2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
October 6, 2020

Buying tip

From our experience, the Kona Electric will be difficult to find in dealer stock if you’re not in California or on the West Coast. If this is what you want, be firm with your dealership.

features & specs

Limited FWD
SEL FWD
Ultimate FWD
MPG
NA
MPG
NA
MPG
NA
MSRP
$42,000
MSRP
$37,390
MSRP
$45,600

The 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric is hard to find in some U.S. markets, but it's one of the best affordable long-range electric vehicles.

What kind of car is the 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Kona Electric is a five-seat hatchback crossover that, because of its taller body and chunky details, some might actually see as an SUV. It’s an all-electric version of the popular Hyundai Kona, which we review separately. Its rivals are primarily other affordable long-range electric vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Kia Niro EV.

What’s new for the 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric?

Review continues below

The Kona Electric carries over to ’21 with no changes.

Is the Hyundai Kona Electric a good car?

The Kona Electric earns an overall rating of 6.8 out of 10. Its quirky styling, balanced performance priorities, roomy interior, good use of connected-vehicle tech, and a generous feature set all help lift its rating. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Before the arrival of a host of so-called dedicated electric vehicles on the way over the next several years, vehicles like the 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric serve an intended purpose—to bridge the gap from gasoline vehicles to EVs. 

With more than a 250-mile range, and a base price well under $40,000 before any of the many incentives and tax credits that might apply, the 2021 Kona Electric has a compelling combination for those aiming to go electric: an affordable price, great range, a solid factory warranty, and a familiar design with zero comfort or packaging compromises versus its gasoline equivalent. 

If it’s available where you are, it’s well worth considering. Unfortunately, the Kona Electric can be hard to find outside California and some California EV-mandate states. 

How much does the Hyundai Kona Electric cost?

The base Kona Electric SEL costs $38,365 after the destination charge, and considering the $7,500 federal EV tax credit many buyers will be able to apply, that means an effective price of $30,865. Additional incentives may be available at the state or regional/utility level.

A whole suite of active-safety features are included in the base Kona Electric SEL, plus heated front seats and an infotainment system offering both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Moving up to the top Ultimate model—starting at $46,575—gets you adaptive cruise control and a smart regenerative braking mode, and the middle Limited at $42,975 brings a moonroof and power driver’s seat. 

Where is the Hyundai Kona Electric made?

In South Korea.

5

2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

Styling

The 2021 Hyundai Kona has a lot going on visually, yet it all balances out.

Is the 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric good on gas?

It’s debatable. The 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric combines a lot of styling elements, with a hint of futurism and some downright wacky aspects. We give it a 6 out of 10 for styling, mainly just for how it feels balanced in all its varied design details, with respect that you might not agree with all of them.

The Kona Electric starts with the benign, somewhat technical, and somewhat outdoorsy look of the Kona and makes it, well, a little weirder. 

The Kona’s bubble-like roofline and distinctive floating-roof design are fashionable themes that fit right in with the crossover mainstream, and here they’re matched up with a grille-less front look and a somewhat lower ride height. The smattering of indentations in the front fascia—somewhere between the look of corrugated steel and bubble wrap in one—gives it a weirder look, though.

The interior design of the Kona Electric is more calm and collected. Some might also see too many silver-toned surfaces, although we like the look and how its rounded surfaces counter the edginess of the exterior. Altogether it’s classier than what gas versions of the Kona get. And because of the way touchscreens sit atop the dash, the entire instrument panel tends to draw focus to the reasonably sized 7.0-inch display in the SEL, the 8.0-inch one in the Limited or the mammoth 10.3-inch one in the Ultimate.

Review continues below
5

2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

Performance

The 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric isn’t tuned for performance, but it’s very entertaining to drive.

How fast is the Hyundai Kona Electric?

Compared to other affordably priced electric vehicles, it’s on the quick side—although don’t expect Tesla performance numbers. Hyundai’s official 0-60 mph time of 7.6 seconds has been beaten by up to a second by some test sources.

Although efficiency and going tailpipe-emissions-free are probably the main motivators behind choosing an all-electric model like the Kona Electric, there’s more performance fun here than you might think.

We give it 5 out of 10 in this category; it might have done better if the steering and suspension were set up more for performance than for comfort, but the priorities make sense.

Because of the big battery mounted below the floor, the Kona Electric has a lower center of gravity—aided by a lower ride height—compared to gasoline versions of the Kona. With 201 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque, the Kona Electric could be considered almost “hot” on paper; it definitely verges on a hot-hatch driving experience. Having multiple levels of regenerative braking, enabled through steering-wheel paddle-shifters, helps keep the driver in control and involved.

