Clearly, the automotive industry is shifting toward electric vehicles, that much is clear from the increased number of all-electric offerings on sale. At the same time as the electric shift, automakers have taken it upon themselves to reinvent the wheel. Funky designs, enough computing power to get to the moon, and futuristic powertrains with earth-shattering figures are part of the way cars morphed into rolling tech suits during the electric revolution. What ever happened to cars being cars?
Driving a modern car can be overwhelming – an electric car can be even more frustrating. With different controls, an immense amount of digital real estate, and a dizzying level of technology, one can’t help but wonder why cars became so complicated. For people that want a normal electric SUV that doesn’t require a PhD to drive, the Hyundai Kona Electric is an excellent option. It may not have the outlandish styling, eye-bending performance, or Tik-Tok worthy technology, but that’s exactly why it’s such a great choice.
Funky, Not Ludicrous
The Kona Electric shares the same familial lines as the gas-powered Kona, which isn’t a bad thing in our eyes. Of course, the electric version has a few unique touches that include a grille-less front end, an offset charging port, and an exhaust-less rear bumper. The regular Kona’s futuristic look works in this application. It’s just different enough to the Kona where it makes itself known, but not too out there where your eyes recoil in shock over what it’s just seen.
While the Kona received a hefty update for the 2022 model year, the Kona Electric’s updates were far less extensive. The electric SUV gains slimmer LED headlights, elongated taillights, and a smoother nose. These may be small changes, but they add up to a nicer overall look.
Refreshingly Recognizable Interior
Just like the exterior, the Kona Electric has a nearly identical interior design, layout, and footprint to the regular Kona. The main difference between the two vehicles is that the electric version comes with push-button controls for the transmission and the gas-fed variant has a more traditional gear shifter. Beyond that, and some minor reshuffling of controls and extra storage space underneath the transmission tunnel, things are mostly the same. For shoppers that hate change or people that can’t stand the fact that some modern EVs are now equipped with screens that are larger than TVs, seeing an electric car with a mainstream look is comforting.
Some may consider it as being boring, but the simplicity of the controls and how easy everything is to use can’t be overlooked. If there is a downside to the interior, it’s that the Kona Electric offers the same amount of interior space as the Kona. So, while the front seats are roomy and comfortable, the rear seats aren’t roomy enough for adults. The cabin, despite the quiet electric powertrain, can get loud on the highway, which is a similar issue with the Kona.
Since Hyundai’s designers envisioned the Kona as an electric vehicle from the onset, the electric version of the subcompact SUV offers just as much cargo space as the gas-powered model. That’s a good thing, because cutting cargo capacity out of the Kona would’ve resulted in a barely usable SUV. With 19.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, the Kona isn’t exactly a primary choice for a lumber run to Home Depot.
Decent Pep and Range
As a realistic electric SUV that people can actually afford and be used to replace a gas car, the Kona Electric offers just enough and nothing more on the performance front. The FWD-only model has a single electric motor on the front wheels that produces 201 horsepower. It’s paired with a 64-kWh battery pack. It may be a modest horsepower figure, but the Kona Electric manages to feel peppier than the base Kona off the line. With 258 miles of range, the Kona Electric falls short of the magical 300-mile mark, but still offers plenty of mileage for daily use and commuters.
With the Kona Electric sharing the same platform as the Kona and having all of the large components being mounted low inside the body, the electric SUV retains the same fun-loving character as the gas model. You’ll still want to spring for the high-performance Kona N if you want sports car handling, but for an electric subcompact SUV that’s primarily aimed at drivers looking to make the switch to an EV for regular use.
Thanks to paddles behind the steering wheel, drivers can pick between three selectable regenerative braking modes. You can pick the level of regen based on your preferences, while pulling and holding the paddle on the left brings even stronger regen that can bring the car to a complete stop for one-pedal driving. It’s nice to be able to adjust the settings on the fly.
The Kona Electric is basically an all-electric version of the Kona, but that’s what makes it great and not so great. The electric version has the same enjoyable handling, distinctive styling, and straightforward interior design that we like about the regular Kona, but in an electric package with 258 miles of range, a peppy electric motor, and a charging port instead of a gas cap.
Have trouble between learning the intricacies of Android and Apple? Don’t understand how Apple Maps and Google Maps are different? Do large touchscreens that span the entire width of the car dashboard give you nightmares? Ear mark the 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric as an EV to explore.