Behind the Wheel

2020 Hyundai Kona Electric Review: It doesn't try too hard and exceeds expectations

The Hyundai Kona Electric is a proper EV that doesn't try too hard.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

When you ask most "regular" people about electric cars, they'll inevitably mention Tesla. And with good reason; Elon Musk (currently the world's wealthiest person) has done more for the electric vehicle (EV) movement than anyone and Tesla cars are what comes to mind for just about everyone when the topic of EVs comes up.

Of course, electric cars still make up just a fraction of total sales even if Tesla produced a half-million cars worldwide in 2020. But most carmakers are making battery electric vehicles (BEVs) that don't take any traditional fuel at all these days, including my review car this week: the Hyundai Kona Electric.

Hyundai is absolutely killing it these days, making well-built cars that are handsome inside and out and with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty on all their vehicles — on top of a 5-year/60,000 bumper-to-bumper warranty. That's way more than you get from Honda or Toyota, which is a big deal for a budget-conscious buyer.

2020 Hyundai Kona Electric The Kona Electric can charge on-the-go, or via a home outlet.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

I reviewed the regular Hyundai Kona last year and loved it — it's the Korean carmaker's remarkably well-equipped subcompact crossover and it also comes in an electric version which is totally different in powertrain and yet the basically the same everywhere else.

The Kona Electric swaps the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for a 201-horsepower all-electric powertrain with a 64-kilowatt hour battery pack that's good for an EPA-estimated range of 258 miles. The EPA-range on EVs tends to be a pretty fair guess in my experience, and it was with the Kona, too.

If you get one (as with any electric car), you'll want to get what's called a Level 2 charging station in your garage from a company like ChargePoint or Clipper Creek. It takes way too long to charge off a regular 110-volt home power outlet and it's not good for safety to do that DIY either, so call your electrician. You should be able to get one installed for under $1,000 depending on local permitting requirements and your home.

The Kona Electric's plug is in the front of the SUV.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

But once you do, that Level 2 home charger should be able to fill the Kona Electric up from empty in about nine hours — in other words, charge it at night and you'll always be ready to go.

It also has a high-speed DC Fast Charging system on board with an SAE Combo port that would let you charge up really quickly if you're on a road trip. Like everything, there are some format wars in electric vehicles too and if you buy one, you'll start to become familiar with them. Still, there are plentiful apps to help you locate chargers and a properly equipped DC fast charger should fill the battery up to 80 percent in 30 minutes or so.

Even better, the fast charging networks are growing incredibly rapidly and it's not nearly as difficult to charge on the go as it used to be. Many are located on major interstate routes, including all over North Carolina.

EV tech aside, the Kona is remarkably like a regular vehicle. It doesn't look weird (aside from the solid front end because of the lack of a radiator - that's where the charging port is), and it's just like a normal car on the inside. It's literally the regular gas-powered Kona, but with an electric motor swapped in.

This is a nice thing, actually. Many EVs look weird or operate weirdly or don't have an on/off switch or because they want to showcase how futuristic they are. That's all well and good, but many people just want a car where they can get in, start, and drive without having to think too much about it.

The Kona Electric is nearly the exact same inside as its gasoline-powered counterpart.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The biggest thing you need to know about the Kona Electric to drive it is that there's a paddle on the left side of the steering wheel to adjust the regenerative brake level. Electric cars can recharge the battery under braking (it's why they're so efficient), and you can use that paddle on the wheel to change how much the car slows itself down when you let off the accelerator. If you put it on its most intense level, you can effectively drive with one foot — getting on the accelerator to go or taking your foot off of it to slow down to a stop.

It becomes second nature pretty quickly, but if you want it to act like a more "traditional" car, it'll do that too — which is particularly nice if you're loaning the car to someone not so familiar with EVs.

As a day-to-day car, the Kona Electric is near-perfect, aside from the as-tested price of $46,430. It is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax incentive and it can use many states' HOV lanes regardless of the number of occupants. A similarly equipped gas-powered version can be had for less than $30,000.

