A mindful soul and the spirit of an SUV.
If you’re on the hunt for an electric car that hits everything on your must-have list, the Hyundai Kona Electric might just steal your heart.
That’s because Hyundai’s approach to the design of alternative fuel cars is to adapt the system— electric, hybrid, fuel cell or plug-in electric hybrid— into the cars you already love. After all, a car doesn’t need to look efficient to be efficient, right?
Then, the Kona Electric is all that electric love in a crossover, ideal for city driving and capable of all that we ask our crossovers to do: Haul cargo, people and pets in a comfortable, well equipped car.
Who This Car is For:
- Buyers who want an all-electric car
- Buyers in areas where charging options abound, mostly California but increasingly in New York, Texas, Florida and Georgia
- Drivers who can mostly charge their car at home, which is where most electric cars are charged
- Drivers who can recharge their car within the 258-mile range
- Drivers who want a crossover for space and flexibility
- Buyers who want the hottest new thing in design and technology
What This Car Costs
- Hyundai has not released pricing yet but estimates are that it will be priced similarly to the Chevrolet Bolt, which starts at about $36,000 and fully loaded is about $40,000
- Lease prices are estimated to be about $400 a month
- Buyers may benefit from a $7,500 federal tax incentive
- Buyers may also benefit from a state tax incentive
- Maintenance costs can be significantly less than a gas car– no oil changes!
Kona Electric Versus Kona Gas: Identical … Cousins?
These two look very similar on the outside: Both have a rough and ready exterior designed for drivers who love SUVs. From wide-set wheels that give a steady grip of the road to a cabin with plenty of headroom and seating for 4 or 5 passengers, a cargo hatch that is large and easy for storing and retrieving things and rear seats that fold flat for even more cargo. Both models represent what we love about crossovers.
The similarities continue with the drive experience: Both accelerate smoothly, are fun to drive and capable on both highways and city streets.
The Kona Electric takes off from there. The benefits of an electric car go far beyond just being able to fuel your car with electricity. Here’s what I loved about driving the Kona Electric:
- It will get an estimated 258 miles on a charge; recharging is expected to replenish 125 miles of range in 30 minutes and 80% of a full charge in 54 minutes when using a fast charger
- One pedal driving: You can virtually never use your brakes. You not only potentially save on brake replacement, but controlling one pedal is just easier, especially in heavy city traffic
- Regenerative braking: you can actually recharge the battery as you drive. On downhill declines especially, but also in city traffic, lift your foot off the accelerator and the engine slows, forcing the unused engine power back into the battery
- A regenerative paddle adds power to the battery: pull the left paddle on the back of the steering wheel and the Kona feeds even more power to the battery. You can significantly slow the car and even stop it with the regenerative paddle.
- Three drive modes that let you decide how much power you use, and how much you return to the battery. Select sport mode and the Kona’s zippy engine is power-forward; select eco and the system recoups energy everywhere it can
- The charge port door is in the front grille so it’s easy to reach, especially when you pull into a designated EV charging space or the outlets in your garage are on the interior wall of the garage.
Paddle Shifters For the Digital Age
We have come to know paddle shifters on performance cars as a way to change gears for increased performance on the track or in a challenging (= fun) driving situation. Then, we got to know paddle shifters as a way to ease off the brakes on steep downhill descents. Now meet the paddle shifters that adjust the amount of power that is fed into the battery: Kona’s -level regeneration system that lets you set the amount of regen you want on your drive.
Essentially, the more regeneration you have the quicker the car’s power drops when you lift your foot off the accelerator. So set it to regen level 1 and the Kona Electric drives like most any car. But set it at 4 and you feel a distinct drop in power and speed, almost as if heavy braking were taking place, because, essentially, it is (oh, and yes, the brake lights do come on when the regen system is slowing the car!).
The system works like this: pull the right paddle shifter to increase the regen level — 1, 2, 3 or 4; pull the left paddle to reduce the regen level. Hold the left paddle down for instant regeneration.
All the Tech Goodies to Keep an Early Adopter Happy
Typically the modern tech features in an EV are focused on driver feedback to help the driver be more efficient. While the Kona Electric has that, there are some other goodies too, such as wireless phone charging, a head up display (which we LOVE) and all the great Hyundai phone and Bluelink apps. You can start your car, monitor your charge level and more from your phone, smartwatch or Alexa. Isn’t that nifty?
And from there Hyundai has loaded the Kona with heated seats, a heated steering wheel and its most modern suite of active safety features, including adaptive cruise control, cross path detection, blind spot warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beam headlights and rain sensing wipers.
The Kona Electric Car, and Its Price, Coming Soon
Hyundai hasn’t announced pricing for the Kona Electric, which will make it into dealerships sometime in the next few months and will likely be more plentiful in California and cities with electric charging infrastructure. And no doubt when it does it’ll continue to push the desire of car buyers to think electric since everything you love in a car can now be had in an EV, too.
Disclosure: I was Hyundai’s guest for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided. All opinions are my own.