The Hyundai Kona Electric was one of the automaker’s first EVs, arriving in 2019 with a 64.0-kilowatt-hour battery, a single front-mounted electric motor, and 258 miles of range. Since then, Hyundai’s EV lineup has diversified to include the spacious Ioniq 5 crossover and fastback Ioniq 6 four-door sedan, but the less expensive Kona Electric still makes sense for many customers.
That’s all the more impressive given the 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric is on its way. Vehicles often start to feel uncompetitive near the end of their life cycles, but the 2022 model I drove for a week had no such problems – save a high as-tested price of $43,880. As a rival for the Nissan Leaf Plus, Kia Niro EV, and Chevrolet Bolt, the Hyundai Kona Electric offers great range, competitive charging speeds, and a massive arsenal of comfort features that help offset its pricing woes.
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|Quick Stats||2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Limited|
|Motor:||Single Permanent-Magnet Synchronous|
|Output:||201 Horsepower / 290 Pound-Feet|
|Drive Type:||Front-Wheel Drive|
Gallery: 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Review
- Exterior Color: Galactic Gray
- Interior Color: Gray
- Wheel Size: 17 Inches
The zero-emissions Kona’s noseless exterior takes some getting used to – while some gas-to-electric conversions like the Kia Niro EV and Volvo XC40 Recharge maintain a pseudo-grille up front, the Kona just gets a smooth, body-color panel. Comparisons to Voldemort are justified, especially given the high parking lights and low headlights that recall He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s dead eyes and reptilian nostrils. The Electric’s body-color cladding looks a bit more sophisticated than the black plastic of lesser Konas, at least.
The cabin has much broader appeal than the polarizing sheetmetal. Materials and textures inside are class-competitive, with padded armrests and windowsills meeting up with a hard plastic dash. The high center console gets slick faux aluminum trim, with the regular Kona’s gear lever swapped out for a four-button selector panel that feels appropriately tech-savvy. The flowing, ovoid interior design may be a little dated, so anyone who really wants an au courant experience might rather pay up for the Ioniq 5 or Ioniq 6 – or wait for the 2024 Kona Electric.
- Seating Capacity: 5
- Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
- Cargo Capacity: 19.2 / 45.8 Cubic Feet
The Hyundai Kona Electric’s hushed cabin and smooth, genteel ride were a surprise to me, given the somewhat cheap-feeling driving manners of both the Chevrolet Bolt and the Nissan Leaf Plus. While its competitors let a bit too much tire roar or road imperfections into the cabin, the Kona insulates its passengers from the outside world. On truly bad pavement, the Hyundai’s ride can be a bit crashy and unrefined, but most of the time, it punches above its weight.
Its dated styling aside, the interior is a pretty comfortable place to spend a commute, with decent room up front and an adequate amount of cargo space for a small crossover – the rear seat folds flat for even more space. The rear seat, however, has the least head- and legroom in its competitive set, although more hip and shoulder room relative to the Bolt, Bolt EUV, and Leaf keep it from feeling cramped. Unlike the forthcoming 2024 Kona Electric, the current crossover doesn’t get a front trunk, with all the space under the hood reserved for a drive unit and electrical inverters.
|Interior Dimensions||Front/Rear Legroom||Front/Rear Headroom||Cargo Space|
|Hyundai Kona EV||38.0 / 37.7 Inches||41.5 / 33.4 Inches||19.2 / 45.8 Cubic Feet|
|Chevrolet Bolt EV||40.1 / 37.9 Inches||44.3 / 36.0 Inches||16.6 / 57.0 Cubic Feet|
|Chevrolet Bolt EUV||39.1 / 37.8 Inches||44.3 / 39.2 Inches||16.3 / 56.9 Cubic Feet|
|Kia Niro EV||40.5 / 38.1 Inches||41.5 / 36.9 Inches||22.8 / 63.7 Cubic Feet|
|Nissan Leaf||41.2 / 37.3 Inches||42.1 / 33.5 Inches||23.6 / 30.0 Cubic Feet|
- Center Display: 10.3-Inch Touchscreen
- Instrument Cluster Display: 10.3 Inches
- Wireless Apple CarPlay / Android Auto: No/No
The Hyundai Kona Electric SE gets an 8.0-inch center touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard, but if you opt for either the SEL or my Limited tester, you gain a larger 10.3-inch display and lose wireless mirroring. As with any other Hyundai product, the infotainment system is easy to use and features good touch response, and the touchscreen is flanked by physical volume and tuning knobs for the Ludds out there.
