2024 Hyundai Kona Electric First Drive: Better than the Gas Model?

Future-forward design, an expansive new multimedia system and premium features propel the 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric quietly past the gas-powered model

Look How Futuristic The Exterior Of The Hyundai Kona Electric Is.
Look how futuristic the exterior of the Hyundai Kona EV is. Photo: Connie Peters

Dare I Say It’s Better? Yes!

Someone asked me on social media if I’d choose the redesigned 2024  Hyundai Kona over the (iconic) Ioniq 5 electric SUV, and it took me all of a split second to say yes, I would choose this one. It’s just prettier, in my opinion.

The Kona Electric, priced from $32K USD, was redesigned for 2024, giving it a larger frame, more interior pace, more premium features and both a gas-powered version and an electric model with up to 260 miles of range.

The bonus to the electric model, however, is that it has some new features that even the gas-powered version does not.

I love the sleek lines of the new Kona; it’s unique, geometric, and cool looking, much more so than the outgoing version. 

And this new Meta Blue color hits the nail on the head for a more premium look. Aesthetically it has more beautiful design elements that are also unique over the gas-powered version. 

Related: Hyundai Ioniq 6: A Sleek Electric Thrill 

The Electric Hyundai Kona Is Stunning In This Shade Of Blue.

The electric Hyundai Kona is stunning in this shade of blue. Photo: Connie Peters

Trims and Range in the Hyundai Kona Electric

In the US, the Kona Electric is offered in three trims: SE, SEL, and Limited. The base trim has a less powerful motor (136 horsepower) and less overall range of 200 miles. The top two trims are equal to those in Canada, where they’re called Preferred, priced from $36,675 USD/ $49,052 CAD and Ultimate $41,045 USD/$53,852 CAD, both of which have more power, 200 horsepower, and 188 lb-ft of torque. They also have more range, 420 km or 260 miles, than the base model. All trims in both Canada and the US are front-wheel drive; there is not an all wheel drive option.

What’s notable about the Kona, and a significant way it differs from the Ioniq 5, is that it’s built on Hyundai’s less powerful charging platform; Preferred and Ultimate models can fully charge in about 6 hours at a level 2 charger and to 80% in about 43 minutes at a level 3 DC fast charger. Compare this to the higher voltage system in the Ioniq 5, which is also available in a dual motor with all wheel drive; it can charge to 80% in 18 minutes at a DC fast charger.

Both do, however, offer Hyundai’s iPedal regenerative braking one-pedal driving system. This allows the driver to mostly use the accelerator to control speed, and to recoup unused energy, which is sent back to the battery for use when it’s needed.

For drivers who will mostly charge overnight or can use a level 2 for several hours during the day, the difference is minimal. But for those who road trip and need fast charging without the wait, the Ioniq 5 or the Kona gas-powered model may be a better option.

Related: 2024 Hyundai Kona: A Future-Forward Design, Gas or Electric

You Can Fit A Good Amount Of Things Int He Trunk Of The Hyundai Kona Ev.

You can fit a good amount of things in the trunk of the Hyundai Kona Electric. Photo: Connie Peters

Gas Or Electric, 2024 Offers Lots and Lots of Upgrades 

The new design of the 2024 model was built around the Kona Electric: Both the gas-powered and the electric Kona are wider, longer, and bigger in this second generation. And thanks in part to slimmer driver and passenger seats, there is more rear legroom, too. The flat floor in the rear also helps your third rear passenger feel comfortable, well, more comfortable than in the gas Kona, which still has a center hump on the rear floor.

For all models the cargo area behind the seats is now 33% bigger, with 25.5 cubic feet of space for all your cargo needs. The included privacy shade also cleverly slides into holders just behind the rear seats so it can be tucked away and not lost 

Dual 12.3-inch screens, which are standard, make up the entirely digital driver display and multimedia touchscreen with one big glass panel curved in a driver-focused form. The system is new for 2024, and I found the navigation and touchscreen to be very easy to use and intuitive. I was very impressed that the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are wirelessly connected as standard, and there is a wireless charging pad. This is something the gas-powered models don’t have yet, but they will be added as an over-the-air update soon.

