The EV market is so hot right now, with most major automakers finally getting into the game. Hyundai is no different, they make the new Ioniq 5 and also a fully electric version of the the subcompact crossover SUV (B-segment) Hyundai Kona. It’s one of the cheaper EVs on the market, and since it’s based on a regular Hyundai, it just looks like, well a small crossover. Hyundai threw me the keys to a top spec Kona EV Limited for a week and I wrote things about it. They are below.
2022 Kona EV Overview
The Kona EV lineup is pretty simple, you can choose from the base SEL or the Limited. As you can see, the MSRPs range from $34,000 – $42,500 before incentives. If you look closely, you’ll see that the Kona EV is only available in select states. Residents, or neighbors of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont can purchase a Kona EV at their dealerships.
Tick the box for the Limited trim and you’ll get upgrades like a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen navigation (vs. eight-inches on the SEL), leather trimmed seats, a heated steering wheel, and more. Both trim levels are powered by a 150-kW electric motor with 201 horsepower and an EPA-estimated 258 mile range.
Like most top trim Hyundai’s, the Limited doesn’t really need to have much added. You literally choose a color and are greeted with “Finish Your Build” on the Hyundai website. You can read through the window sticker below, you’re out the door at just under $44,000 for this Galactic Gray Kona EV.
Let’s dig a little deeper and find out if it’s worth the…actually that’s really cheap for an EV, let’s just go with “it’s worth it”. Especially when gas prices are nuts. Still, I’ll try and add some context and flavor to see if you think this little EV could be your next daily.
2022 Kona EV Limited Inside & Out
I’ll run you through some quick exterior and interior thoughts, but most of my notes are going to cover the driving experience below. My favorite part about the Kona EV is that it just looks like “an car”. Aside from the existence of a charging flap, and lack of a grille up front, it looks like a regular Hyundai Kona. So, for those who would like the practicality of an EV, without shouting it from the rooftops, the Kona’s exterior design is spot on. I have to imagine that sharing more components with the petrol version must keep costs down a bit too.
On the inside, it feels like a Hyundai Kona. Again, aside from a couple of areas it’s a typical Hyundai interior experience. The push button selectors for the one-speed direct drive transmission replace the traditional shift level, but other than that, it’s still “an car”.
It’s all well laid out and easy to use, thankfully Hyundai built in plenty of small storage areas across the center stack to stow your stuff on the road.
Legroom in the back (33.4 inches) isn’t amazing, and does fall short of the Chevrolet Bolt. However, there is an impressive 19.2 cu. ft. of space under the rear hatch. That bests the Bolt by a handful of cubes and should handle most daily driving situations. The Kona EV would also make a good road trip vehicle, depending on charging infrastructure along the way.
2022 Kona EV On The Road
Like I mentioned above, I spent most of my time considering how well the Kona EV would be as a no-kidding daily driver. So, I set about doing just that with a mix of city and highway driving during my week-long loan.
Daily charging was done at the 110v outlet in my garage, the same place I routinely charge my 2021 Mach-E. The charging flap is locked by default, and opening the drivers door did not unlock it. You could unlock it via the key fob by unlocking the vehicle itself. There may be a setting down in the menu somewhere to change that, but it felt like one more thing to do when heading in after a drive.
Out on the road, I loved that each drive mode gives you a separate estimated range. So, for example at one point I had it in Eco and was at a 246 estimated mile range, Normal was 243, while sport dropped it down to 239 miles. It’s almost like driving a petrol car in a sporty mode, you always knew it was using more gas. In this case, it keeps you very aware, and you can decide if burning through that extra electricity is worth it.
The driving modes work well, and seem to actually change the dynamics of the Kona. It’s cool when you change to Sport mode, even the speedometer turns to italics. In wet weather, it will easily spin the tires at speeds you don’t really expect. Meanwhile, you can get to Eco Plus with an extra click or two. It didn’t dramatically change the estimated range, but it definitely turns off the HVAC functions. So, since it’s been a hot summer, I skipped that bit. The paddles adjust how much regenerative braking you can use, although I’m not sure why you would want less regen?
The Kona EV uses Hyundai’s typical suite of safety aids. I did unintentionally use the sensors in the car to let me know that I should watch out for traffic getting out of the car alongside a busy street. I’ve seen that in the commercial, but I can see how it might save your ass. It really does drive like a normal hatchback, oh, and it’s got a cute little horn *meep meep*!
The Hyundai Kona (it was really hard not to type “Kia Kona” this whole time, because alliteration) is a car first, and an EV second. Still, it’s got a robust range (not just for the price, like in general) and has zippy acceleration, plus a practical hatchback shape and plenty of standard features. There just aren’t many “cheap” EVs out there just yet, but this is one of them. It’s still a bit more expensive than the Chevy Bolt, but not by that much. Plus GM has exhausted it’s tax credit, while the Kona EV (along with the Ioniq 5) is still eligible for fully $7,500. So, if you want an inexpensive EV, the Kona should definitely make your list!