Contributing Author: Craig Fitzgerald
Key Take Aways
- In a world of futuristic EVs, the Kona is a regular car, relatively affordably priced, that does everything your compact crossover does without requiring a gas pump.
- It’s possible to live with this vehicle and have nothing but the 110V charger it comes with.
- EVs like this are less sexy than the Teslas of the world, but they’re going to be the ones selling in great numbers eventually.
- Completely capable at highway speed.
- Even more adept at local commutes.
- Decent-sized, conventional cargo area.
- The charging port is in an odd location.
- Not the most exciting product in Hyundai’s lineup
Who is This Vehicle for?
Anyone who bought a gas-powered compact crossover. This is easily a first step into the EV market.
The Hyundai Kona debuted in the United States in the 2020 model year. The 2022 model is a redesign, but the basics of its electric performance are essentially the same as the 2020, with a 258-mile range. New for 2022:
- Updated front fascia
- New headlamps and DRLs
- New alloy wheel design for more efficient airflow
- New rear bumper and lower valence
- New center stack and center cluster displays with 10.25-inch screen, wireless charging
It seems like every week, some manufacturer is bragging about its new $100,000-plus, 750-hp equivalent EV. Just last week, Mercedes-Benz showed off the 2023 EQE and EQS SUV and sedan here in New England, with 751-hp and a price tag befitting the Tristar badge. It’s the model that Tesla took with the Model S when it realized that nobody was really interested in the bottom-feeding Nissan Leaf, no matter how revolutionary it really was. An econobox with a range limited to 100 miles wasn’t going to move the needle in EV sales.
But now we’re at a point when EVs are making a solid push into the mainstream. Cars like the Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and Ford Mustang Mach-E have all proven that an EV can be exciting and interesting, while vehicles like the Ford F-150 Lightning and GMC Hummer EV are showing that electric power can be BETTER at certain things than gas power can be.
But all of those vehicles have set the market at $55,000 plus. As equipped, our tested Lighting was well over $90,000. The Hummer EV is over $100k. Yes, inflation is here, and the average cost of a car is higher than it’s ever been, but your average Jane is still not spending $75k on a vehicle. They’re camped out in the $35,000 to $40,000 range.
That’s where the Hyundai Kona Electric comes in: It delivers real-world range of 258 miles on a charge, in a package that’s affordable for the average new car buyer. Factor in the full $7,500 tax credit and even fully equipped the way our tested version was, and the Hyundai Kona comes in cheaper than the cost of your average new car in 2022.
If you’ve been in the market for a compact crossover in the last few years – think Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR – the Hyundai Kona Electric is frankly a better car, and in the long run is going to cost a lot less money to operate, own and maintain.
The Kona is a whole lineup of vehicles from Hyundai. On one end of the spectrum, you get the Kona Electric. On the other, you get the sporty, gas-powered N-Line. The big tell that this is an EV is the nearly smooth front fascia where a grille should be. In previous years, this was a dimpled panel, but the designers have smoothed it out and better integrated the headlamps and daytime running lamps.
As compact crossovers go, the Kona Electric looks like everything else. It’s getting harder and harder to distinguish one of these vehicles from another because everything in this class looks exactly the same. There’s no advantage or disadvantage in terms of exterior styling, aside from some objective style choices that make airflow over the Kona Electric’s body and wheels more smoothly, thereby providing greater efficiency.
One minor demerit for the Kona Electric is the location of the charging port. Most of the EVs we’ve driven in the last year have the charging port on the left side, near the driver’s door. If for no other reason, it’s convenient there because you tend to see it when you unplug the car and close it before you get back inside. The charging port in the nose seems convenient because you can slot into a parking spot nose-in and have access to the charger, but every single time we unplugged the Kona Electric, we left the charging door open, and got a series of angry beeps from the car as we attempted to drive off.
The other slightly bothersome note is the length of the supplied 110V “Level 1” charging cable. Every other vehicle seems to have miles of cord, while the Kona was markedly shorter. With the Kia EV6, for example, we could park it perpendicular to the garage opening with enough room to back a car out, while we still had enough cord to reach the outlet and close the garage door. Even with the charging port in the nose, the cable was too short to close the garage door.
Frankly, though, most people are going to have a Level 2 charger in the garage and this becomes a moot point.
