The world is slowly warming up to the idea of electric cars, and Hyundai is starting to capitalize on the fact by offering the technology in an affordable subcompact crossover package. Of course, we're talking about the electric Hyundai Kona. This cute SUV competes with cars such as the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3 and is priced from $37,190. Under the hood lies an all-electric powertrain delivering a healthy 201 horsepower and 291 lb-ft. Hyundai claims the Kona EV can drive up to 258 miles per charge. Inside, the Kona EV is well-sorted with fine materials and a good standard infotainment system. Despite its tight back seat, the Kona offers a lot of valuable storage space and should make for a delightful daily driver.
The all-electric Kona sees no changes for the 2021 model year, and carries over as is.
The 2021 Hyundai Kona EV is an impressive looking vehicle, which is a good thing in the age of the ubiquitous crossover SUV. The base model features projector headlights, rear privacy glass, and LED taillights. The Limited adds LED headlights with high beam assist and a power tilt and slide sunroof. The Ultimate trim features rain-sensing windshield wipers. All trim levels come standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, and are discernable from the gas model thanks to its unique front end which does away with the traditional grille, giving the Kona a futuristic look overall. It gets two unique exterior colors over the gas version, too, namely Ceramic Blue and Galactic Gray.
The all-electric vehicle that is the Kona is classified as a five-door subcompact crossover SUV, although it shares similar dimensions to that of the Chevrolet Bolt EV. The 2021 Kona EV rolls on a 102.4-inch wheelbase and is 164.6 inches long and 70.9 inches wide. The Kona EV is 61.2 inches tall and has a ground clearance of 6.2 inches. The base model's curb weight is 3,715 pounds, the Limited tips the scales at 3,770 lbs, and the Ultimate weighs 3,836 lbs.
The Kona EV is a car devoid of any type of gasoline-powered engine. Instead, you get a permanent-magnet synchronous motor mated to a single-speed transmission and a 64 kWh Lithium-ion Polymer battery. This setup produces a healthy 201 hp and 291 lb-ft of torque, which gets sent to the front wheels exclusively. With all of that torque available from the word go, the Kona EV turns out to be rather fun to hustle around the city, and with an independently tested 0-60 time of 6.4 seconds, it's no slowpoke. All that torque should also give the Kona EV a usable towing capacity, although it is not officially rated for it by the manufacturer. On the highway, the Kona EV provides more than enough go to perform overtaking maneuvers.
The good news is that the Kona all-electric car handles as well as it goes in a straight line. With a reasonable curb weight and a well-sorted chassis underneath, the Kona EV SUV delivers a confident driving experience that will be appreciated by those keen on a bit of driving fun. That is not to say that the Kona is a sports car, but we found it to be entertaining, to say the least. At highway speeds, the Kona EV is a confident cruiser and soaks up road imperfections with ease. Its heavy floor-mounted battery also aids in the overall feeling of stability. On city roads, the same level of refinement is experienced. The Kona EV has notable ground clearance, but the lack of AWD will limit off-road capability.
Fuel economy is one of the most important factors when shopping for a family-friendly subcompact crossover, and if you're looking to get the best mileage for your buck, then look no further. The Kona EV provides an all-electric range of up to 258 miles, which is only one mile off the max range of the Chevy Bolt EV at 259 miles. The Kona's EPA-rated economy figures are 132/108/120 MPGe across the city/highway/combined cycles. The Kona can't touch the Long Range Tesla Model 3, though, which can travel for up to 353 miles on a single charge. The Kona's 64 kWh battery can be fully charged in nine hours and 35 minutes via the standard 7.2 kW onboard charger. An 80 percent charge with a 50 kW charger will take 75 minutes, and a 100 kW charge to 80 percent will take only 54 minutes.
The interior of the Hyundai Kona electric vehicle can accommodate five adult passengers, but the rear seat is tight compared to the competition. Getting in and out of the Kona EV is no problem at all; access to the front is aided by wide-opening doors, but six-footers might have to duck their heads to get in the back. The front seats offer adequate support, but don't expect figure-hugging bucket seats. Headroom is generous in the front, and there's enough space in the rear for taller passengers, but with only 33.4 inches of rear legroom, adults won't be very comfortable.
When it comes to trunk and cargo space, the Kona delights with figures superior to competitors such as the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3. While the Chevy Bolt EV can only offer 16.9 cubic feet of trunk space, the Kona EV gives the owner 19.2 cubic feet of space behind the second row. Fold the 60/40 split fold-flat rear seatback, and that space increases to a generous 45.8 cubic feet. That's enough space for a few moving boxes or the monthly grocery run.
Small-item storage is taken care of via standard rear map pockets, large door pockets, a glove box, and two front cupholders. The Kona also offers a small shelf below the center console for your knick-knacks.
All three 2021 Kona EV models offer impressive specs as standard. The base model has heated cloth six-way manually adjustable front seats, a rearview camera with parking guidance, single-zone automatic climate control, a leather steering wheel, and keyless entry with push-button start. The Limited comes standard with an eight-way power driver's seat with power lumbar adjustment and leather upholstery, as well as wireless phone charging, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink. Ultimate trims get ventilated front seats, a head-up display, and smart cruise control with stop and go. All trim levels come with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assistance, forward collision avoidance, lane keep assist, and driver attention warning. The Limited adds high beam assist, while the Ultimate trim adds rear parking sensors and pedestrian detection.
