2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
August 27, 2019

Buying tip

If you live in California or other states with good EV infrastructure, the Kona Electric is a perfect fit. If not… try begging your local Hyundai dealer.

At under $30,000 after tax credits, the 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric is a great-value, high-range EV… even if it isn’t available everywhere.

The $30,000, 250-mile range EV is already here, and it’s not a Tesla. The 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric offers great value, great range, and a great factory warranty with a mass-market badge. It’s truly a shame it’s not available everywhere. 

We give it a rating of 6.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2020, the Kona Electric receives minimal changes, mostly among options shuffled within its trims.

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The Kona Electric is based on the Hyundai Kona, the Korean brand’s funky-looking, city-friendly subcompact crossover. With a lower ride height and sleeker styling, the Kona Electric is more of a hatchback, but we’re splitting hairs here. It blends the Kona’s wacky styling with futuristic EV touches with mixed results, but the interior is both high-quality and refreshingly reserved.

At 201 horsepower served up by an electric motor and a big battery, the Kona Electric accelerates with hot-hatchback feel, but its most important figure is the estimated range. Hyundai and the EPA claim the Kona Electric is capable of 258 miles of driving range, which is competitive with the Chevrolet Bolt, lower trims of the Tesla Model 3, and better than the much more expensive EVs from luxury marques like Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

The Kona Electric fits four adults, though not perfectly comfortably, and offers about as much cargo space as a small hatchback should.

Active safety features come standard, as well as heated front seats, keyless ignition, 17-inch wheels, two USB chargers, and a great 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Bluetooth. Better yet, Hyundai’s excellent 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty is included. At $37,495 (after $1,045 destination charge) – or $29,995 including a $7,500 federal tax credit for some buyers – the entry-level Kona Electric is one of the most affordable ways to go EV.

Unfortunately, it’s only available in California and other coastal states with strict emissions rules, but Hyundai claims dealers are able to order it nationwide. Our experience says differently, but perhaps that will be the case over time.

5

2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

Styling

The 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric is not better to look at in EV form, but the interior is classier than the gas-powered car.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric takes the already-wacky Kona and futurizes it, but with mixed results. We give it 5 out of 10 for styling, down one for its exterior but up one for the interior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With a grille-less front and lower ride height for aerodynamic purposes, the Kona Electric is very clearly an efficiency-oriented vehicle, but next to more conventional vehicles, the bubble-like hatchback shape looks more odd than distinctive. The “floating roof” design is tame on the electric version of the Kona, with only body-color roof options available.

Inside, the Kona Electric takes what was already a good cabin in the standard car and makes it better, dominating attention towards the center stack and the great 7.0-inch (or optional 8.0-inch) touchscreen. In lieu of contrasting colors and wacky design elements, the Kona Electric features silver surfaces that look more upscale.

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5

2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

Performance

The 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric offers up a dose of fun with its impressive range rating of 258 miles.

The main attraction of any EV is efficiency, but the 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric pulls it off with a bit of fun. We give it 5 out of 10 in this category. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

A lower ride height and center of gravity thanks to a big battery and electric motor make for more of a hatchback-like experience than the standard Kona, and with 201 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque, the Kona Electric could be considered almost “hot” on paper.

The 150-kw electric powertrain is also good for 258 miles, which not only puts it right at the top of the entry-level EV market, but also makes the Kona Electric competitive with the likes of Tesla for a serious discount.

Though power figures may suggest some fun, the suspension and steering are set up more for comfort than sport, but this little lightning bug can hustle when asked. We’ve driven it through north Georgia mountains and marveled at its brisk acceleration and snappy feel off the line, but noted that its substantial battery-pack weight are a harbinger of all things electric: It’s going to be tough to make any battery-powered car feel truly nimble, due to weight alone.


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6

2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric offers the same build quality and practicality as the standard version.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric is nearly identical inside to the standard vehicle minus some tweaks to the center stack. We cover the Kona separately, but give the EV version 6 out of 10 as well. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Thanks to some clever packaging, the Kona’s ample batteries don’t eat into passenger or cargo space. Both the gas- and electron-powered versions offer 19.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and room for four adults with decent head room, albeit a somewhat cramped cabin.

The center console has been changed on the EV to look more futuristic and upscale, and features a push-button shifter as well as silver accents around and below its 7.0-inch (or optional 8.0-inch) touchscreen infotainment system.

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2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

Safety

The 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric lacks crash test data but does include active safety tech as standard.

While the regular Kona is a safety star, the 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric hasn’t been rated for crashworthiness and we’re not sure when it will be. As such, we can’t give it a rating here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The standard Kona received a Top Safety Pick+ award last year from the IIHS and five stars from the federal government, but with a big battery pack and a different powertrain, we’re not sure how the electric version would fare under the same tests.

Regardless, active safety technologies like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and a driver attention monitor are all standard, and outward vision is good. That would merit a 7 in this category, if its crash-test scores were merely average.

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2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

Features

The only feature about the 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric that we don’t like is its limited availability.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric asks several thousand dollars more than its internal combustion counterpart but includes impressive standard features to boot. We give it 8 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base Kona Electric SEL comes with cloth upholstery, active safety features, heated seats, 17-inch wheels, two USB chargers, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and keyless ignition. Hyundai also throws in its excellent 5-year, 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, which is a comforting addition for what is essentially brand-new tech for the company. The Kona Electric’s battery warranty extends for the life of the car, for the original owner.

At $37,495 after destination charge, the SEL is excellent value, especially considering the $7,500 tax credit for most buyers that drops the total cost just below $30,000.

The Limited trim boosts the infotainment screen size to 8.0 inches, and includes a power driver’s seat, premium Infinity audio, upgraded headlights, and leather seats, but at a cost of $4,700 more. Ultimate trim Kona Electric models include stop-and-go active cruise control, parking sensors, navigation, and more for $3,500 on top of the Limited model.

We wouldn’t consider anything but the base model, as its relatively low price and identical performance and range ratings make it a steal, if you’re even able to buy one where you live.

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10

2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric offers an extremely competitive 258 miles of range but somewhat slow charging times.

Electric vehicles – especially those with 250-plus miles of range – warrant praise for fuel economy. Naturally, the 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric earns a rating of 10 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Both Hyundai and the EPA rate the Kona Electric for 258 miles of driving range on a full battery, making it competitive with more affordable range leaders like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and even the Tesla Model 3.

According to Hyundai, the Kona Electric will be able to fill a depleted battery 80 percent in 54 minutes on a level-3 100-kw fast charger. Unfortunately, these chargers are only available in certain areas and limited numbers—so while it isn’t particularly convenient, the high range is tantalizing, especially for a total cost of under $30,000 after the $7,500 federal tax credit.

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6.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 10
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