The thing you’ll most notice about the Kona Electric is how unremarkable the interior is. It’s exactly like any other Hyundai product. It’s not trying to wow you with exciting screens, or deceive you into thinking the interior is bigger with white or light gray interior panels and upholstery. This is nearly identical to the interior you’ll find in a vehicle like the Hyundai Elantra or the Hyundai Tucson.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, because Hyundai happens to make one of the best non-luxury interiors in the entire automotive marketplace. This last batch of product from Hyundai feels comfortable in any size. There’s familiarity in all of the products, and they all get a lot of things right. The HVAC interface is perfect, and so is the infotainment interface. The gauge package is easy to read, and the buttons on the steering wheel are lighted and simple to operate. That’s more than we can say for a lot of uber-expensive luxury cars in 2022.
The rear seat offers plenty of room. We had four fully grown humans in the Kona Electric and everyone had decent head and legroom. You could conceivably get a fifth person in the second row but you wouldn’t want to ride that way for long. The emphasis here is on compact crossover, and where you tend to lose a lot of room is width.
The cargo area is a good size and shape. We folded the seats and put a twin bedframe in a long box inside, and ran it from the rear corner of the cargo area into the passenger side footwell up front. The cargo area comes with a cover for stashing things you don’t want passersby to see.
There’s 19.2-cu.ft. of cargo space with the seats raised, and 45.8 with the seats folded down. Plenty for the kind of stowage most compact crossover owners are after.
Honesty time: When the Kona Electric showed up, we were slightly disappointed because we had a 125-mile trip to Maine planned and I was concerned about charging. But, we’ve been singing the praises of electric vehicles for a while now and if we were going to continue to do so, we needed to live with any limitations, too.
As it turns out, there weren’t any. With the kind of Level 2 charger most Kona Electric owners will install at home, you’re looking at a 9 hour and 15 minute charge time from 10 percent to 100 percent. At a 50kW DC Fast Charger, a charge from 10 percent to 80 percent takes 64 minutes. At one of the 100kW Level III chargers, that drops to 47 minutes.
Only over the course of a week of driving to Portland, Maine, running around the city, and driving back home again, we never used anything other than the 110V charging cable. The Kona has a relatively small 64kW battery. When we arrived in Maine, we had about 130 miles of range left, pulled in the garage, and plugged it into the wall. By morning, we had a full charge, ready to go the next day. We just topped off overnight off of wall current all week, and never had an issue.
The stated 258-mile range seemed accurate as we made our rounds. The temperature never dropped below 40, so we weren’t able to determine whether the range would’ve been depleted, but the Kona Limited is standard with a heat pump that should limit any significant range depletion in the cold.
The Kona EV spooled up to highway speed faster than a Kona with a conventional gas engine. It gets to 60 in 6.4 seconds, which is competitive with any non-performance vehicle in this class.
It stayed at 75 mph on the highway with loads of headroom to go faster. Traffic was brutal on the peak weekend for Leaf Looking tourism in New England, and the Kona Limited’s standard Smart Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go maintained a safe following distance to the leaf-peepers in front of us, even down to a dead stop.
The Limited trim hovers around $42,000, and includes all of the technology you’d expect in a 2022 model-year vehicle. It’s making luxury vehicles a much harder proposition when you get high-quality technology in a package priced like this.
The Limited is standard with a harman/kardon premium audio system with eight speakers, Park Distance Warning, Rain Sensing Wipers, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Smart Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, and High Beam Assist.
All of this technology is well integrated into the cabin. We’ve had the opportunity to sample pretty much everything in the Hyundai lineup, and with the relative exception of the Uconnect system from Mopar, we’ve put this at the top of the heap of any vehicle manufacturer, including luxury players like Mercedes-Benz.
2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Limited
- $44,340 (including $1,245 destination charge) – as tested
- $42,500 – base price
- How we’d spec it: Pretty much exactly like this, but Hyundai has a lot of chutzpah charging a $400 premium for white paint.
|2022 Hyundai Kona Electric||Price: (Not including $7,500 tax credit) |
Permanent magnet synchronous 150kWh electric motor
|Vehicle Type: Compact crossover|
|Transmission: single speed reduction gear||Dimensions: |
Width: 70.9 (including mirrors)
Passenger Volume: (Not Listed)
Trunk Volume: 19.2 cu.ft. (45.8 maximum)
Curb Weight: 3,836
|Horsepower: 150kW (201hp)||EPA Fuel Economy: TBD|
|Torque: 291-lb.ft.||Warranty: |
Basic: 5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain: 10 years/100,000 miles
Battery 10 years/100,000 miles
|0-60 mph: 6.4-sec (est.)|
Craig Fitzgerald began his automotive writing career in 1996, at AutoSite.com, one of the first online resources for car buyers. Over the years, he’s written for the Boston Globe, Forbes, and Hagerty. For seven years, he was the editor at Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car, and today, he’s the automotive editor at Drive magazine. He’s dad to a son and daughter, and plays rude guitar in a garage band in Worcester, Massachusetts.