Hyundai has the basics covered with a standard seven-inch touchscreen display in the base model and Limited. The infotainment system includes AM/FM/MP3 audio, SiriusXM satellite radio, HD Radio, and a standard six-speaker audio system. Bluetooth streaming along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard features. All trim levels feature dual USB outlets, an aux input, and a Blue Link connected car system. Going for the Ultimate bags you a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen display with navigation and an Infinity sound system with eight speakers. The overall experience with this infotainment system is pleasant, and most will figure out its workings in a day or two.
Certain 2020 Hyundai Kona vehicles have been recalled for an incorrect GAWR on printed certification labels, which could potentially lead to the car being overloaded, but in the USA no 2021 Hyundai Kona EV has been recalled at all. The 2019 model was recalled for an issue where the lithium-ion battery could potentially short circuit. Hyundai offers a class-leading warranty with the Kona EV, which includes a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a ten-year/100,000-mile warranty on electrical and drivetrain parts. Added to this is seven years of anti-perforation coverage and five years of 24/7 roadside assistance.
Although the Kona EV has not undergone review by the NHTSA, the regular model was subject to review by the authority, resulting in a five-star overall rating. for three of the four major crash tests. The IIHS was also impressed with the regular gas-fed version, awarding it the Top Safety Pick award for 2020, and Top Safety Pick+ for 2019. With a host of standard safety gear on board, the 2021 Kona EV should rate equally safe, thanks to six airbags, including side-curtain bags, and traction and stability control with ABS brakes. Driver assistance features include blind-spot assist, rear-cross traffic assist, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and driver attention warning. The Limited trim adds high beam assist, and Ultimate models get pedestrian detection.
As far as subcompact all-electric SUVs go, the Kona has to be one of the best. Starting with the exterior and moving in, this eco-friendly Korean certainly looks the part with its unique body styling: it's fresh and different. The electric motor setup under the hood delivers strong performance, and while the Kona might not be a dedicated sports car, lively acceleration and mid-range grunt make this little SUV feel alive. On the road, it offers impressive stability and comfort, partly thanks to the floor-mounted battery that grips it to the street below. Once inside, the Kona EV provides quality materials and a contemporary interior design that should age well. Interior features are relatively good, but you'll have to stretch for the Ultimate if you want an experience bordering on premium. What truly sold us on this car is its excellent standard safety features and warranty. The back seats are tight, and there's no AWD option, but these are small issues in what is otherwise an impressive package.
The Hyundai Kona EV has a price of $37,190 MSRP for the SEL base model, which is more expensive than the Chevrolet Bolt EV. The cost of the mid-range Limited is $41,800, and the range-topping Ultimate will set you back a hefty $45,400. These prices exclude tax, registration, and a delivery fee of $1,175. Fully loaded, the Ultimate goes on sale for over $46k. To sweeten the deal, buyers in the USA may be eligible for up to $7,500 in tax credits when purchasing the Kona EV.
Pricing for the Kona EV starts well above the competition, so those who are price sensitive would obviously look at the base model. For $37,190, the SEL offers the same 201-hp electric drivetrain as the rest of the lineup, and several impressive features, including a seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Standard driver safety systems include blind-spot assistance, lane keep assistance, and forward-collision warning. The Limited asks an extra $4,610, and for that amount, you get added features such as LED headlights with high beam assist, a sunroof, and power-adjustable leather seats. These are all nice-to-haves, but they come at a hefty cost. For that reason, we would recommend going with the highly capable base model.
The Model 3 is Tesla's attempt at an affordable electric vehicle, and judging by its sales, we would deem it quite a success. This luxury electric sedan comes in many different flavors and, for the price, offers possibly the best EV package around. Under the hood of the Model 3 is either a single or twin motor setup producing up to 480 hp, and with EPA estimates of 141/127/134 MPGe on the city/highway/combined cycle for the Long Range variant, it is one of the most efficient in its class. On the road, little comes close to offering the balanced driving experience of the Tesla Model 3. The Kona is by no means a bad car to drive, but the Model 3 is simply better. The interior of the Model 3 is a sleek and sophisticated one and feels more luxurious than that of the Kona, and it also offers good interior space. Both cars are incredibly safe and come with impressive tech, so the choice really boils down to whether or not you need the extra space of an SUV or the sporty performance of a sedan.
Few electric vehicles can lay claim to both an accessible price and decent range, but the Chevrolet Bolt is definitely one of them. This five-door all-electric subcompact hatchback is powered by a single electric motor producing 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough to cart this compact hatch around town - it even feels every bit as fast as the Kona. The Bolt will manage a maximum range of 259 miles, along with EPA estimates of 127/108/118 MPGe. On the road, the Bolt is not as fun to drive, but still soaks up bumps with ease, delivering a solid highway cruising experience. Its skinny tires like to light up when the accelerator is used with vigor. The interior of the Bolt EV offers fresh styling and comes across as youthful in general. Interior space is superior to the Kona, especially in the rear, but the Bolt can't match the Kona for trunk and overall cargo space. In terms of standard features, the two cars match up in base trim, but the Kona offers more standard safety features. We'd opt for the Kona despite its higher asking price.