2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Review: Charming But Flawed

2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Review: Charming But Flawed

Verdict 8.0 / 10 Design | Comfort | Technology | Performance | Safety | Fuel

Verdict

8.0 / 10

Design | Comfort | Technology | Performance | Safety | Fuel Economy | Pricing | FAQ

They’re cute, they’re compact, and they’re completely electric. Among the growing swath of budget EVs, the updated 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric is one of the more interesting options of the bunch. It has unique styling, great range, and a decent crop of technology and safety equipment depending on how you spec it. The car pictured here, for example, is a top-trim Limited model, so it’s loaded with all the good stuff.

But once you get past the Kona’s cuteness, Hyundai’s compact EV fails to nail some of the basics. It’s down on space and lacking in performance, and it costs way too much compared to alternatives like the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf. In this case, the Kona’s quirky looks only take it so far.

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Quick Stats 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Limited
Motor: Single Permanent-Magnet Synchronous
Output: 201 Horsepower / 291 Pound-Feet
0-60 MPH: 7.6 Seconds
Base Price: $34,000 + $1,245 Destination Charge
As-Tested Price: $44,240

Design

6/10

  • Exterior Color: Lunar White
  • Interior Color: Black
  • Wheel Size: 17 Inches

The biggest styling difference between the Kona Electric and its gas-powered sibling is – most obviously – the grille. Or rather, the lack thereof. The Kona adopts the “surgical mask” styling pioneered by Tesla, meant to give it a more streamlined look. And with the Lunar White paint job, the Kona Electric further enhances its sleek appearance.

Gray plastic cladding at the base of the bumper joins the invisible grille, with a unique split light fixture that puts the headlights in the middle of the bumper. The charging port sits atop the face too, which clashes with the otherwise ultra-smooth front end. And the wheels on the Electric model are unique; 17-inch aerodynamic rims wrapped in low-resistance rubber.

Much like the front end, the Kona Electric’s cabin is a stark departure from the gas model. This version swaps the traditional shift lever for a button layout while at the same time coating the center console in a shiny silver plastic rather than the traditional black. It’s not our favorite texture. The steering wheel and seats both wear real leather – no vegan-friendly materials here – and buyers can choose from two basic but bland colors: gray or black.

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Comfort

6/10

  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
  • Cargo Capacity: 19.2 / 45.8 Cubic Feet

The Kona Electric gets an immediate ding for its tight dimensions. It has less headroom and legroom than a comparable Chevrolet Bolt or Nissan Leaf – and it definitely feels tighter inside. The second row was cramped for me, with barely any room to stretch my legs. And as far as cargo goes, trunk space is middling; the Kona’s 19.2 cubes behind the second row are worse than in the Leaf, and its 45.8 cubes when flat are way down compared to the Bolt.

  Headroom, Front/Rear Legroom, Front/Rear Cargo Volume, Second Row Up/Down
Hyundai Kona Electric 39.6 / 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
Nissan Leaf 41.2 / 37.3 Inches 42.1 / 33.5 Inches 23.5 / 30.0 Cubic Feet

Space issues aside, the Kona is pretty comfy otherwise. Its pliable ride soaks up imperfect pavement and impressive sound deadening means barely any wind or tire noise enters the cabin, even at highway speeds. The leather seats are cushy and contour well to the body. The driver’s chair offers eight-way power adjustabilty and lumbar support alongside standard heating.

Technology & Connectivity

7/10

  • Center Display: 10.3-Inch Touchscreen
  • Instrument Cluster Display: 10.3 Inches
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: No

Opting for the Limited trim gets you the brand’s ubiquitous 10.3-inch touchscreen and corresponding 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster, standard on nearly all top-end Hyundai models. The home screen layout is logical, clean, and easy to use, while touch responsiveness is snappy.

But Hyundai loses points for limiting wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the smaller 8.0-inch screen. The larger display tested here only has a wired connection. And while there are two USB-A ports up front and one in the rear for charging, there are no USB-C ports anywhere to be found. Another minor ding.

Beyond that, things like wireless phone charging, a crystal clear, eight-speaker Harmon Kardon premium audio system, and Hyundai Digital Key come standard. Digital Key is an app that allows you to lock, unlock, and start your vehicle remotely.