The electric powertrain is rated for 258 miles of range on a charge, which outside of the latest Bolt EV and its somewhat larger battery puts it right near the top of the entry-EV market for range—for thousands less than a base Tesla Model 3.

Is the Hyundai Kona Electric 4WD?

No. All versions of the Kona electric are front-wheel drive.

Review continues below
6

2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

Comfort & Quality

There’s a whole lot of practicality and comfort packed into the 2021 Kona Electric.

Is the Hyundai Kona Electric a comfortable car?

Surprisingly, yes. The Kona Electric can fit four adults, provided they’re not too lanky—with more versatility than you’ll find in many other hatchbacks with the same 165-inch length. Ride quality is impressive, too.

The 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric is based on a gasoline model, the Kona, and Hyundai has packaged this model almost exactly the same, with the big battery pack not eating into passenger or cargo space in any noticeable or noteworthy way. The most obvious differences are minor styling and functionality ones—including some tweaks to the instrument panel and its finishes, including a push-button shifter, mounted atop a “bridge-type center console with high-tech image.”

We cover the Kona separately, but give the EV version the same 6 out of 10.

In seating—especially in back—the Kona Electric doesn’t feel as cramped as other hatchbacks with about the same exterior dimensions. That’s because its side glass doesn’t taper aggressively inward toward the roof as with many other models, like the Chevy Bolt EV. The Kona Electric, like gas versions, offers 19.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and the rear seatbacks themselves fold flat.

Review continues below

2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

Safety

The 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric is equipped with all the star features for improving safety, but there aren’t any crash-test ratings to confirm with.

The gasoline versions of the Hyundai Kona are safety stars, with IIHS Top Safety Pick+ results and five-star federal results. Although the Kona Electric has basically the crème de la crème of the Kona’s safety-feature set, many of the fundamentals for this vehicle—like its weight, and where it carries that weight—are dramatically different, so it wouldn’t be prudent to extend those ratings. 

For that reason, we don’t rate it here. 

Is the Hyundai Kona Electric a safe car?
Going purely by safety features and quick assessments from the driver’s seat, the Kona Electric is stellar. Outward visibility is great, thanks to all the window space, and a bounty of active-safety features are all included: Automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and a driver attention monitor don’t cost extra.

Review continues below
8

2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

Features

There aren’t any features lacking here in the 2021 Kona Electric lineup, although the price of the top Ultimate can be tough to justify.

For a premium of more than $10,000 over gasoline versions of the 2021 Hyundai Kona, the Kona Electric gets one of the best fully electric powertrains in an affordable EV, plus a clear, intuitive interface and an impressive standard-feature list. 

We give it 8 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

How much does a 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric cost?

For $38,365 after the destination charge—but before any of the EV-focused incentives you might be eligible for—the Kona Electric isn’t the cheapest of the affordable EVs, but it comes with a strong feature set. Cloth upholstery, heated seats, a suite of active-safety features, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all included with the SEL. So is an excellent 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and 3-year/36,000-mile complimentary maintenance.

How much does a fully loaded Hyundai Kona Electric cost?

At the top of the lineup is the Ultimate trim, which includes active cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, parking sensors, navigation, a flip-up head-up display, a heated steering wheel, and ventilated front seats. It starts at $46,575.

The Limited version fits in between and boosts the infotainment screen size to 8.0 inches. Other key upgrades versus the SEL include a moonroof, wireless smartphone charging, a power driver’s seat, eight-speaker Infinity audio, upgraded headlights, and leather seats.

All said, we think the base SEL is the best deal. By the time you get to the price range of the other models, you’ll need to justify to neighbors why you didn’t consider other models like the upcoming VW ID.4 or Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Review continues below
10

2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

Fuel Economy

The 2021 Hyundai Kona EV offers great range ratings, though charge times aren’t all that impressive.

Is the 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric good on gas?

The Kona Electric doesn’t use any gas whatsoever. It offers 258 miles of EPA-rated range, and great efficiency ratings—which earns it a rating of 10 out of 10 here.

That makes it competitive with the Chevrolet Bolt EV, and not far from base Standard Range Plus versions of the Tesla Model 3.

Hyundai makes charging easy, with DC fast-charging rates up to about 70 kw enabling an 80% charge in 54 minutes or the 7.2-kw AC onboard charger allowing a charge time of about 9.5 hours on 240V. Three years of Blue Link telematics services can link in with Google Home and allow things like remote charging management and climate-control preconditioning.

Review continues below
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$37,390
MSRP based on SEL FWD
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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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2021 Hyundai Kona Electric Pricing Insights

  • 2020 and 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric
  • Lease: From $239 per month
  • Rebate: Up to $1,000 cash
  • Finance: 0.0% APR on the 2020s
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