 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.5 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 15.0 sec @ 94 mph
Top speed (governor limited, C/D est): 110 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 173 ft
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 88 MPGe
75-mph highway driving: 86 MPGe
Highway range: 160 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 120/132/108 MPGe
Range: 258 miles
More Features and Specs
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