Performance & Handling

5/10

  • Motor: Single Permanent-Magnet Synchronous
  • Output: 201 Horsepower / 291 Pound-Feet
  • Transmission: Single-Speed Automatic

Speedy the Kona Electric is not. Its 64.0-kilowatt-hour battery pack and single electric motor produce 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet. That’s just enough to motivate the Kona to 60 miles per hour in 7.6 seconds, or more than a second slower than the Bolt. As with any EV, though, instant torque yields decent pep off the line and gives the Kona some zip around town. But the Electric model lacks all-wheel drive; front-wheel drive is the only type.

In the corners, the Kona EV is only about as exciting as a Honda CR-V. The Bolt, by comparison, feels more agile. The Kona Electric’s steering is well-weighted but not totally responsive, yielding some vague inputs when you really pin it. The suspension is squishy, too, and even with the floor-mounted battery pack giving the Kona good balance, there is a noticeable amount of body roll.

Tug on the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters to access the Kona Electric’s regenerative braking system, available in levels from zero (no regen) to four. In the most aggressive setting, the Kona allows for nearly one-pedal driving; the EV doesn’t come to a full stop unless you hit the brakes, but it’s strong enough for generous usage around town. When using the standard brakes, they feel a touch too grabby.

Safety

9/10

  • Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
  • NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
  • IIHS Rating: Not Rated

The Hyundai Kona Electric is stacked with safety equipment out of the box. Both the SEL trim and the Limited model tested here feature standard automatic emergency braking with a forward-collision warning, a lane-departure system with lane centering and lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and more.

Opting for the Limited model adds adaptive cruise control with Highway Driving Assist – basically the brand’s advanced active safety suite. Ticking adaptive cruise with HDA activates automatic braking, throttle, and steering inputs, with a distance indicator that keeps track of the vehicle ahead of you. And on the highway, all of the Kona’s active safety features worked well and as intended, keeping the vehicle composed in the lane.

Fuel Economy

7/10

  • Range: 258 Miles
  • Combined MPGe: 120
  • Charge Time: 9 Hours @ 140 Volts / 1 Hour @ 240 Volts / 47 Minutes @ 77 Kilowatts

The Hyundai Kona Electric has 258 miles of range, which is among the best in the class. Of its direct competitors, the Kona is second to the Bolt – but only by a single mile (259 miles). At 75.0 kilowatts, the Kona also has an above-average charging rate, with the Kia Niro EV being the slightly better of the two with a max charging rate of 77.0 kW.

Plug into a DC fast charging station and the Kona Electric recharges to 80 percent in 47 minutes. At a Level 2 charger, it takes 64 minutes to reach 80 percent, and using its onboard charger (7.2 kW), it takes the Kona 9 hours and 15 minutes to rejuice.

In my week with the Kona Electric, which included a generous amount of highway driving and some city miles, I recorded 3.9 miles per kilowatt-hour. That’s well above average compared to some of the other EVs I’ve driven and nearly as good as some of the best Teslas according to our colleagues at InsideEVs.

Pricing

4/10

  • Base Price: $34,000 + $1,245 Destination Charge
  • Trim Base Price: $43,685
  • As-Tested Price: $44,240

The 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric is priced decently if you go with the base SEL model. That version costs $35,245 with the $1,245 destination fee included, and the lone Convenience package – which tacks on a sunroof, power seats, and more – is an additional $3,500. That’s still not as affordable as a Bolt ($31,995) or Leaf ($28,425), but not far off.

Opting for the Limited model is where things start to get pricey. The top-end trim costs $43,685 before options, with the Lunar White paint ($400) and dealer-installed floor mats ($155) on this car bringing the final asking price to $44,240. You couldn’t build a Bolt EV that pricey if you tried, and even a fully loaded Leaf SL costs less than $40,000.

As good as Highway Driving Assist is – which is the only major upgrade on the Limited trim – the $8,000 gulley between the two trims is hard to swallow. That’s made worse by the fact that Chevy offers Super Cruise on the Bolt EUV for less than the starting price of the Kona Electric Limited.

That said, the Kona Electric is still a solid EV, with likable styling, ample comfort, and great range. Plus it has an above-average charging rate. But its cramped interior and the Limited trim’s over-the-top price tag makes it a hard sell among more affordable options with many of the same features.

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