The Kona Electric has a digital head-up display projected on the front windshield, unlike the old plastic panel of the previous generation. The gas-powered Kona does not offer head-up display.

Related: The 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N: Irresistible Fun in a “Manual” Electric Car 

The Drivers Display In The Hyundai Kona Ev Is All Digital.

The driver’s display in the Hyundai Kona Electric is all digital. Photo: Connie Peters

More Modern Design than Ever 

Though the 2024 Kona has an overall more modern design, the Kona Electric takes it a step further than the gas-powered model in several ways.

First, that cladding. The gas-powered model features side cladding on the lower side panels and wheel wells. It looks cool, almost rugged, but the lack of cladding and the addition of the “Black Embracing Line” – a black frame all around the lower exterior of the new Kona Electric – add a sleeker, more elegant look.

The ‘greenhouse’ or the portion of the car mostly defined by windows, is framed in chrome that runs between the window and door panels and around the spolier on the lift gate; this also adds a beautiful touch. 

All those pixels! The pixel design was carried over from the Ioniq 5 and 6, using small squares to define a space or to add depth and texture to a feature such as the light bar on the lift gate and front end. This unique modern detail adds an ‘electrified’ touch to the Kona Electric.

The Rear View Of The Hyundai Kona Ev.

The rear view of the Hyundai Kona EV. Photo: Connie Peters

Use Your Smartphone as Your Car Key

Hyundai has been an early adapter of this technology, offering it in many of its cars. But the Kona Electric features newest version with an improved smartphone app. It is more intuitive, has more features and can even be used as your car key fob. YES, leave the fob at home; use your phone to unlock, drive and lock your car.

You can even add another driver to your “digital key” so they can drive the car, and you can also take it away when you want to.

Hyundai BlueLink can also initiate start & stop, climate, lock and unlock, locate the car for you, and give you lots of updates like EV trip details, health reports, battery range details, and even locate nearby charging stations for you. THIS is the tech I want in my electric car.

The Charge Port In Action In The Hyundai Kona Electric.

The charge port is in action in the Hyundai Kona Electric. Photo: Connie Peters

Charging Ahead with the Hyundai Kona Electric

In Canadian versions, the charge port door heater comes on when the rear defrost is turned on. I think this is a thoughtful feature considering the placement of the charging port door, which is facing all the elements by being on the front of the car. Simply turn on your rear defrost to turn on the heat, and any frozen elements will all be melted and ready for you to open when you reach your destination to charge your Kona Electric.

The 2024 Kona Electric comes with advanced technology in battery conditioning and optimizes the battery temperature in both hot and colder weather. This tech includes:

  • Battery cooling and heating capabilities
  • Improved usability by providing a manual operation switch
  • Provide battery temperature status information (High/Suitable/Low)
  • Increased remote operation time during parking (15 min 30 min)

Safety Comes Standard, of Course

All Kona Electric cars come standard with Hyundai Safety Sense, which includes:

  • Lane Keeping
  • Driver Attention Warning
  • Parking distance alert
  • Remote Smart Park Assist
  • 360 backup camera and side view cameras
  • Highway driving assist (adaptive cruise control)
Side View Of The Hyundai Kona Ev.

Side view of the Hyundai Kona EV. Photo: Connie Peters

Which One Would You Choose: Gas or Electric?

If you’re thinking of you going electric, there are so many great things about this little SUV that could convince you. Personally, I love EVs for the fun drive experience, the future-forward features and the ease of charging at home rather than going to the gas station. The Kona Electric is no exception; the design touches are slightly more modern, the feature selections are more premium and the added space is a luxury.

After test driving the Kona Electric, would I still answer that question from social media the same way? For me, yes; the Kona’s aesthetics and technology make that an easy choice. 

Disclosure: I was a guest of Hyundai for this test drive. Travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own. Additionally, A Girls Guide to Cars may earn a commission from affiliate links in this story.

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Connie Peters is a mother of 3 girls in suburban Vancouver, Canada and has been an online entrepreneur since... More about Connie Peters

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