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Video: 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric: Review

05:49 min
By Editors
March 21, 2022

About the video

When the Kona Electric launched a few years ago, it was Hyundai’s first all-electric SUV. For 2022, it has a lightly freshened face, a larger standard touchscreen and much more.


(light upbeat music) When Hyundai first launched the Kona EV, it was the automaker's first all-electric SUV.
And like the gas-powered Kona, there was a lot to like about the electric version of this plucky subcompact SUV, from its zippy road manners and no-nonsense multimedia system to its ample safety standards and focus on value. The Kona EV shares a lot with the regular model, which is part of the reason why it works so well, including similar cargo room and passenger space. But there are some obvious differences between the models. Here are three big ones. First, the biggest difference is under the hood, and we get our first hint of that by looking at the grill, which wears a smoother, more streamlined design, and it also has the charge panel kinda offset oddly above the grill. The Kona EV gets power from the 64-kilowatt hour battery pack and single electric motor, making 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. It only comes in front-wheel drive. Power comes on fast and smooth. Near-instant torque makes for great pop off the line and gives the Kona some zip around town. It feels much quicker than the regular Kona, which already was decently peppy. For more pep, pop it into Sport mode. It increases responsiveness for more of an aggressive feel. Eco plays it very safe and does the opposite by dulling responsiveness. Normal mode splits the difference. All three of these modes have a big impact on how much energy the car uses, which impacts range. More on that later. Hyundai estimates the Kona EV is good for 258 miles of range, which is competitive against other small EVs, such as the Chevrolet Bolt EUV and its 247 miles of range, and the Volkswagen ID.4, with its 280 miles of range in the base trim. The Kona Electric has a 7.2 kilowatt onboard charger, and it'll charge to a full battery from 10% in about nine hours on a Level 2 charger, which I have. Hyundai says it can also be charged to 80% from 10% in approximately 47 minutes using a DC charger. And app is available to help manage charging and control selected vehicle systems remotely. In these super cold temps, I found that range is limited, however, due in large part to the extra energy demands from things like heat and goodies like the heated steering wheel and the heated seats. Setting the temperature lower will help sustain your range, but that doesn't sound fun. In the Sport, Normal, and Eco mode settings, you can customize climate control usage in each mode to balance your needs with the car's range. Also, the cold weather limits how much energy is recaptured through the car's regenerative breaking system. It also takes longer to bring the vehicle's battery up to a full charge, so plan accordingly. The good news is that the car's range gauge seemed pretty accurate during my trips. Also, the Kona has an available battery warmer system to help prevent excessively long battery charging intervals in cold temperatures. In addition, in Winter mode, the battery warmer can minimize the battery power losses due to low winter temperatures. Second, it delivers a pretty different driving experience than the gas-powered model. Where the gas-powered model sounds kind of loud and is a little bit gruff, the EV is quiet and makes kind of a mechanical whirring noise, as typical of other EVs. It also has a very different brake feel, typical of other hybrids and electric vehicles. The regenerative braking system works to capture lost braking energy and sends it to the battery to boost efficiency. In the Kona, it took me a while to get comfortable with the system, largely because it is so customizable. In each of the Sport, Eco, and Normal modes, you can dial up the strength of the regen system. For example, in Sport mode, I set it to a level 1, so they felt like relatively normal brakes with a firm, responsive pedal. In Eco mode, I set it to level 3, which is the strongest setting and feels the most unnatural, but saves the most energy. When this process kicks in, you can feel the car start to slow down dramatically when you remove your foot from the gas pedal, which meant a lot of lurching until I got the hang of it. It doesn't quite slow down to a stop, however, as with other EVs' one-pedal regen systems. If you want it to brake all the way to a stop, you need to use the paddle shifter, which felt like a strange way to stop. I ended up splitting the difference and got comfortable in level 2, which still saves braking energy, but doesn't feel as unnatural as level 3. The last biggest difference is in cost and availability. The 2022 Hyundai Kona EV is only available in SEL and Limited trims, and starts at around $35,000. That's including destination. That's also a whopping $10,000 more than a gas-powered Kona SEL. However, the Kona EV is still eligible for the full $7,500 federal tax credit, so that makes the price more manageable. Its price is actually pretty competitive. It's around the same price as the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, which is no longer eligible for the federal tax credit. It's also cheaper than the Volkswagen ID.4, which is a little bit bigger and is eligible for the federal tax credit. The Kona EV is on sale now, depending on where you live. It's currently only available in states that require increasing sales of zero-emissions vehicles. With decent range, peppy road manners, and a competitive price, the Kona EV is a compelling option, if you can find one.

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