The 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric
Disguised as an unassuming electric vehicle, the Kona Electric is a badass crossover that will impress the most critical EV suspects…. kind of like Keyser Söze.
This electric Kona is Hyundai’s second fully electric vehicle. The Ioniq was the first which came out in 2017. This early-ish electric adoption has helped Hyundai have a leg up on some of the other manufacturers who continue to hold back on EV productions (I’m looking at you Toyota).
Having driven other EVs with similar price points, I can tell you that Hyundai is bang on with this car. They’ve done a great job offering some of the desirable features that other carmakers have left out while still keeping battery efficiency as the top priority.
I will mainly focus on some of these features in this review. If you are new to exploring electric vehicles, you may think that a sunroof, for example, is a basic feature to get excited about in a 2019 model. But keep in mind that electric vehicles are still very new. The first electric car to be in full production was the Nissan Leaf in 2010, and there were no other EVs on the market until two years later with the Tesla Model S. Since then EVs have been very slow to take momentum for several reasons, one being the high purchase prices. The battery remains as the most expensive part of the vehicle and so installing simple, and cost-effective features were the only option to keep prices affordable.
Now as the technology has advanced and the efficiency of the batteries continues to improve, the costs are also slowly decreasing. This has allowed the automakers to experiment with higher quality materials and more advanced features; hence why a power sunroof is so exciting on this Kona.
The unassuming exterior:
The Kona electric is available in two trim lines; Preferred and Ultimate. I spent 24 hours with the Ultimate trim and would have “Preferred” if they had labeled it with a name that wasn’t so identified by another brand… you know the one. This Ultimate Kona electric starts at $51,999 CAN.
This is the first sub-compact SUV to offer over 400kms of electric range. With the popularity of SUVs in the North American market, this size gap was a big deciding facture for those who wanted to make the leap to an electric vehicle.
I like the closed embossed grill. Hyundai decided to put the charging port in the front grill and make that part of its design statement. It’s different and gives it its own unique electric-vehicle look and feel.
The roof rack side rails are standard on both trim levels — not an available feature on many other EVs at the moment.
Also, the Ceramic Blue is by far the coolest colour I’ve seen on an EV. The one I had was called Galactic Grey.
Performance and Safety:
Versatile and very fun-to-drive. The car sits high and offers a wide view through the front and rear windshield (As a shorty, this is always the first and most important thing I note in a car). The narrow A-pillars are less of an obstruction when making side views and allow for easier shoulder checks.
This FWD electric engine offers three driving modes; Regular, Eco, and Sport. At each mode, the car automatically changes it’s powertrain response and steering feel while simultaneously adjusting the temperature in the cabin. For example, if the heat is cranked up and the drive mode is changed to Eco, the heat will adjust to cooler and the suspension will level. These adjustments will naturally change the range as well. Eco will maximize efficiency while Sport mode will drive up torque and use more range.
The regenerative braking is killer good! (As it should be on every EV). Not only is it very responsive and will continuously add range while you’re using the one-pedal driving, but it’s also adjustable. The steering-wheel paddle shifts allow four regen response levels. This feature is key for the people who prefer to coast and not have to keep their foot on the accelerator.
The list of safety features on this vehicle is lengthy and is part of what Hyundai calls their SmartSense safety technology which includes; Lane Departure Warning, Drive Attention Warning, Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Parking Distance Warning and a slew of other Warnings and “Assist” features. Please make sure you are aware of all the safety features in a newly purchased vehicle and that you are familiar with how to turn these features on and off. These are automated features that will take control of the car with or without you willing. This is not solely inclusive to this vehicle, but to any new car with an extended list of automated safety Warnings and Assists. Take the time to review all the settings with your delivery specialist before taking over the car – This concludes my Public Service Announcement for the day. You may carry on now.
Rear windshield wipers are convenient and a safety feature if you ask me and the Kona electric offers that. (I can see how some would say it’s an eyesore and not necessary, and I wonder if this is why none of the Tesla models include it).
Range and Charging:
At a full charge, Hyundai’s official range on the Kona electric is 415km. That’s impressive!!
The car has a 64kwh lithium-ion battery capacity that can output 150kW of power from its electric engine (or 201hp). This 1,685 kg SUV has 290 lb-ft of torque and can do 0-100km/h in 7.6 seconds.
The vehicle has Level 2 and Level 3 charging capability.
Level 2 charging is the most commonly used speed of charging. You can get an electrician to install a level 2 charger in your garage or driveway. If you are charging at home, you will most likely charge overnight and take advantage of lower electricity charges. It will take about 9 hours for a full charge on Level 2.
Level 3 charging is currently the fastest way to charge an EV. Fast charging stations are only publicly available and cost more than level 2 charging. It will take an hour or so to charge up to 80% (which is the recommended daily charge).
This five-passenger has a spacious front cabin with ample legroom and storage compartments.
The front seats are heated and ventilated, keeping the leather cooler and less sticky for the hot-blooded folks (which is not me cause I’m actually a vampire and keep my heated seats on 365 days of the year).
The power sunroof welcomes the open air, especially when you have a silent engine to enjoy the outdoors.
The best part of the interior though is the steering wheel. The three-spoke design is the control center for all the most commonly used features such as; cruise control, audio controls, and the voice-activated dial. It’s leather wrapped and heated and will make you feel like you’re navigating a hovercraft (also because the car has that Jetsons electric sound effect when it accelerates and you feel like you’re in the future...like INNN the future).
The back seats offer a slightly smaller space, but they do allow for a larger cargo area. With the seats up there is an available 544L capacity and 1,296L with the seats down (so it would fit a few dead bodies, in case Verbal wants to know).
Infotainment and Technology:
The dashboard consists of a 7” screen that allows the driver to monitor the regen-braking level, speed, electric power, and charge level. The center media screen is an 8” colour touch display that controls a variety of setting and preferences. It connects to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and has AM/FM/SiriusXM/MP3 (for that one person who still uses MP3s). It has onboard Navigation and a savvy EV Tech screen with all the battery data and information.
It’s easy to shuffle through the screens, but it still might feel a little repetitive at first.
Then there is a Head-Up Display. It pops up on a clear frame above the dashboard to display the speed and navigation commands. The idea of the HUD is to make it easy to see important information within your line of sight, and although I loved it at first (because I don’t have one in my Model 3), I’m not sure how I feel about it now. This vehicle already has a dashboard, so I’m not sure it needs the HUD. Three different screens displaying information for you can be distracting. The HUD works instead of the dashboard in my opinion, not in addition to it.
The shifter is comprised of four buttons places on the center console – different than what I’ve seen in other EVs, and I liked it.
A charging pad and a USB key sit covered underneath the large climate control buttons.
BlueLink is the App that Hyundai offers with a complimentary five-year subscription. Once connected you can remotely start the cabin temperature in the car, lock/unlock the doors, locate the car and other useful safety accesses from your mobile device.
That sums up the basics on the car. There are some great video reviews to watch as well. Here is one of my favourites.
The Hyundai website is very informative and breaks down all the features on the vehicle in both trim lines. It also has a “Compare” tab where you are select other EV makes and models and compare their features with the Kona electric.
The site also links to popular reviews and videos that are fun to watch. If you are interested in making the switch to an EV, I would highly recommend the Kona electric as a valid option. Visit your local Hyundai store for test-drives and let me know what you think.
Shout-out to the good people who made this post possible; Milton Hyundai, Deinah Lawrence and Meghan Hefford xoxo