But if you want a car that's billed as better for the environment, or just want to impress your friends with something they probably haven't seen before, the Hyundai Kona Electric is well worth a look.

Trending News

 
 

Chevy recently dropped a load of specs and opened orders for the new Silverado EV.

Chevrolet

After months of teases and speculation, Chevrolet took the wraps off its 2024 Silverado EV pickup truck. The long-awaited electric truck lands with impressive range of up to 400 miles, plenty of power, and neat features that improve its ability to do "truck stuff." The $105,000 RST First Edition model sold out in 12 minutes, so we're here to ask the question: Would you line up to buy one?

2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV It's all about the screens in the RST First Edition model. Chevrolet

Chevrolet will offer the truck in two trims at launch: A fleet-oriented WT (work truck) model and a consumer-friendly RST First Edition model. Chevy says it will eventually offer a fleet model with 20,000 pounds of max towing capacity. The WT model will launch first with 510 horsepower and 615 pound-feet of torque, which adds up to a towing capacity of 8,000 pounds and 1,200 pounds of payload. The RST trim offers a Wide Open Watts (WOW) Mode that bumps power to 664 ponies and 780 pound-feet of torque, which is good for a 0-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds.

The RST model offers advanced features to make daily driving easier for the everyday buyer, including four-wheel steering, automatic adaptive air suspension, a 17-inch touchscreen and 11-inch gauge cluster, a 14-inch head-up display, and Super Cruise with trailering capability. An available onboard generator system can produce up to 10.2kW of power for equipment such as worksite power tools or campsite gear.

2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV Preorders for the $105,000 RST First Edition sold out in just 12 minutes.Chevrolet

Both trucks come exclusively in crew cab format, and will offer an "eTrunk" where the engine bay would be in a traditional truck. The lockable, weatherproof compartment can carry a large suitcase, and adds to the Silverado EV's already impressive interior storage. The RST's center console can swallow more than seven gallons of gear, which is large enough to hold a small lunch cooler, according to Chevy. RST models are also available with GM's excellent Multi-Flex tailgate, but there's a new feature for the electric truck that its gas-powered counterparts don't get: A Multi-Flex Midgate that opens the space between the cab and bed for carrying longer cargo. Using the function won't interfere with use of the back seat, either, so the truck will still carry at least four people.

Trending News

 
 

The iX M60 will hit dealers' lots in June 2022.

BMW

BMW's electric vehicle catalog is growing rapidly as the automaker rolls out new electrified cars and SUVs. The latest is the iX M60, a red-hot five-seat SUV with sleek styling and a spectacular list of standard features. BMW announced the new SUV this week, along with pricing and release date details.

The iX M60 is BMW's first performance-oriented electric SUV, though BMW calls it a sports activity vehicle, or SAV. Its powertrain has been massaged to produce up to 610 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque. Maximum power delivery is limited to times when the vehicle's launch control is activated, but even the "normal" numbers are impressive: In regular driving situations, the iX puts down 532 horsepower and 749 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 3.6 seconds and the iX M60 can go on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph.

2023 BMW iX M60 Though extremely sporty, BMW doesn't shy away from using loads of luxurious finishes and materials. BMW

The iX brings more than performance, as its charging capabilities are quite strong. Using AC power, the vehicle can charge from 0-100 percent in 10.25 hours on its fastest setting. Using its fastest DC power setting, the iX can charge from 10 to 80% in just 35 minutes.

Two electric motors power the SUV, which provide standard all-wheel drive. Dual-axle air suspension is standard, along with electronically-controlled shock absorbers. BMW says that the air suspension is controlled individually at each wheel, so the vehicle can adjust ride height in several ways to maintain stability and remain level in corners.

2023 BMW iX M60 The vehicle can run from 0-60 mph in under four seconds and features standard AWD.BMW

When it goes on sale in June, 2022, the 2023 BMW iX M60 will have a starting price of $106,095, which includes a $995 destination charge. That's a flagship price tag, but the SUV's got the performance and a flagship-level list of standard features. That six-figure dollar amount buys 21-inch wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless phone charging, AC fast charging, a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System, four-zone automatic climate controls, and more.

Trending News