A 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster is standard across the board. It has a few different functions that help the driver stay informed, like a power flow meter and a regenerative braking coach, but for the most part, the display feels like overkill. The gauges change color when switching through drive modes, but there isn’t a full-screen map function or any significant customization options.
- Motor: Single Permanent-Magnet Synchronous
- Output: 201 Horsepower / 290 Pound-Feet
- Battery: 64.0-Kilowatt-Hour Lithium-Ion
The Hyundai Kona Electric’s 201 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque give it some pretty entertaining driving manners. Available only with front-wheel drive, the Kona EV is all too willing to light up the tires when you floor it from a stop, which is funny and silly if also a paragon of inefficiency. Still, dole out the power more judiciously and the Kona responds with plenty of thrust, even at freeway speeds.
The small Hyundai is also a nippy handler. Thanks to a battery that’s mostly mounted in the floor – there’s a portion of it that rests over the rear axle – weight is balanced and easy to manage in corners, and the Kona Electric tackles a winding road with more fun than is usually expected in this class of vehicle. It lacks its Ioniq siblings’ i-Pedal regenerative braking system, but you can still command one-pedal driving on the fly by holding down the left steering wheel paddle for maximum regeneration. Release the paddle and the Kona reverts to regen that feels more like engine braking.
Every Hyundai Kona Electric gets standard forward collision prevention with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and lane-keep assistance. Go for the Limited model and you also get adaptive cruise control, Highway Driving Assist, and rear parking sensors. So equipped, the Kona does a very good job of keeping you distanced from other traffic, reducing fatigue on a long highway trip.
- Efficiency: 132 City / 108 Highway / 120 Combined MPGe
- EV Range: 258 Miles
The 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric can go 258 miles per charge, an impressive number given the platform's relative age – by comparison, the 58.0-kWh Hyundai Ioniq 5 SE can only go 220 miles, despite costing about the same as the Kona Electric. Able to charge at up to 77 kilowatts, the Kona beats out most of its primary competition handily, although it can’t match the 200-plus-kW charge speeds of its Ioniq 5 and 6 siblings.
|Range||Max DC Charge Rate|
|Hyundai Kona EV||258 Miles||77 Kilowatts|
|Chevrolet Bolt EV||260 Miles||55 Kilowatts|
|Chevrolet Bolt EUV||247 Miles||55 Kilowatts|
|Kia Niro EV||253 Miles||77 Kilowatts|
|Nissan Leaf||212 Miles||46 Kilowatts|
- Base Price: $33,550 + $1,225 Destination
- Trim Base Price: $43,725
- As-Tested Price: $43,860
The Hyundai Kona Electric starts at just under $35,000 with destination (and sans any kind of incentives), which makes it an easy yes when compared to the 212-mile, $37,135 Nissan Leaf SV Plus. The Bolt and Bolt EUV are several grand less than the Kona with similar range ratings, though with cheaper interiors and slower public charging speeds.
The base Kona EV feels like a pretty good deal overall. However, at nearly $44,000, the Kona Electric Limited is a lot of cash. A loaded Chevy Bolt represents a savings of more than $10,000, or one could get a Bolt EUV with every option box ticked – including the excellent Super Cruise advanced driver assistance suite – for $37,990.
The Hyundai Kona Electric has good range ratings and a nice, well-equipped interior, making it a likable option among entry-level EVs. But slower charging speeds than more modern cars and a high price compared to the loss-leader Chevrolets dull the Kona’s luster a bit. Nevertheless, it’s still a likable, pleasant-driving EV for folks looking for a jack of all trades, with all the caveats that phrase implies.
2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Limited