Hyundai’s popular Kona compact crossover has been electrified. And when comparing its top EPA range of 258 miles on a full charge to Tesla’s Model 3 that tops out at 263 miles and Chevy’s Bolt at 259 miles, the Kona offers reasonable distance.
With that in mind, it’s best to say Kona is suited for around town driving as opposed to long trips. However, installing a home charging unit could help extend the miles that could be saved by not having to travel to a charging station that may not be close to your residence.
And here’s my beef with Kona or any EV we’ve tested so far. The closest Electrify American charging station to my home is only four miles away. But after three attempts at charging at one of the four charging stations there (that are backed up by a diesel generator behind them) and found them all occupied, it was a waste of time and battery power going back and forth to get an open charger. When I finally managed to get a charger, it was the slower 150 kW as others who got there before me wanted the faster 350kW chargers.
There is an Volta charger about 15 miles from me, but it requires a phone app where you must set up an online account along with your credit card information to use it. I’m not crazy about that idea. But the Electrify America chargers accept credit cards in addition to a smartphone scan app.
While on the subject of charging, it took 40 minutes to go from 38 percent to 75 percent for a charge of $6.45 to my Master Card. Much cheaper than petrol at today’s prices. But as I sat in the Kona waiting for the charge, I looked across the street and there’s a Sunoco gasoline station where I could have been in and out of there in five minutes and on my way home. The alternative, as said, is a home charger. And if you have a relative who is an electrician and won’t charge for his services, the only cost is for the wall charger.
As for the Kona itself, it’s offered in two trim levels of SEL and Limited, the latter of which we tested.
Kona’s exterior has a concept car look with its slit LED headlights that follow through to the back end with a similar slit of lights plus cluster lights on either side of the liftgate. The charge port is located in the front driver’s side fender and a home charging cable comes in a nylon pack.
Interior wise, Kona E sports a clean, upscale look with its 10.25-inch infotainment display that offers voice recognition and plays host to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto connectivity along with Blue Link that can be used for remote cabin pre-heating/cooling, remote locking, roadside assistance, checking battery levels and more. Flanking this screen is the 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster that serves double duty as a driver information display for a host of operating details such as the number of miles remaining in the battery.
Four neatly arranged push buttons activate the gear selector of P, N, D and R. They’re flush on the forward console and in front of it is a vertical phone charger.
HVAC controls too are a horizontal array of easy to view and use push buttons that keep with the interior’s overall styling theme, as do the heated/cooled front seats and heated telescopic steering wheel switches.
The leather front seats are nicely padded and comfy with some extended under thigh support. Back seats are similar with decent leg room provided the fronts aren’t racked well rearward. Otherwise leg room is scant. The rear doors, however, open wide for easy ingress/egress.
Back in the cargo area, that has a low 26-inch lift over, there’s 19.2 cubic feet of space that measures 25 inches deep, 43 wide and 28.5 high. Flip the rear seatbacks and space expands to 45.8 cubic feet for 58 inches of cargo loading depth.
Beneath the cargo floor are four shallow bins for small item storage and beneath it is another shallow storage bin that holds a tire inflator kit in place of a spare tire.
Kona E gets its power from an 150kW electric motor to drive the front wheels. It provides 201-hp and 291 lb/ft of torque for EPA estimated 132/108 MPGe equivalent, and employs regenerative braking. Power is stored in a liquid -cooled 64-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
Now here are some short comings. With the front seat and steering wheel heaters on, the battery depleted faster as it also did in Sport mode and when pushing the pedal too hard too often in Eco and Normal modes. I attempted to stay in Eco to conserve the battery.
I noticed too that the heater does not put out as much heat as a gasoline powered car does. Kona’s highest heater output is more tepid than hot. It’s an even temperature feel no matter how long the car is operated. Pity the folks in Buffalo last week who own EVs and got caught in the snow storm along with its power outages, and not being able to charge their batteries.
On the plus side, Kona’s full throttle acceleration pushes you back in the seat and does it even quicker and harder in Sport mode. When underway, all that is heard is a slight hum from the electric motor. And when in reverse and backing up, a faint beep-beep is heard, similar to some construction vehicles.
With its compact size, Kona E parks easily and tames sharp turns with ease and is a pleasure to drive and ride in. The only feature missing is AWD for us here in the Snowbelt.
With a long list of safety features such as forward collision avoidance assist, lane keeping/lane following assist, blind spot collision avoidance, rear cross traffic avoidance assist, safe exit warning, rain sensing wipers and more, the only extra cost option was for carpeted floor mats ($195) that took the base price of $42,500 to $43,940 with delivery. There’s also an available tax credit that could make the bottom-line a bit more attractive.
Kona EV received the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations top 5-star safety score in its crash tests, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded it a top safety pick in 2022.
Kona E comes with Hyundai’s industry-best 5 year/60K new vehicle warranty; 10/100K powertrain; 10/100K electric battery warranty; 7/unlimited anti-perforation; 3/36K complimentary maintenance; and 5/unlimited roadside assistance. With all these you can’t go wrong with a Hyundai Kona E. And when more charging stations become available, the Kona EV will make a lot more sense.